There’s good (left) and bad (right) peplum.
My fellow women with wide, child-bearing hips: beware. A trend that is growing in strength will appear in stores this fall to tempt us into making ourselves look bulky and even wider. That trend is the peplum.
What is a peplum, you say? Well, it’s a short overskirt attached to a skirt, jacket, or dress, and it’s reared it’s head many a time in fashion, beginning in the 1800s and appearing most recently in the 1980s. You remember those Brat Pack era purple party dresses with a long tier of fabric falling from the waist? Well, they’re back, and with their flouncy, feminine feel, they may be hard to resist. But this trend isn’t for everyone. For those us that are wider around the waist, the trick is to look for pieces that reinvent the peplum in a shorter, tailored way, or use color blocking to balance out the extra volume the peplum will place around your hips. I’ve highlighted a few items below. Good luck, my friends!
I see this peplum dress around so much that I’ve started to wonder if it’s stalking me. Luckily it’s sequin bodice draws the eye up, which is more flattering for us hippier girls. You can get this Alice + Olivia “Bethany” sequined bustier peplum dress for $495 at lots of stores–Neiman Marcus, Net-a-Porter, Saks. But, you can get it on sale for $346.50 at Chickdowntown.com:
The boning at the sides of the dress are another great detail as it will help provide a flattering, supportive fit to the strapless bodice.
If you want to go all out on the peplum trend, this Jason Wu dress is “major” as Rachel Zoe would say. Originally $2510 it’s on sale now for $1004 on Netaporter.com:
The genius of this dress is the color blocking effect that Wu achieves through varying the density of the tiny black bow embellishments on the dress. Here’s a close up of the silk-faille bow detailing:
By making the densest and most visually interesting part of the dress right at the boat neckline, Wu draws our eyes up to this blackest part, creating balance to the volume of the peplum flounce and the bright color of the yellow skirt. Essentially, rather than allowing the eye to focus on the volume of the peplum skirt, he keeps the eye moving around–a very good thing for girls with wider hips who want to wear this trend.
For a more affordable version of this trend, check out Forever 21’s offerings. In this lady-like dress Forever 21 achieves the same color blocking effect going on in Jason Wu’s piece through a camel colored skirt, solid black pleated chiffon peplum, and see-through black knit lace over the camel top. The black ribbon is also a nice touch–instead of drawing the eye up, as Jason Wu does, this black ribbon draws the eyes down, and in the same way, balances out the volume the peplum creates. Best of all, this dress will only set you back $32.
If you want to wear this trend to the office, look for a longer skirt, a shorter and more tailored or pleated peplum at the waist, and perhaps a more subdued color. This Kay Unger dress, $330 at Neiman Marcus, fits the bill:
You can see that compared to other dresses, this peplum is much more subdued. The pleated bust gives the dress a very sharp, tailored look, while the belt adds polishes while contouring your waist. Finally, the cut-in shoulders and small slit neck is interesting, while still being tasteful. All you need is a blazer or cardigan to take this dress from daytime at the office to a summer evening out.
Another way to wear the peplum trend at the office is with a jacket, like this velvet peplum jacket by Winter Kate, $295 at Neiman Marcus:
The cut of this jacket is very flattering, especially the cinch at the waist that falls into a gently ruffled peplum. The velvet adds great texture to any office outfit and will carry this jacket through fall and winter. I love the sleeve length–it gives the jacket a great vintage feel.
Speaking of vintage, if you want to invest in a vintage piece that executes this trend, here’s the real deal–a blue silk velvet jacket from the 1930s, available for $189 from one of my favorite vintage sites, Poshgirlvintage.com:
I love the ruched collar that resolves into the flouncy peplum and the color is spectacular. Again, the cinched waist here is very flattering, and gives this jacket versatility–it can finish off the look of a dress, or plain old jeans. The style gurus at Poshgirlvintage added this belt for inspiration and I think it’s a great idea. You can dress it up even more with a skinny metalic melt, or go more casual with a chunky studded belt.
Skirts are another way to add some peplum into you work wear. I like this skirt from French Connection the best for the office because of it’s smart tailoring and side-pleated peplums:
The office-appropriate length and color make it a more verstaile skirt that you can mix and match tops with. Although, because of the detailing going on in the skirt, you might want to stick with a more straightforward blouse. For $148 it’s not quite a bargain, but it might be a good choice if you want to invest some money in the trend, since you’ll get more wear out of this skirt than a “louder” peplum piece.
The most important thing to keep in mind, if you want to wear this trend is to avoid the extreme ’80s peplum flare like the plague. Instead, favor a more demure flounce that calls to mind a 1930s or 1940s peplum suit.
This is because the fitted peplum is actually more figure flattering than the flared peplum, since it tends to de-emphasize the hips. The flared peplum will make just about anyone look bulkier.