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Peplums: yay or nay?

Categories: basics


Last weekend, a curvy friend asked how I felt about peplums. My answer: Meh.

I am not entirely opposed to a peplum; properly deployed, that little overskirt can be kind of fun. For example, I’m loving this Alice + Olivia dress with the lace overlay. It’s simple and sleek and has a clean, minimalist line. Lovely.

Alice + Olivia, $440

But that’s not really what we’re talking about when we talk about peplums, is it? Typically, a peplum is a little less minimalist and a little more … hippy.

Topshop, $96

I don’t love this look; it’s hard to wear if you have any sort of curves at all. It is also painfully reminiscent of the 1980s, and I don’t know about you but I have no desire to relive those years. At all.

Of course, peplum dresses have come a long way since the 80s. They’re much cooler now, in lots of ways. This Cynthia Steffe mixed media dress is made for a grown woman, not a high school girl. And yet, it’s still not really working for me — the asymmetrical peplum makes the model look pregnant. Or bloated. Or slouchy. Either way, not good.

Cynthia Steffe, $248

What if you’re curvy, like my friend? Steer clear of the peplum, dear. Why buy a dress with built in hips if you already have a set of your own?

Tadashi Shoji (currently unavailable)

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having hips — au contraire! What I’m saying is that there are better ways to work your curves. I promise.

Tadashi Shoji, $428

This dress is fabulous, and it does exactly what all those peplums are trying to do — calls attention to a tiny waist and some bangin’ curves — without adding bulk or making it look like the model’s butt is wearing a cape. The difference between these two Tadashi Shoji dresses is, in my mind, amazing — same designer, same model, completely different silhouette.

How do you feel about the peplum? Is it a yay or a nay?

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11 comments so far...

  • I think it depends on two things: 1) Wear the peplum starts on the torso and 2) The material and how much it flairs. A peplum can actually be very slimming if it hits at your narrowest point and just glides over your hips. It can emphasize an hour-glass shape and hide bumps at the same time. However, a lot of current peplum fall lower on the torso and flair like a tutu, which doesn’t do anyone any favors.

    Carolyn  |  October 17th, 2012 at 8:23 am

  • My wedding dress had a peplum. However, it was subtle, close to the body, and more of a design addition than that whole Victorian collar moved south look.

    So, when are you going to do a series on dressing for plus sizes but still being trendy/not trampy, but on a budget. See, I have this friend, who needs… oh who am I kidding, I need help.

    Ameliasprout  |  October 17th, 2012 at 9:12 am

  • I fall firmly on the “nay” side of the peplum debate. I loathe them. I don’t think they are flattering on any body type. Whenever I see one, I immediately think of someone wearing a bright peach-colored shiny taffeta bridesmaid dress. *shudder*

    T.  |  October 17th, 2012 at 10:37 am

  • You girls are both exactly right: A well-designed, well-deployed peplum can do wonders for a curvy figure (and can help create curves on a straighter frame). That last dress, above, has the kind of peplum that Carolyn is describing, and it looks fab on the model.

    Sadly, there are a lot of tutu-esque peplums out there. Steer clear!

    And I am ALL OVER the idea of a How to Dress Your Hott Plus Size Self series. Coming soon, I promise.

    Susan  |  October 17th, 2012 at 10:37 am

  • I’m a yay. I have a fantastic peplum top with capped sleeves which hugs my waist and flares from their. My problem area is my thighs and this top (paired with a slim line pants and skirt) is extremely flattering.

    Here’s a pic of it…

    I agree - be careful about length, suitable shape and volume. I also hate the topshop example above and wouldn’t be seen dead in something like that!

    Kelly @ kiwi womens style  |  October 17th, 2012 at 1:01 pm

  • I think it depends on the dress and the wearer. I just saw a picture of Octavia Spencer in that exact Tadashi dress with peplum and she looked FANTASTIC. She pulls off so many great looks, that woman is fierce.

    elz  |  October 17th, 2012 at 1:04 pm

  • I found the Octavia picture. Holy crap she makes that look good.

    Ameliasprout  |  October 17th, 2012 at 1:34 pm

  • WHOA Olivia Spencer looks ah-MAZE-ing in that dress. Holla.

    Susan  |  October 18th, 2012 at 10:48 am

  • Look at Octavia–the bottom of the peplum is hitting her in the exact right place, after the widest part of her hips.

    I can’t get behind a peplum, though, for myself. Not a good look personally. I wore one in the 80’s–that was enough.

    StacyfrPgh  |  October 22nd, 2012 at 1:02 pm

  • Wow, that last dress is calling my name. Gorgeousness.

    rb  |  October 23rd, 2012 at 9:59 am

  • I personally like the peplum style; but as with everything else, the look is not for everyone and it also has to be the right length. Too long and it looks frumpy, too short and it looks awful. I can’t wear wide belts because I am too short waisted, so I avoid that look… Like any fashion trend, you have to wear what flatters your body style.

    Rebecca Freeman  |  October 28th, 2012 at 9:07 am