Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Styling tips for peplums: DOs and DONT's

A peplum world
Peplums on tops, dresses or jackets create a silhouette reminiscent of the 1940s -Dior comes to mind-, and the 1980s.

That said, peplums are not easy to wear. Apart from the dated factor (I don's see many people wearing peplum skirts or dresses in the future), very many things can go wrong with a peplum, so always check the length, shape, and bulk of the peplum on yourself and in relation to the other pieces you are wearing and keep your objective in mind (create a waist, accentuate one, or minimize hips).
The idea behind peplums is to create a waist that is not there (Body type C) or accentuate one that is (Body type B), and minimize hips (Body type A), by drawing the eye to the peplum. In that sense, it may be a good idea to take advantage of the trend by investing in a piece that really flatters your Body type and that will not look dated in a couple of years.
My advice
First, and for all Body types:

  Pay attention to Silhouette, Fit and Proportion.

Second, either invest in a peplum jacket if you are a Body type C, or add and inexpensive top to your wardrobe if your belong to the other two types.

Finally, altogether ignore this trend or fake it. How? You can create the illusion of a peplum by using a belt over a blouse or a jacket  or even buy a belt that resembles a peplum (there are some offers out there in supple leathers).

Below I have compiled a list of DOs and DONTs in case you decide to go with this trend.

  • Do let your peplum hit you at high hip. A peplum hitting at low hip can be elegant (very Dior-esque), but tricky for all but the slimmest.
  • Do check the bulk of the peplum: pleats in a light weight material, or cut on the bias so they adapt to the body, or a trapeze piece that lies flat against the body. A couple of pieces that suggest a peplum are also a great option.
  • Do pair your peplum with something fitted through waist and hips, like a pencil skirt or menswear trousers (straight leg, flat front, no pockets, and an invisible zipper, ideally on the side or back).
  • Do choose a dress with minimal detailing for a current silhouette.
  • Do hem skirts at the knee, or a bit below, where your leg shape narrows, which is the most flattering hemline for all Body types.
  • Do pair what you are wearing with high-heeled court shoes or open sandals.


  • Don't choose a dress with flounces (more or less gathered) and anything that could be mistaken for curtain hangings. If the peplum is too large or voluminous, you are in costume territory.
  • Don't do flounces also above the waist: it's too busy and hides what you were supposed to be highlighting.
  • Don't hem your skirt above the knee or shorter, you will shorten your silhouette. The peplum creates an horizontal line that can be used to advantage, but not if you cut the length of the skirt. For the same reason, don't hem your pencil skirt above your ankles, you will looked swamped by all the material.
  • Don't do colour blocking: either horizontal (together with the peplum itself, you would look cut in two), or vertical (as that would make the outfit too busy).
  • Don't choose a peplum skirt unless you are very slim. 
  • Don't wear shorts with a peplum unless you have exceptionally good legs. 
  • Don't wear a peplum at low waist if you have a belly, as they emphazise the waist and direct the entire silhouette to your mid-section. Opt instead for one at high waist, but beware of creating any additional volume there.
  • Don't wear a peplum at high waist if you have a Body type B: it will make you look pregnant (which is OK if you are).
  • Don't pair your peplum with ankle boots, T-straps, ankle straps, gladiators, or anything else that cuts the line of the leg.

For specific styling tips for each body type:

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