I could be slightly jealous of Soumya Parker for her runway model body type; it is especially perfect for this season. Peplum is back, and the Guardian called it the third installment in the trilogy of the hourglass silhouette – “The Waist” (in 2007), “Here Comes the Shoulder” (in 2009) and now “The Revenge of the Hips” (in 2012). Peplum is one of the classic styles that you should incorporate into your wardrobe forever.
To be exact, a peplum is a a short flared, gathered or pleated strip of fabric that is attached at the waist of a jacket, dress, or blouse – it actually started out as a short overskirt attached to jackets back in the 40s. Because Carrie Bradshaw’s body shape is similar to the inverted triangle that Soumya Parker’s is, Carrie was often seen in variations of the peplum style (See image below). Fast forward to this season and the red carpet, peplum is everywhere.
The peplum still forms a flounce over the hips, but it’s no longer in its classic form. Some designers have taken inspiration from the 80s, complete with bold polka dots, color and super-structured shape; others have played with spacey, modern, sci-fi and contemporary designs to create elegant and/or geometric looks. It can be worn soft, with ruffles, or dramatic, with crinoline. The style is excellent – it simultaneously accentuates the bust and tiny waist, while adding curve to the hip.
How to wear peplum:
1) Cinch your waist. Because the peplum style puts a lot of emphasis on the hip area, you must cinch the waist to avoid looking dowdy.
2) Fitted vs. flared peplum. A fitted peplum with emphasis on the cinched waist doesn’t hide curves but instead accentuates them nicely. The fitted peplum is actually more figure flattering than is the flared peplum, since it tends to deemphasize the hips. A flared peplum will create a fuller hourglass figure (it will make the hips look larger), while a fitted peplum uses less fabric and cinches at the waist.
3) Try going monochromatic. If the peplum silhouette makes you shy, consider a dark monochromatic style for optimal fabulousness and flattery. (See above – Blake Lively)
4) Boldly colored peplum styles can add style to this classic silhouette, especially with combined with a standout belt to highlight the waist. (See above – Rihanna) Perhaps liven up the peplum dress with a bright print. (See above – Leighton Meester)
Enjoy experimenting with this classic style! However, a few of caution when wearing peplum:
1) Often, women with larger figures attempt to hide their extra curves with extra fabric; counterintuitively, this only adds bulk. Do not do this with peplum, please.
2) The peplum should ideally start at the waist – when it starts at the hips, it will exxagerate the hips, often unflatteringly so.
3) If you are colorblocking with peplum, make sure the top and bottom balance themselves – neutrals with neutrals, brights with brights. (Emma Stone does this beautifully – see above)
4) Over-accessorizing is generally always a no-no, unless it’s specifically event-appropriate. When wearing peplum, simplicity is especially key.
5) For most body types, a fitted peplum is more flattering than a flared one, since it tends to draw attention away from the hips. Please consider your own body type and experiment with a few different peplum styles before settling in on a specific style.
To my muse: Soumya P., especially for a formal or semi-formal western style, you must try the peplum style. The peplum will add curves that will balance your body type perfectly, and your body type is ideal for every kind of peplum. The cinched waist in the fitted peplum is great for accentuating curves. To create the illusion of a larger hip, flared peplums are your calling – they will project an hourglass figure. Peplum dresses and jackets are intuitive; as ideas for separates, a peplum top can be paired with a pencil skirt to look slick and slim – a peplum belt can be added to a shift dress to take it from work-wear to evening wear.
Be sure to have fun with it. This style was practically made for you.