What is Peplum?

What is Peplum

Peplum has exploded onto the fashion scene in recent years and it shows no signs of stopping. With celebrities like Julia Roberts and Jennifer Lawrence sporting this trend at the Academy Awards, this style is proving that it is here to stay. So, what exactly is peplum? Peplum is a piece of extra fabric that is attached to the waistline of a top, jacket, dress, or skirt. The peplum flares out and down towards the hips to create the silhouette of a cinched waist. The peplum accentuates a woman’s curves to give the illusion of an hourglass figure.



What is Peplum: Peplos


Peplum comes from the Greek word “peplos”, meaning tunic or shawl. Back then, women used a piece of fabric or a rope to cinch the waist of a tunic over a longer skirt.

peplum hem on riding jackets in the 19th century

peplum hem on riding jackets in the 19th century

At certain points during the 19th century, the peplum appeared in the form of an overskirt, a shorter skirt worn over a long skirt. The overskirt flared out over the hip to create volume and emphasize the woman’s backside. The peplum hem was also seen on women’s riding jackets, worn while riding side-saddle on a horse. The peplum would start at the natural waist and flare out to cover some of the skirt.

The resurfaced again in the 1930’s and 1940’s, where it was seen attached to dresses and jackets. This era saw many variations of the peplum: long or short, straight ends or asymmetrical hemlines, and ruffled or plain. After WWII, the style went out of fashion. It made a small resurgence in the mid to late 1980s. The wide and voluminous peplums seen in the 80’s were a compliment to the oversized shoulders that were en vogue at the time.

Peplum: 1930s-1940s, 1980s, Jil Sander in 2011

left to right: 1930s-1940s, 1980s, Jil Sander in 2011

After the 80s, the peplum trend fizzled out. In the last couple years, the peplum has come back in a big way. The beginning of the peplum’s revival can be traced back to Jil Sander’s Spring 2011 runway show, where models are seen sporting dresses with flared waistlines. Other high-end designers, celebrities on the red carpet, and retailers took a cue from the fashion show and re-introduced peplum to mainstream fashion. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Types of Peplum Garments

The Peplum for Your Body Type

Because the peplum tends to emphasize the woman’s curves, many women tend to think that it only works for a certain body type. But thankfully, not all peplums are made equal. There are different cuts that are flattering to different body shapes.


Peplum for Your Body Type: Athletic

If you have little to no curves, this style can be perfect to create an optical illusion. Look for versions that have a cinched waist. This, combines with a voluminous fabric and silhouette, will instantly give you fuller hips. You might even fool people into thinking you have some curves!


Peplum for Your Body Type: Petite

Petite women can wear the peplum trend too, as long as it is not overly flared or lengthy. Anything that is too ruffled or gathered will overwhelm a small frame. Instead, look for a peplum that is short and pleated.


Peplum for Your Body Type: Apple

For women who are fuller on the top, such as those with apple-shaped or inverted triangle body types, a flared peplum is ideal. This style has a silhouette similar to an A-line skirt. It flares outward from the hips, a trick that fills out your bottom half, making your body look more proportional. This subtle shape also works with most other body types.


Peplum for Your Body Type: Pear

Pear-shaped women may be turned off by the idea of emphasizing their hips even more with the peplum trend.  Fear not! As long as you stay away from structured peplum and opt for version with soft, flowing ruffles instead, you’ll still be able to look great in this trend.


Peplum for Your Body Type: Circle

Self-conscious about your mid-section? Try opting for a pleated peplum. The greatest thing about this style is that it does double duty: it de-emphasizes the belly while accentuating the hips and bum. Just make sure the peplum starts above your stomach and is long enough to cover your entire midriff.


Peplum for Your Body Type: Hourglass

If you have an hourglass figure, you’re in luck! The peplum looks best on women with an hourglass shape. So go out, have fun, and experiment with all these different types of silhouettes to find your favorite style.


With its extreme versatility and sweet, feminine shape, the peplum is here to stay. The silhouettes compliment all body types to give you those “va-va-voom” curves. Instantly look flirty and fashionable by wearing peplum skirts, peplum dresses, peplum tops, and even peplum blazers. With all these benefits, there’s no reason not to hop on the bandwagon and start rocking this trend!