The Peplum style is not to be understated. The style can predominately found in dresses, however, you can also see it in suits, skirts, tops and even coats. Here we’re going to delve into what the peplum is, about its popularity, celebrity fans, what you can wear with it and, most importantly, our favourite peplum dresses from our Diva Catwalk collection.
What is Peplum?
“Peplum comes from a Greek word for 'tunic' and is an almost skirt-like frill or addition. They were once fitted to a waistcoat or doublet, but now to a woman's bodice, extending it below the waistline.” – Business of Fashion
Although the peplum fashion is often said to date back to the 1940s, where more images are found of it's use, it can be seen in images like those above dating back to before 1849. This suggests it's possibility to actually be even older than first thought. As with all fashions, they can fizzle out before making a refreshed return. This happened when the peplum fazed out in the 1940s until a return in the 80s and, most recently, a revival in the naughties.
[left] A colour plate from Les Modes Parisiennes shows two women wearing afternoon gowns, with bow detailing. The woman on the right has a clear peplum design at the lower half of her coat. Paris, France 1849. [right] A model pictured wearing a feature a part of the 'New Look' range from celebrated designer Dior.
The Peplum Popularity
Wearing a peplum-styled garment can work for a number of body types. With Christian Dior's 'new look' of the 1940s putting emphasis on the female figure, mainly the bust and hips, many followed the trend. It became a popular choice for those wanting to emulate the silhouette, through fashion. The 'look' featured a combination of rounded shoulders, a cinched waist and a full skirt - all of which could be copied through the different uses of materials and accessories. Not only was it used within dresses, but also in suits like the one pictured.
As the 1940s crept in, the era of 'new look' was making itself very much known with models demonstrating the designs that featured shorter lengths and bustier styles. However, after the decade of new-look success, the want for the peplum style slowly died out, with newer styles like that of tailored skirt suits and Capri pants taking over.
As does happen with fashion, the want for the peplum made its full circle back into popularity in the 80s. The revival lasted longer this time and has continued to stay around with the increasing interest from the likes of Diana, the Princess of Wales, and others taking the stage with their own styles.
Pictured [left] is one of the first post-WWII creations by Dior - introducing formal attire with peplum beginnings in 'Wool'. Pictured [right] Dior model pictured wearing an item from the 'new look' collection, featuring peplum dresses.
In the 1980s designers such as John Galliano, developed dresses, like the one pictured [left] with structured peplum worn over a blouse or shirt and a Jasper Conran peplum gold satin strapless top with peplum and pocket flaps [right].
What body type does peplum look good on?
It's a misconceived idea that only certain body types can wear peplum dresses. Initially when the dress made a relative comeback in the 2000's it was stated that those with curvier figures, like an hourglass or pear shape, avoid its use due to it adding extra curves. This, however, has been widely ignored in recent years and instead of ruling against its wear it is instead suggested that we wear designs of peplum that flatter our shapes. For example, if you're a pear shape it may be best to wear a peplum with some detail around the shoulders, which would help balance out the length of the body. Whereas, if you're more top heavy, then opting for a wilder peplum material would again help balance out the overall appearance.
What to wear with a peplum dress
Seed Dawlish Jacket
The Tavistock Jacket
Rhianna Cropped Bolero
One of the most notable faces to wear peplum is Diana, the Princess of Wales. A fan of the peplum style she often wore the style when attending events and on private breaks too.
Diana was more often that not snapped in the peplum design during 80s.
Furthermore, in the same year of 1986, Diana is pictured a number of times in peplum, including a coat (a clear favourite) along with a polka dot blouse and again at Royal Ascot where she again favours a combination of both the peplum and polka dot, perhaps like many others also attending in their best peplum ladies day dresses.
What's more, just like Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge has fallen suit in wearing both peplums repeated outfits. And just like Diana, Kate has pictured a number of times wearing peplum style dresses, coats and skirts, just like her late mother-in-law. The Duchess of Cambridge is a fan of wearing all colours, which is said to be a credit to an influential nod from the Queen herself – who also is known for wearing bright summer colours.
Celebrities in Peplum
Diva Catwalk Peplum Impressions
The SEED Imperia Sleeved Peplum
The Azalea Peplum
The Evelyn Peplum
Dresses don't come more flattering than the Evelyn Peplum pencil dress. Made from high-quality stretch fabric, the pleating detail on the bodice works to define your waistline, creating a stunning hourglass silhouette. Wear any of the six stylish shades with a pair of heels, subtle silver necklace, updo hairstyle, for a look that will take you effortlessly from office to evening event.
The Velma Peplum
This dress is stunning and striking with bold contrasting strong lines. The peplum with contrast binding heightens the drama of this confident and eye-catching dress. A modern update on a classic timeless dress. A simple set-in mid-length sleeve that finished just below the elbow. Get ready to stun in the Velma dress.
The Moonlight Off-Shoulder Peplum
If you are after a stunning silhouette is there anything more perfect than a peplum dress? The Moonlight's tailored bodice focuses on flattering the waistline. While the off-shoulder neckline and peplum details bring a touch of dramatic glamour to the style. We recommend wearing it with a pair of black strappy heels.