I have so much to say about peplums that this is going to be a two part post. This first one introduces the peplum and its journey through time.
Peplum is a word that, along with the fashion has gone largely underground for 70 years with only a brief resurfacing in the 1980s. However, it has been slowly making a comeback on the runways over the last few years, and this season it is really here with a vengeance.
First off, if you have never heard of it, you’ll be wanting a definition. A peplum is basically an over skirt, that is usually attached to another garment such as a jacket, blouse, skirt or dress. Its main purpose was essentially to highlight the mini waist by accentuating the hips.
These types of adornments stem from the embellished dresses of the 1800s and beyond. There are many examples at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (p.s. their website is simply amazing!).
The next big break for the peplum was in the 30s and 40s where it was a staple attached to dresses and jackets. There were many variations from long to short, even and uneven and a look at old pattern designs can give you a nice idea of their range. You can also see where todays inspirations come from out of this fashion era.
In reality these designs translate into pieces such as the ones just below, which are also part of the collection at The Met.
In the 50s, the peplum was done to a degree as it faded out, but not in any major way, which is made obvious by the fact that it is hard to find 50s dresses with them nowadays. Most true peplums of this time were similar to those in the 40s so there is no reason to search out 50s peplum dresses. However there were also several peplum inspired embellishments to one side or in the back, and several gathered versions which are really unique and very fashionable. It was a time for out with the old and in with the new! Here are some examples that you can get on Etsy:
And again, here are some absolutely gorgeous examples from The Met (the one on the left is Dior and the other two are by Charles James):
The peplum resurfaced with force in the 1980s, particularly for party dresses and suits, with variations from your wildest dreams. Here are a few amazing examples on Etsy. By the way, you can own these, and I recommend it!
For a few more crazy pieces have a look at my Etsy treasury: Wild Peplums of the 80s .
As I mentioned, peplums are everywhere now. Just open a fashion magazine or do a google search to see how these are being done today! What I love about taking a look back at them through time is that you can see where the inspirations come from, but also see what is new. These days, the peplum, as in the 80s, is important for party dresses, but similar to the 40s, it is also being done for day wear. I love how designers have taken it to a new complex level of geometrical, structured or floufy. Here are a few particularly spectacular examples:
Two of my next posts detail how to go vintage for this trend, both for beautiful peplum jackets and dresses as well as detachable peplum belts!
1. Sewing Made Easy; New Revised Edition. By Marie Lynch & Dorothy Sara. Garden City Books, ~1955. USA. Pgs. 360