Fashion / Review

Peplum Problems

I read my fair share of fashion blogs and magazines. It’s my way of unwinding. Yesterday I was leafing through Elle when I saw a feature on fashion advice that I thought kind of strange. A reader wrote in to ask how she could wear “peplum” dresses and tops, something that is coming back in style in a big way. If you don’t know what a peplum look entails, feast your eyes:

A peplum look from FW2012, Jason Wu. This girl looks pissed, probably because her skirt has another skirt on it.

The editor responded that yes, unless you lived under a rock, you probably noticed that peplums are trending hard. But she then went on to write that nobody looks good in them–not even, in large part, the models who are paid to make them work. It is after all, as she noted, a bunch of extra fabric around your hips, and there’s not a woman alive who benefits from that, no matter how skinny or beautiful she is. It’s just not flattering. Why would you put a little skirt on top of a big skirt anyway?

So if we’re agreed with this fairly influential fashion editor that peplums are simultaneously what everyone “wants” to wear, simply because we’re told that they’re in style, and yet no one looks good in them…well, why would we want to wear them? And if we don’t want to wear something that makes us look bad, then who says they’re in style? I’m a little confused.

Is it possible for something to be both trendy and universally disliked? I guess designers think that peplums are having a moment, but I’m talking about the product on the level of the ordinary consumer, here, not someone who can drop the price of a brand-new Lexus on a handbag.

It’s helpful to take a second to stop and think about what we consider important or trendy, and why. Do we really look that good in a crop top, for example? (I’m not calling you fat, I’m just asking whether showing that extra two inches of belly really does much for you).

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