If fall’s most mystifying trend was the mullet dress, spring offers an equally mystifying take on the idea. For spring it’s all about the peplum skirt. This is one of those trends that I am skeptical I will ever be able to get on board with. I am usually one to buy into just about any and every trend. I believe firmly in the concept so eloquently played out on Leandra Medine’s blog The Man Repeller, that women dress not for men, but largely for themselves and each other, and there is an enormous amount of pleasure to be gotten from indulging in the most preposterous of trends no matter how ugly and inexplicable men might find them. When I think about fashion and getting dress, it aspires at its best to art, not to a sales pitch for my sexuality. But a girl’s got to draw the line somewhere, and the peplum may be one of the most horrid design elements I have ever seen.
The peplum skirt was certainly a presence on the spring runways…
whether at Jason Wu
Cushnie et Ochs
or Badgley Mischka
… but what really intrigues me is that it seems to have had a broad enough response from the consuming public that as the fast fashion retailers refresh their spring stock and styles, they seem to be bringing in more and more peplums.Why? Who is wearing all of these clothes?
on the shelves at Zara …
Topshop or Asos
As if peplum dresses and peplum skirts weren’t enough, suddenly Zara’s shelves are bursting with peplum tops and jackets.
(is that last top a little bit cute or is that me starting to drink the kool aid? or this Topshop jacket?
And yet, I don’t even entirely understand my own disdain for this ridiculous fashion. Theoretically the problem is that no woman wants some ridiculous extra layer of fabric making her yet broader in the hips than she already is. But perhaps it is more that the peplum looks about as logical as a vestigial tail. I am, in fact, a big fan of the related, if perhaps slightly more understated, style of the bell skirt. The bell skirt in essence absorbs the peplum into the body of the skirt itself. The entire skirt takes on the volume of the peplum, which sounds like it should be worse but is in reality a significantly more elegant design.
The problem started in my house with those Mary Katrantzou for Topshop dresses.
For me it was love at first sight, although I couldn’t be sure of whether that was because it was in fact a good shape for a dress, but because my consuming adoration of Mary Katrantzou makes me absolutely blind to the possibility that she could ever make a less than inspired choice. My husbands position was that the exaggerated shape of the skirt was not flattering, ever, but particularly not flattering given my deficiencies in stature (and my short legs and all that good stuff that I’d really rather not think about). I did not buy either of the Mary Katrantzou dresses only in small part due to my husband’s certainty that they wouldn’t look good on me, but largely due to the $600 price tag. As the season goes on and I think more about the style, I think my husband is entirely wrong in his assessment. Why is the bell skirt unflattering? Because it makes the wearer look wide in the hips? Really? You look at a woman in a bell dress and suddenly think that her hips are actually way out there meeting up with the contours of the skirt? If that’s truly what it looks like to a man then he really has no place commenting on fashion and should keep his thoughts to himself. I would propose that, quite the opposite, when coupled with a dramatically nipped in waist, the style is extremely flattering. Since everyone knows your hips do not possibly have the same silhouette as the skirt of your bell shaped dress (even if they in fact do) the illusion is that your hips must of course be significantly smaller than that, in fact, you probably have lovely delicate hips that perfectly match that nipped in waist and how on earth did you give birth to three children? Now that is one damn good dress if you ask me — I’ll take five thank you very much.
(First five dresses from Zara.com. The last dress is at Asos.com.)