Don’t Freak Out, But the Peplum Is Back

They're nothing like you remember.

Emma Grede wears a modern peplum top

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The peplum is one early 2010s trend that didn't seem to be gaining traction again — that is, until recently. The natural waist-accentuating ruffle detail that, when mentioned in millennial company will cause a series of wincing cringes, has finally joined its 2000s brethren as a throwback trend that you're about to see everywhere. But happily, the peplum of 2023 looks less like a bed skirt tacked onto your waist, and more like a structured silhouette that subtly highlights your shape.

If you're not racing to add a peplum dress to your online shopping cart yet, we get it. The peplums of yesteryear were highly questionable. The peplums of tomorrow, however, have been spotted up and down runways during fashion week the world over, from fashion houses like Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, and Proenza Schouler. Ahead, we explain exactly what makes the Peplum 2.0 a fashion trend to embrace, not flee from.

A model wears a peplum jacket and talks the runway during the Alexandre Vauthier Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2022 show as part of Paris Fashion Week
Alexandre Vauthier.

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The next generation of peplums still draw the eye to the waist, but they do so with fringe, silk, and layered chiffon. The white peplum vest spotted on the Proenza Schouler runway in February during New York Fashion Week has more in common with a vintage corset — very on trend right now — than a Y2K peplum top.

A model wears a strapless peplum top and walks the runway for Proenza Schouler during New York Fashion Week:
Proenza Schouler.

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Organic silhouettes are also very much of the peplum's reinvention. A crystal-encrusted gown in the Saiid Kobeisy Haute Couture show at Paris Fashion Week in February sported a gauzy peplum that evoked slowly unfurled petals more than middle school dance outfits.

 A model wears a peplum dress and walks the runway during the Saiid Kobeisy Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2022 fashion show
Saiid Kobeisy Haute Couture.

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Not all of the new peplum shapes are quite so unstructured, but the structures themselves manage to be both modern and classic. Softer fabric peplums feature pleats or ruching while the stiffer versions embrace both femininity and hard edge. On the Givenchy Womenswear Spring/Summer 2022 runway, the peplum tops managed to evoke both the plated armor of a medieval knight and the structured corsets of Tudor-era nobility all tied neatly with a modern bow and a dash of fringe.

A model wears a peplum top and walks the runway during the Givenchy Womenswear Spring/Summer 2022 show

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Peplum lengths are also getting a makeover, from Francisco Cancino's swishy, loosely pleated peplum baby tees that debuted during Mexico Fashion Week in April to an array of peplum jackets that fan out from hip to thigh.

A models wears a peplum and walks the runway during the Francisco Cancino show as part of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Mexico 2022
Francisco Cancino.

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If you're wondering how the modern peplum translates from runway to IRL dressing, we've got you covered with peplum top outfit ideas to try this summer. From celebrating and accentuating your curves to incorporating seasonal trends you already love like vests, sheer fabrics, and sequins, there are plenty of ways to make a modern peplum work for you.

Hug Your Curves

Sophia Brown wears a purple peplum corset top.

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Shop Similar: Reformation Top, $148
One way to embrace the modern peplum is to look for a corset-style top with a slightly exaggerated silhouette at the hem. This approach isn't just trendy, it's also wearable in both stiffer and softer fabrics.

Stick to Soft and Sheer

Maria Valverde wears a peplum vest.

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Shop Similar: Venus Swiss Dot V-Neck Top, $35.
A peplum doesn't have to be wildly exaggerated. In fact, the gauzy materials that make this trend stand out are more suited to subtle pleats and ruffles.

Go Business Casual

Cassandra Can wears a peplum blazer.

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Shop Similar: AKIRA Mila Corseted Blazer, $90.
A smart peplum-style blazer is a no-brainer. You can stick to a subtle silhouette or embrace sheer paneling for a more dramatic look.

Opt for Outerwear

Wendy Raquel Robinson wears a peplum jacket.

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Shop Similar: Lulu's Sweet Victory Black Pleated Tie-Front Peplum Top, $55.
Wearing a peplum as part of a chic jacket is one way to test out the trend. Alternatively, you can wear a lightweight peplum jacket with nothing underneath as a sultry statement-making look for a night out.

Try Metallics

Anitta wears a metallic peplum top.

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Shop Similar: Ronny Kobo Nelly Top, $378.
You don't need to be accepting a major music award or riding into battle to wear a metallic, armor-inspired peplum top. You can also pair it with wide-leg high-waisted jeans or a jersey maxi skirt.

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