The Controversial Peplum Trend Is Back With a Vengeance This Fall
If you kept up with style trends in the 2010s, you probably had a peplum top you paired with skinny jeans and ballet flats. (We don't blame you. We did, too.) From peplum blouses to dresses and skirts, the dramatic silhouette was everywhere. Now, over a decade later, the controversial fashion trend is making a comeback thanks to celebrities like Florence Pugh, Gabrielle Union, Angela Bassett, and Harry Styles, who aren't afraid to air out the retro ruffles one more time.
Notably, Union delivered a unique take on the trend in a Schiaparelli corset jumpsuit during a night out in Los Angeles on Oct. 13. The olive-green piece, designed by Daniel Roseberry, featured a gold three-button closure at the waist and seashell-inspired pleating along the bust. Union styled the plunging outfit, which flared at the hips, with a gold-and-silver statement choker and square-toe chrome heels.
Like flared jeans, the exaggerated peplum silhouette has elicited varied reactions from fashion lovers worldwide. Those in favor of the peplum trend often praise its ability to accentuate the smallest part of the waist — à la corset tops — and add volume to the hips. Those opposed to the dramatic design most frequently cite the wilted fabric that, when draped haphazardly, can end up looking messy at best and like a wrinkled bedsheet tucked into the waist at worst. Modern takes on the throwback look, though, boast one key difference: structure.
Most recently, designers such as Armani Privé, Viktor & Rolf, Givenchy, Dior, and Prabal Gurung have all showcased peplum silhouettes in runway shows, proving that the trend's return is more than just a sartorial phenomenon. By using stiffer fabrics and incorporating seasonal trends like sheer fabrics and sequins, these designers and more have managed to manipulate the peplum trend, reforming it into something fresher and more digestible for a 2023 audience.
Though we often associate it with the 2010s, the peplum trend dates as far back as ancient Greece, where people of all genders used the cinched waist and extended hips to emphasize an hourglass silhouette, according to MasterClass. The style gained even more popularity during the Renaissance era, which boasted detailed corset bodices attached to full skirts that extended at the waist. Today, the peplum style is romantic and experimental all at once, pressing the boundaries of what it means to be haute couture.
Considering some of our favorite fashion trends this year have been some of the most unusual — see thong boots and seven-inch platforms — we have hope that the peplum trend, as controversial as it is, will be leaving its mark the second time around.
Ahead, see how celebrities like Union, Anne Hathaway, and Anitta have been putting their own spin on the peplum trend.
Gabrielle Union Wearing the Peplum Trend
Union was the most recent celebrity to demonstrate the possibilities of the peplum trend when she attended the Schiaparelli and Neiman Marcus Cocktail Event in Los Angeles on Oct. 12. Subtle yet undeniably inspired by the peplum trend, Union's olive-green Schiaparelli jumpsuit featured a corset bodice with a plunging seashell bustier. Along the waist, the corset puffed out to create an exaggerated hip, further accentuated by the gold three-button detailing along the pants. She styled the ensemble with gold-and-silver jewelry and a light blue handbag.
Florence Pugh Wearing the Peplum Trend
As early as February, Pugh took on the controversial peplum trend when she strutted onto the red carpet at the London Critics' Circle Film Awards on Feb. 5 in a red Robert Wun column gown. The dramatic ensemble was adorned with a divisive ruffle around the waist and featured a matching hat with a floor-length veil. In addition to the obvious drama around the midriff, the dress featured a lace-up back. Pugh styled the sleek silhouette with layers of gold necklaces, hoop earrings, and bangles from Tiffany & Co.
Anne Hathaway Wearing the Peplum Trend
Hathaway merged Barbiecore with haute couture at the Valentino fall/winter 2023 show in Rome on July 8. Unlike the majority of peplum designs stealing the spotlight on the red carpet, Hathaway's pink sequin Valentino minidress featured the flare along the bust rather than the waist. The resulting ensemble created a striking silhouette, which she further accentuated with a pink handbag and pink platform sandals.
Harry Styles Wearing the Peplum Trend
Styles gave a glimpse at his chest tattoos in a peplum suit at the Brit Awards on Feb. 11. The black velvet suit — a Nina Ricci by Harris Reed piece — featured oversize satin lapels that beautifully balanced the flare of the peplum around his waist. The outfit also included '70s-style flared pants and a massive rosette neck corsage that brushed against his chin.
Angela Bassett Wearing the Peplum Trend
Bassett embraced peplum all the way down at the Critics Choice Awards in LA on Jan. 15. The Christian Siriano design featured a structured bustier bodice and velvet ruffles around the waist and skirt. She completed the ensemble with Messika jewelry and a Judith Leiber rhinestone clutch in a leopard print pattern.
Anitta Wearing the Peplum Trend
In 2022, Anitta embraced her edgy side in a vintage Issey Miyake molded bustier with a glossy finish. The backless design created a figure-hugging illusion around the bodice before flaring out into a set of cropped pleats. She styled the top with a floor-length pearl skirt by Rick Owens and a silver claw necklace set with black jade by Tiffany & Co.
Margot Robbie Wearing the Peplum Trend
On June 13, amid her all-pink "Barbie" press tour, Robbie broke up her monochrome wardrobe at the "Asteroid City" premiere in New York City. For the occasion, Robbie wore a two-tone minidress by Schiaparelli. The black-and-white design featured a belted waist and a smooth, peplum flare that appeared to hit just above her upper thigh before revealing a pearlescent, pleated skirt. She paired the velvet dress with diamond jewelry and black pointed-toe pumps.
Michelle Yeoh Wearing the Peplum Trend
Yeoh gave the peplum trend her stamp of approval in January while attending the Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, CA. As she walked the red carpet, Yeoh paused to show off her strapless Armani Privé dress from all angles. The midnight-blue gown featured a tiered column skirt embroidered with crystals and sequins. Her stylist, Jordan Johnson Chung, completed the look with shimmering jewelry, including a choker necklace by Moussaieff Jewellers.
Taylor Russell Wearing the Peplum Trend
Russell delivered major IDGAF energy when she attended the BAFTA Tea Party in Beverly Hills, CA, on Jan. 14. Strutting down the red carpet in pointed-toe, heeled sandals, the actor looked ready to party in a peplum biker jacket and high-slit skirt by Alexander McQueen. The red leather ensemble was embellished with silver zippers along the bodice and skirt, including along the hem of the voluminous peplum ruffle. Between the edgy fabric and striking silhouette, Russell's outfit delivered an alternative take on a traditionally feminine design.
Sydney Sweeney Wearing the Peplum Trend
Sweeney solidified the peplum trend even further at the Variety Power of Young Hollywood Event in Hollywood on Aug. 10. Taking a page from her fellow actors' styling books, Sweeney arrived in a three-piece leather dress, which included a corset top, a peplum belt, and a midi skirt over semi-sheer tights. As the corset cinched the waist, the unique belt accentuated the hips, creating a dramatic silhouette further amplified by the skirt's thigh-high slit and zipper detailing. She completed the ensemble with pointed-toe heels.