I deliberately chose photos for this post that some may find challenging. Please let’s not snark on bodies or on personalities in the comments. Whether the person is fat or thin or famous or obscure, body-snark is not acceptable. We are looking at the variations of a cut of fabric, objectively, with the aim of improving our sewing.
Peplum-snarking is fair game though- the peplum is an object and not a human being.
Watch the Length
Remember a few months ago when I asked for hand-widths? I was working on the proportions of the Hummingbird Peplum. My own hand width seemed to create a pleasing peplum width for my proportions, and I wondered if that would work for other sizes. Not so much, and I found another way to scale the peplums for size.
This photo shows a peplum silhouette I see all the time, and it drives me a little crazy! (Ever see someone out and about and think “Please let me lengthen your peplum?” That’s me..) The shorter peplum combined with larger hips only serves to exaggerate the hip width here, and it looks a little like the top of the model’s body doesn’t belong with her hips below. Of course they do! Here’s a few more examples of disproportionate peplum length:
This looks off in much the same way as the first peplum top + pants combination, though this peplum is a little longer. The mis-matched effect is exacerbated by the use of a dark fabric on top and a lighter fabric below and by the face that the waistline seam looks like it’s higher than her natural waist, not deliberately* but in a “Ready-to-wear-clothing-is-my-only-choice” way.
This is an example of a mis-placed waist seam. The beauty of a peplum is that it creates the illusion of a waist for those who might not have much definition in that area, and for those who do have a waist it’s one of those styles that accentuates the waist and forgives the muffin tops / tummy area. Why oh why hike that seam up to the underbust area?? This might be cute on those with a straight up and down figure, but I think that’s all…
On the other hand, too long or too full of a peplum can dwarf a thinner/petite figure. To me this peplum looks like it’s right on the edge of swallowing her whole.
Meanwhile, the Duchess of Cambridge wears a small, neat peplum that matches her small, neat frame.
Kim K and Ruffled Peplums
I don’t know who is in charge of dressing this woman, but I think they ought to be fired. Whatever we may think of her career, she’s a beautiful woman with a fuller figure who makes interesting style choices. A little ruffled peplum like this isn’t right for her. For one, it’s far too narrow to work with her proportions. For the other, the gathered ruffle just adds bulk around her midsection, rather than grace.
But here the ruffled peplum band (it’s on the skirt rather than the top…) works great for a thinner figure. It’s not so long or fluffy that it overpowers her frame, and lends a little softness.
Peplums and Tummies
I like this dress on this model. It’s a great color for her, and the fit looks good too. I’d suggest the addition of a belt (because I’m not a fan of elastic waists sans belts), and once again I find myself wishing I could add some length to a RTW peplum. Try holding your finger up to the computer screen just below the hem and take a good look. Then pull your finger away. A little extra length there would go a long way towards creating a more pleasing set of proportions (and maybe move that waistline seam a few inches south). That’s what I mean when I talk about peplums lending grace to the figure. Like this one:
I love this! The colors work well for her, and the peplum is very well proportioned for her figure. She looks like her clothes belong to her.
Sewists’ Tips for Peplum Proportion:
Remember, we can sew. We are not at the mercy of RTW and arbitrary peplum lengths. To make a nicely proportioned peplum top regardless of figure size or shape, it’s easy to add some length or remove it when we cut. The Hummingbird Peplum is proportionately wider as size increases.
- *Use waistline seam placement to your advantage. Shorter waisted people can balance their figure visually by placing a waistline seam slightly lower than their natural waist, and a long-waisted person can place the seam a little higher than their natural waist. It’s a small way to trick the eye, 1-2″ or so but no more.
- The hem of the peplum should hit just above the fullest part of the hip for optimal visual impact. The eye will follow the hip curve as it bends towards the waist and disappears into the peplum. Regardless of tummy or muffin bulge (which disappears under the peplum anyway), this is the most pleasing hem placement for that reason.
- For those who wish to lend grace to the tummy area, forget about the hip-curve hem placement and instead focus on hemming the peplum slightly below the tummy.
- Smaller figures look best in smaller peplums- either tailored or ruffly, but keep in mind the Hungry Peplum Monster- an oversized peplum that will swamp a smaller frame.
I pinned more “good” peplums for various figure types (skewing toward curvy), check it out for inspiration.
What do you think about peplum proportioning? If you’d like to add an image to illustrate your idea, then do link. Linking is good.