A small history of the PEPLUM/BASQUE DRESS

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Looking through historical archives and books on fashion history, we encounter this silhouette dress on ladies of high society in France from the XVIII century. But true popularity it gained at the court of the English Queen Victoria when ladies started to sew it over the dress body top. Then for a long time this silhouette was forgotten.


It was reborn in the Forties of the last century thanks to Cristobal Balenciaga, being of Spanish origins, he used this application detail (called later “basque”), which to be honest, was a detail applied on men garments from the region of Basque, in Spain. Later, in 1947, Christian Dior borrowed this element to create his timeless “New look” style dress. Since then, a dress with such application detail was mainly associated with these two big couturier designers. Today it has a new vibe, more statuary and architectonical, and one of the most recent designers that brought the BASQUE/PEPLUM dress on-trend in the Fashion House Givenchy, look at the runways for SS-2022 ready-to-wear collection.


Some dress styles are made to create MACRO-trends, meaning they remain in fashion from season to season, never losing their sex appeal and interest of designers and the public; while some other style dresses are like volcanoes, they erupt with intensity on the fashion area creating a wave of interest and admiration, but then the next season it will be forgotten. Well, it seems like the PEPLUM style dress is part of the second category, creating short but very popular and intense MICRO-trends that sign a particular season, that’s why it is a golden ticket for fashionistas around the world

The PEPLUM style dress is creating a very sensual and feminine silhouette with a Spanish scent. The peplum is a detail, a short section of fabric, that is attached to the waistline of a dress, a blouse, or a jacket, adding structure to the silhouette, visually creating seductive body shape, and emphasizing the waistline. This detail is adding sex appeal to the dress.


A PEPLUM dress may be of any length, from mini to maxi. The decorative peplum application may have different aspects, from a slim regular fabric to cut in two halves symmetric or asymmetric, but always appearing like a “second dress” worn on top; it can be worn on top as a belt or sewed to the bodice, and it can have many different aspects: it can be straight, or bouffant, multi-layered or asymmetric (shorter in the front and longer on the back), it can be of the same material and color as the dress or it.


The purpose of this style dress, achieved through the application of such detail as peplum, is to create an attractive hourglass silhouette, sexy and feminine.

At the same time, this detail (peplum) helps hide imperfections, such as a rounder belly and larger hips by creating a “shortage” between two layers of fabrics.

However, do not exaggerate with its volume because it may also have the opposite effect, it may visually shorten a woman’s figure, therefore petite ladies shall give preference to models with a peplum application that are shorter and less wavy, while tall ladies may wear garments with long and bouffant peplum, as they please. Either way, with this silhouette dress, avoid wearing massive shoes (nothing with squared tips or heels, no boots); the best will be a pair of stilettoes, slingbacks, or sandals.


For ladies with large hips (particularly the pear silhouette) are recommended dresses with peplum lines just below or slightly above the wider part of the hips line.

Ladies with a preeminent bust line shall give preference to a proportionate wavy peplum of medium length; a peplum that is too short may look a bit ridiculous and disproportionate to the bust line.

The PEPLUM dress is already rich in design; therefore, it does not require additional accessories. However, to complete the look, wear bold statement make-up (at least, put on a red lipstick, your favorite). 

Best wishes,


MetropolitanMe Blogger

Photo resources: matchesfashion.com