Ask A Fatshionista

Ask A Fatshionista: In Defense of Peplums

OK, actually, I don’t care if you like them. But I care if you hate them.

As with any trend, there’s bound to be some backlash. Not everything looks good on everyone, and not everyone will like everything. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But sometimes we need to look at why something becomes reviled.

For the uninitiated, peplums are like a little skirt that’s attached to a blouse or the bodice of a dress. Observe:

An image of a woman wearing a strapless, sequined peplum top.
Photo via

Peplums are just one of many things out there that won’t work for everyone, and that’s OK. My personal opinion is that they look excellent on plus-sized women and anyone with a lot of curves, but that’s not exclusive, of course. If you like them, rock them.

But there are plenty of people out there who absolutely loathe them. Again, on the surface, that’s fine. But I think we should talk about why there’s a harsh anti-peplum sentiment.

The complaint that comes from my fellow fat ladies is that they’re on everything. It’s true; there was a bit of a market saturation. There’s probably an argument that the flared bottom plays into the idea that you should hide if you have a belly, but that’s not the point right now.

My point is, why is there such virulent backlash against something that has been heavily marketed toward plus sizes? It probably isn’t conscious on the part of most haters, but it seems that there’s an element of sizeism involved. Because, while peplums are available across the board, they were very heavily marketed to plus lines. Generally, when a hot trend shows up in plus lines, it’s either a season late or a half-hearted afterthought. This one really felt like it was ours.

So, naturally, it’s icky. I mean, who wants to dress like those fatties, right? No, not everyone who dislikes them is overtly doing it because they don’t want to be associated with larger people, but it feels like the overall trend toward dislike coincides with the adoption of the trend by plus lines.

Think of it this way – what other trends are reviled? Why? The first one that comes to mind is skinny jeans or leggings-as-pants. Frequently the argument against those is “some women just shouldn’t be wearing those.” Basically, that it’s not for you if you are over a certain size. It’s another way in which associating a trend with fat people makes it hated, even if it’s not in exactly the same way.

Now, as I keep saying, there’s nothing wrong with not liking a trend individually. But I’ve noticed a lot of visceral hate and strong language that goes into decrying fashion choices, which is really unfortunate. Often, what we dislike has an undertone of sizeism, classism, or racism, and that’s not OK.

I’m writing this as what I hope to be the start of a regular column, where people ask me for fashion advice. I pledge to keep it positive and not use hateful words to describe something I don’t like. That’s not to say I’ll lie or sugar coat anything. I just won’t be hateful.

Need outfit advice, shopping tips, or have any other fa(t)shion questions? Email

By [E] Liza

PhD student. Knitter. Brooklynite. Long-distance dog mom. Reluctant cat lady. Majestic unicorn whose hair changes color with the wind.

8 replies on “Ask A Fatshionista: In Defense of Peplums”

I love peplum, primarily because it’s a fun word to say, “Peplum!” I kind of adore them on pretty much everyone. They’re fun, cute, a bit retro, and, if one wanted to say, “Hey! Here’s my waist,” they’re very good at that.

Leggings as pants, though? Tricky. With a flowing shirt that goes past the bum or dress that’s maybe a bit too short for propriety (I’m a bit old-fashioned that way), I’ll buy it. But as standalone pants with a t-shirt? I’m against it for a lot of reasons, most of them having to do with the fact that I’m probably a bit more formal than most and think leaving the house should require a step up past what are essentially long underwear.

I used to be vehemently opposed to leggings as pants, but one day I tried a pair of jeggings (awful name) shorts, and they are SO FLIPPIN COMFORTABLE! I got some pants length ones that I plan to wear with some longer shirts that fit close enough that that with regular pants you can see the shape of the button area-like a really low outie belly button.

Also, I’m like 3 different dress sizes between my waist and my knees, so the increased amount of stretch means less frustration, and the fabric is softer than stretch jeans. But unless they’re styled to look like pants, I make sure my rear end is covered.

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