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What body type works best for the peplum?

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

The question

Peplum designs are big this season, but can you wear them if you're wide in the hips? What kind of figure can pull them off best?

The answer

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At this time last year, "peplum" was about as obscure a word to non-fashion types as "hanging chad" was prior to the 2004 U.S. presidential election. And while the future of a country does not rest on these fabric flourishes, they can be the subject of some debate. Of course, it helps to first understand the construction of a peplum, which typically originates at the waist of a blouse, jacket or dress and flares outward like a truncated overskirt.

If the idea of extra volume around the hips spurs low-grade sartorial stress, consider that the peplum actually acts like a decoy by creating the illusion of a more idealized hip-to-waist ratio. In this way, peplums also help those with less shapely body types by creating new Coke-bottle curves. Personally, I'm grateful that they mitigate signs of a "food baby," more commonly known as bloat. In all cases, a peplum best fulfills its duty when paired with a streamlined bottom, such as a slim cigarette pant à la Dior Haute Couture or a pencil skirt. The finishing touch should be some extra sass in your step.

Amy Verner is The Globe and Mail's Paris-based style reporter. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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