How to wear peplum

This plenty by Tracy Reese vivid blue violet

This plenty by Tracy Reese vivid blue violet peplum shell is the perfect topper for pants and jeans; $158 at tracyreese.com ( http://TracyReese.com ). (Credit: Handout)

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Some trends can be downright scary. And, for those of us who are not exactly sylphlike, perhaps nothing is more figure-frightening than the notion of adding a few extra yards of fabric around your waist or hips. Yikes!

So it's not surprising that for many women, the gut reaction to this season's ubiquitous peplum is definitive: "No way!" But naysayers to the peplum phenom ought to think again, as that added flounce of fabric offers a bonus: It can be figure flattering.

So says fashion expert, author and frequent "Today" show contributor Jacqui Stafford. "Surprisingly, the peplum works well on several different body types. If you're straight up and down without many curves, it creates the illusion of a curvaceous frame," she says. For pear-shaped types, "It shifts the focus up, cinching the waist and skimming over the widest part of the body."

While peplums add "volume," says Stafford, "they don't add bulk, and they emphasize the slimmest part of your waist."

But let's be honest here. As designer Tracy Reese admits (and she's offering loads of peplum looks), "This silhouette is not for every woman's body type." Stafford is more specific. "Women with very thick middles are at risk of looking like an elephant in a tutu." (Um, not a good thing.)

But for most women, Reese says, a little peplum is a good thing. "It creates curves on those less shapely and at the same time flatters a curvy body, while maintaining the hourglass shape all of us ladies strive for!" Amen to that.

At any age

There are virtually no age constraints on peplum-wearing, says Stephanie Solomon, the fashion director at Bloomingdale's, where there are peplums aplenty.

"There are no age boundaries. Shorts and hot pants are a big trend now, but I wouldn't recommend them for women of a certain age. But peplums work across the board."

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