Break the Rules, Not the Bank: 7 Ways to Wear Peplum

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Meet my green and white peplum skirt. In a sense, you own it too. Perhaps it's a skirt whose silhouette, color scheme, and pattern drew you in initially, but left you with a suddenly acute case of buyer’s remorse, wondering what on earth you have to wear with it as soon as you've removed it from the wrapping tissue. Or maybe you had an intense one-season love affair, only to find it completely unwearable a mere three months later.

I bought this Edme and Estylle summer skirt on sale after coveting it at full price for several months. Once it was marked down, the only available skirt was a couple sizes too large for me, but after locking eyes with it, I knew it belonged in my life. I altered it to fit my waist with just a couple loop stitches.

Yet I found myself reaching for this gem less and less. When faced with setting it aside or giving it a second chance, I chose the latter. And what ensued has been a beautiful friendship.

The difficulty of styling clothes with unusual patterns, silhouettes, or off-beat details (for example, this skirt has whimsical, metal airplane charms sewn on at the top) is ultimately also the fun of it. I challenged myself to wear this skirt in a week’s worth of ways and here's what transpired:

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01. Given my weakness for odd patterns paired with anything floral, I wore this structural top from Anthropologie, adding basic white heels from H&M. Floral fabric adds a fun bravery to things. Small dogs on little leashes don’t hurt, either!

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02. Much the same as a basic white button-down, denim can be paired with anything. I wore this denim shirt with some denim-lined wedges scored from Anthropologie’s sale section which have fun bursts of floral at the peep toe.

03. I rolled the sleeves of this wrinkled, oversized oxford (from Gap’s sale rack) up past my elbows, tucking the front of the shirt in tightly at the waist, with its tail untucked in the back. The pink stripes gave me an excuse to incorporate my hot pink heels, which are often a hard accessory to utilize.

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04. In need of a more conservative alternative, I wore a demure chiffon top with a beaded Peter Pan collar that paired easily with my cream-colored linen pumps. Again and again, I’ve found nude shades to be the most elegant, versatile colors for summer.

05. For this look, I ignored the skirt’s pattern and color altogether. Instead, I opted for a silk polka-dot blouse and pumps with black details. I like to think that, in a sense, the shoes and the top have an inside joke between each other that the skirt has been completely left out of.

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06. I love to pair the “sweet” silhouette of high-waisted skirts with broken-in (even ratty) tees, by cutting two or three inches off a shirt’s bottom hem. The small bit of separation between the shirt’s end and the skirt’s beginning creates a shape I really love—and frees you from having to tuck it in!

07. For the last day, I wanted to honor the color of the skirt but veer off a bit on various shades of green, wandering a little further toward blue and mixing it up with horizontal stripes.

Even though I’ve owned this skirt for a few years, it continues to teach me more about the clothes I already own. Never discount the older pieces in your closet you assume are no longer cool enough to wear. Fads come and go, but quality items and a personal sense of style are irreplaceable, and—if you let them—they will continually create fun new looks to explore.