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A woman wearing a shirt with an overskirt, or peplum, bottom hem

An overskirt, or peplum, is a type of elongated hem resembling a short skirt, worn to lie over another garment, either another skirt such as a petticoat or underskirt, or breeches.

Overskirts may serve various purposes, ranging from protecting the underlying clothing from mud and dirt, to being purely a decorative feature. Overskirts have been popular as a clothing detail for both men and women during various periods of history. More recently, they are associated with women's jackets and blouses, included in closely fitted clothing, where they accentuate a narrow waist, or light materials to create a casual sense of elegance.

Overskirts first came into fashion during the Victorian Era in 1867, after the pre-hoop and hoop periods of multiple petticoats and crinoline, and before the bustle period. A reduction in overall shirt size was seen at this time. Fashion in ladies dresses changed from the wide, very lacy skirts, to a more conical shape that diminished at the hips. Early skirts were often looped up for walking, showing a pretty petticoat underneath, which led to the introduction of the overskirt.[1]

There have been many predecessors to the fashionable overskirt, such as bibs and aprons used to protect clothing underneath. Today, overskirts can be a separate article worn over shorts or another dress, or a continuation on a shirt or jacket of longer or pleated material. Popular modern overskirt fashion are sheer materials, tulle, and lace patterns that allow see through to garments beneath such as half-skirts.

The term "peplum" originates with the ancient Greek peplos, a women's garment that had the same decorative detail as an overskirt.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History Pre-Hoop". Trulyvictorian.com. Retrieved 2014-06-04.