Q. I’ve read in all of the fashion magazines that the peplum is one of the big trends for summer but – what exactly is a peplum? And, more importantly, how on earth do you wear one?

A. A peplum is a time-honoured dressmaker's device designed to exaggerate the curve of the hips rather than to mask it. A tiny, full skirt, sprouting from the hem of a jacket that falls just to the waist is the most usual incarnation of the style.

It's been a haute couture staple for decades - even the ancient Greeks were rather partial to a peplum - but this season it’s hit the mainstream. Seen on the autumn/winter 2011 catwalks at fashion houses such as Givenchy, Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney, it's a big hit for spring/ summer 2012.

This season's peplum trend has the power to give you killer curves like never before. Giving the illusion of a smaller waist and womanly hips, this is the sexiest shape of the season. It can be worn in the office, or even on a night out. The high street has embraced the trend, giving us a number of styles, from peplum dresses to exaggerated peplum skirts and tops. The peplum adds shape to the figure; however, this will only be achieved if the garment fits perfectly around the waist.

Keep the silhouette simple, avoiding fussy jackets or scarves (as this will ruin the sculptural shape) and finish your look with a pair of killer heels. Problem solved.