Item of the week: the puff sleeve

What it is:

The puff sleeve trend has made its round through fashion over the last few
years, returning thanks to designers regularly experimenting with the
distinct sleeve look. Occasionally called ‘Juliet sleeves’ or ‘mutton
sleeves’, the style is often defined by a gathered shoulder and hem,
causing a ballooned silhouette in the centre. The puff sleeve’s current
presence is often linked to the ongoing ‘Regencycore’ trend, as made
popular by Netflix series Bridgerton, in which characters sport decadent
regal outfits complete with corsets and full skirts. It has also allowed
brands and designers to experiment with silhouettes, giving them a unique
shape to play with and generating fascinating results.

Image: Karl Lagerfeld

Why you’ll want it:

The puff sleeve allows shoppers to add an elevated element to their outfit
with minimal effort. Its connection to the aforementioned Regencycore trend
has also put it in the spotlight, especially on social media, allowing it
to take off and become a fashion-forward wardrobe staple for young
consumers. Its simplicity gives customers the option to play with their
look, in a style that works both formally and casually. Brands are also
experimenting with the design, meaning there is a wider variety of
iterations available for alternate customer groups each looking to get in
on this highly popular trend. The technique can be used for anything
ranging from blouses to dresses, each offering different outfit options and
opportunities, depending on customer requirements.

Image: United Colors of Benetton

Where we’ve seen it:

For her AW22 collection, Simone Rocha stuck to her typically
vintage-inspired aesthetic, with a series of dresses that utilised the
puffed sleeve technique, either in velvets or organzas. Similarly,
Zimmermann also opted to draw inspiration from eras past, with looks that
bore resemblance to the flower-power movement of the 60s. Floral dresses
and blouses, many with dramatic flares, were further exaggerated through
over puffed shoulder silhouettes. In contrast, Christian Siriano modernised
the technique through the use of varying materials for a collection of
regal gowns. The look was most notably achieved for one dress made in a
stiff, plastic-like material that helped create a more emphasised
structure. David Koma also offered up an alternative puff sleeve option in
a shoulderless mini dress for which the sleeves appeared further down in
the arm in an oversized puffed shape.

Image: Stella McCartney

How to style it:

In keeping with the Regencycore trend, take some tips from the costume
designs of Bridgerton. Pair a puff sleeve blouse with a flowing maxi skirt
and heels for an elevated evening look, or modernise the trend with an
oversized puff sleeve dress elongated with over-the-knee boots and simple
accessories. For effortless day attire, add a blouse to jeans or edge it up
with leather-look trousers for an easy-to-throw-on option. For outerwear,
the design can be worn with just about any coat or jacket, but the real
effect is in the piece itself, so make sure not to cover it up too much and
miss the puff sleeve’s appeal.

Image: Ted Baker

Linked to current social media trends and making big moves on runways
internationally, the puff sleeve is a popular design that is both elevated
and effortless. It’s a perfect piece for summer days or simple evening
looks, requiring little work and appealing to a wide customer base.

Image: Na-kd


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