Feminine and empowering, puff sleeves are back in style. Here's everything you need to know about this fabulous trend.

What are puff sleeves?

Puff sleeves are a style of sleeves used to decorate tops and dresses. The purpose of puff sleeves is to allow one to appear more dramatic. Puff sleeves are made by gathering material at the shoulder and or below the shower. In some cases, this form of embellishment is also referred to as balloon sleeves. Today, the term puff sleeves is used almost interchangeably to describe any type of sleeves that are wide at the shoulder.

Types of sleeves

History of puff sleeves

The style first appeared during the Renaissance era. At the time, both wealthy (and powerful) men and women wore clothing with exaggerated sleeves as a fashion statement.

Renaissance Wedding

Wedding of Anne de Joyeuse with Marguerite de Vaudémont,1581

However, puff sleeves became popularized during the Edwardian era as a trompe l'oeil (optical illusion) device for women to appear slender at the waist achieving an hourglass figure. A variation of this style also emerged called the Gigot sleeves (French for sheep's hindleg) in which the sleeves appear wider from the shoulder to the elbow but would narrow down from the elbow to the wrist.

Puff sleeves in the modern era

In the modern era, the popularity of puffy sleeves rose again during three particular decades: the 1930's, the 1980's, and 2019.

Iconic looks from the 1930's.Vintage style stockings
Ethel Meran Legg Portrait, circa 1930.

Dynasty TV Show
Dynasty TV Series, circa 1980's

Princess Diana's Wedding gown
Princess Diana Wedding Gown, circa 1981.

Fashion runway, circa 2019

How to wear puff sleeves

Today, puffy sleeves are attributed to being feminine and whimsical. Depending on the color and material, puffy sleeves can also be regarded as romantic or empowering. Here are four ways you can wear puff sleeves.


Black tights and puffy sleevesAlessandra rich black blouse available at Avenue 32, black leather mini-skirt available at Wolf & Badger, CLAUDIA thigh highs by VienneMilano.Floral dress and thigh highsMulticoloured silk floral dress by Joseph, black straw floppy hat by Horisaki Design & Handel, Black tights by VienneMilano.Fashion style outfit 2Black floral mini-skirt by Dorothy Perkins, white blouse available from Farfetch, CLAUDIA matte stockings by VienneMilano.Trendy stylePurple mini bag available from SSENSE, floral gown by Rosie Assoulin, violet thigh highs by VienneMilano.Black and white outfitPinafore dress by Comme des Garcons, Georgia black bag by Chloé, black matte tights by VienneMilano.


What are the occasions to wear puff sleeves?

Given that this type of accent tend to look dramatic and playful, we suggest puffy sleeves are acceptable for parties, weekends with friends, and even weddings.

What can be worn with puff sleeves?

One fabulous way to complete your dramatic look is by wearing stockings. We recommend CLAUDIA matte and ISABELLA sheer thigh highs.

Stockings can help elevate your ensemble commanding the attention which you deserve. Shop VienneMilano.com today – get $10 off with voucher code ILOVEMYLEGS

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