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Fashion How to rock puff sleeves this summer

Jun. 17, 2019
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I have to admit it—some of my earliest style icons were Disney princesses, the likes of Cinderella and Snow White. No matter how far we progress into the 21st, I don’t think I’ll ever stop romanticizing basque waistlines and tulle skirts. It should therefore shock no one that puffy sleeves are a 2019 fashion trend I’m totally down with. 

Depending on their size and volume, puff sleeves can be delicate and modest, or make a bold statement. Nonetheless, they’re invariably feminine and flattering, and I intend to stay in them all summer long.

Below, I make the case that there are puff-sleeved garments suitable for nearly every taste and occasion: from girly to goth, party to professional.

Casual

This AE Neon Short-Sleeve Smocked Top would make a great introduction to puff sleeves for a casual fashion-lover. For a laid-back look, I suggest pairing this top with sneakers and denim jeans or shorts. Not only is it available in XXS-XXL, but its flexible smocked waist is a wonderful feature if you find yourself between sizes. (If blue isn’t your color, it comes in pink, too!)

Hyper-femme

If you’re ready to graduate to something even frillier and puffier, this UO May Smocked Puff Sleeve Cropped Top is for you! The large bow in the back enhances the incredibly feminine sweetheart neckline in the front. This top is available in sizes XS-XL, and features stretchy smocking at the waist and cuffs. Pair this with jeans to dress it down, or a skirt to dress it up! (Be sure to peek at the solid ivory and black floral versions as well!)

LBD

Puff sleeves are absolutely not exclusively made for pink, pastels, and florals. In fact, I think one could argue that they look most elegant in classic solid black. There are so many black puff-sleeved options, including this adorable UO Cassia Puff Sleeve Mini Dress. This piece also features an empire waist, flared hem, and ruched bust, all reminiscent of ‘90s grunge styles. It’s available in XS-XL, and has a smocked back-panel that allows for a bit of size flexibility.

Professional

Lots of festival-goers opt for the skimpiest garments as possible to beat the summer heat, but that doesn’t mean having to forgo fashion! If you’re so inclined, you can still sport a statement sleeve at music festivals this summer. I suggest throwing on a sheer puff-sleeved top, like Nasty Gal’s Sheer As Hell Organza Puff Top, over a cute bralette. Pair it with high-waisted shorts and a trendy belt bag. This top is available in sizes 0-10, and is currently 60% off!

Dressy

You’ll be sure to stand out in the ASOS Design Bias Midi Dress With Puff Sleeves In Satin Tropical Print—it’s the perfect dress for that special occasion you’re anticipating this summer. Its crew neckline and puff sleeves are sophisticated, while the millennial pink and tropical print will keep you looking young and fresh. This dress is available in sizes 0-14—but act soon, because it’s selling fast!

Festival

If you’re dying to breathe a little vintage princess fantasy into your corporate style, look no further than the Unique Vintage Colvin Blouse, available in several colors and prints! The Colvin Blouse features a winged collar and vertical pleating in the front, and its stunning puff sleeves feature self-tie cuffs with a keyhole detail. This blouse is made in straight sizes from XS-XL, and plus sizes from 1X-5X! Pair it with a professional pair of slacks or a pencil skirt.

Transitional

You don’t have to ditch regal sleeves when summer starts to wind down! When we transition into autumn, stock up on tartan-printed-puffs like this Neon Rose Maxi Tea Dress With Puff Sleeves In Bold Check. This dress totally radiates back-to-school vibes. It’s lightweight, drapey, and available through ASOS in sizes XS-XL. Dress it down with sneakers, or dress it up with a nude pair of flats or heels.