Stuck in a style rut? Put the joy back in getting dressed with the statement-making puff sleeve top that’s making waves in every style setter’s wardrobe.
Do you get dressed on autopilot? While sticking to an everyday uniform might have sped up our morning routine (or made getting dressed in lockdown possible), this dress-by-rote approach has taken all the joy and creativity out of dressing. If you’re ready to rip up the rule book and say goodbye to style formulas then rejoice, because new season style is here, and it’s all about going all out with colour, print and exaggerated silhouettes.
From vibrant floral print dresses to colourful cardigans, sculptural handbags to oversized totes, this spring is all about experimenting with bold pieces and playing with your personal style. While all of these pieces sound like the perfect additions to our new season wardrobe, we’re left wondering how sustainable (and affordable) during the current climate building a whole new spring wardrobe might be. If only there was one style that offered enough interest to act as a complete style overhaul in a single piece? We prayed and the gods of fashion answered, blessing us with the puff sleeve top.
Thanks to its exaggerated puff (or balloon) sleeves this playful style means you can stay casual from the waist down, perfect for video calls, and still look like you’ve gone all out. In other words, it’s an ideal style for those who are ready to experiment with a bolder look but don’t want to spend hours building an outfit in their bedroom mirror.
From colour-pop brights and summer-ready checks, to monochrome black and crisp white styles, we’ve curated an edit of the best puff-sleeve tops to wear now, along with tips on how to wear the statement sleeve.
Bold and bright
If you’re already a seasoned lover of colour and print, then by all means, find the loudest pieces and clash them to perfection. For the rest of us, the best way to make bolder pieces work for you is to pair them with failsafe wardrobe basics. Enter the classic ‘jeans and a nice top’ approach. The outfit equation that hasn’t let us down since the 90s: style your statement sleeve top with blue denim for an everyday look that’s anything but ordinary.
Sandro’s bold blue cotton and linen blend shirt is the perfect summer top. This light wight and punchy coloured top is a match for any heatwave.
Juxtaposing Western and utilitarian influences, this Symonds Pearmain shirt is a maximalist dream. The bold colour, ruffled neck, slender ties and cropped balloon sleeves will certainly make you stand out from the crowd.
We asked for statement-making colour and Staud delivered in spades. The sustainable label seen on Meghan Markle might be best known for its bags but stand-out pieces like this turquoise top prove there’s a lot more to the California based label than just accessories. Not ready to dive in at the brightest end of the colour spectrum? This puffed long sleeve top is also available in neutral shades of white, black and navy.
Prints and patterns
With spring comes prints aplenty. While there’s always a special place in our hearts for polka dots and florals, this season checks are making a strong case for inclusion in our wardrobes too. Make like stylist and creative consultant Thora Valdimars and take your top into evening with a little help from a pair of high-waisted jeans and brightly coloured heels.
A classic heritage check suddenly feels fresh when paired with puff balloon sleeves and a loosely tied waist. Take yours into the (virtual) office with a pair of wide-legged trousers or chic leather shorts in a complimentary shade of khaki.
Isabel Marant Etoile
Give your summer warbdrobe some French flair with this blouse from Isabel Marant Etoile. With the brands intricate florals and feminine silhouette, this blouse is ready to pair up with leather skirts and high waisted denim.
A chic shade of bright white makes this exaggerated silhouette feel fresh and crisp. Take your cues from stylist Bettina Looney who opts for a subtle puff sleeve by New York brand, Sea. Mastered the jeans and top formula? Then it’s time to take your forays into experimental dressing one step further by layering your white top under a patterned dress for the kind of stand-out look that Instagram was made for.
Mango’s white textured top looks just as good layered under a pastel dress as it does with white jeans and colourful jewellery.
Business at the front, party at the back. This Solace London top has a cut-out detail at the back that elevates it from basic white top to standout piece.
The puff sleeve doesn’t just have to sit close to you wrist. Although 3/4 and full length sleeves are seen more frequently, a little short sleeve t-shirt can have just the same impact on a relaxed outfit. Make yours work for day with the addition of white trainers or pair with a silky midi skirt for a textural and romantic evening look.
Back to black
Still not ready to step out of your style comfort zone? Take it in baby steps by opting for a puff sleeve top in a perennially chic shade of black. For a minimalist take on the trend that is no less effective, follow Carola Pojer’s lead and style a black puff sleeve with an effortless midi skirt.
Inject a dose of instant cool into your new season wardrobe with a statement-making balloon sleeve in jet black. Wear yours with distressed denim, a basket bag and white ankle boots for a look that channels some serious laidback French girl cool. Bonus points if you add a tan trench draped from your shoulders.
When it comes to basics that are anything but basic, Topshop is running the game. The puff sleeves on this black top give a new season update to this wardrobe staple, making it the perfect piece to wear with statement-making accessories, such as the ugly dad trainers that have never been cooler.
3.1 Phillip Lim
Who said puff sleeves need to be dramatic? Master of cool 3.1 Phillip Lim’s puff sleeve top with zip detail is a delightful mix of minimal and utilitarian.
Images: Getty and courtesy of brands.