Image of puff sleeve top

Puff sleeve tops: 4 ways to wear the statement style this summer (and 12 to buy right now)

Posted by for Fashion

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

Purple puff sleeve top street style

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.

  • Staud

    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.

    Shop Staud peplum-hem cotton-blend top, £200

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.

All white

White puff sleeve top street style

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. 

  • Solace London

    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.

    Shop Solace London Carlenne top, £220

  • Finery

    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. 

    Shop Mabel puff t-shirt, £39

Back to black

Black puff sleeve top

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.

Sign up for our essential edit of what to buy, see, read and do, and also receive our 11-page Ultimate Guide To Making Your Home Feel Bigger.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: Getty and courtesy of brands. 

Share this article

Recommended by Lara Faye