Forget posing like Wonder Woman if you want to feel confident at work. There’s another trick up your sleeve you should be using, or, rather, it is the sleeve itself.
Seen all over the 2020 Golden Globes red carpet (on Cate Blanchett, Olivia Coleman, Zoey Deutsch and most notably Beyonce) and in offices across America is the puffy sleeve. Never have we seen this much circumference around an arm since a tea party in the 1830s.
Though a puffy sleeve can be a bit over the top, the silhouette it produces is not only elegant but also evokes power. Erin Walsh, the stylist who dressed Toni Collette in the look for the Globes told The Wall Street Journal, “At this moment in time, women want this silhouette that is both empowering and feminine.”
The puff sleeve was seen all over the 2019 runways at Kate Spade and Marc Jacobs as well.
Everything old is new again
The puff sleeve is nothing new. Emerging during the Renaissance, by both men and women, and then really coming into its heyday during the 1890s. They were designed to help women embellish their hourglass figures. Since then it has pretty much made a comeback during every decade (it was big on the prairie, big in the 1980s and now we see it again) so there must be something very compelling about it. Hey, even Jerry Seinfeld infamously gave into the trend.
A ball gown with puffy sleeves isn’t practical for the office but if you pair a puffy-sleeved blouse with a high-waisted, wide-legged pair of pants or a leather button-front midi skirt. it will create a resplendent balance. But to pull this off, the sleeve can’t do all of it. The confidence has to come from the person.
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Eva Galambos, the director, and buyer of luxury Sydney fashion boutique Parlour X, told The Sydney Morning Herald, “I’ve always loved the drama and femininity of a puffy sleeve,” she says. “It’s definitely not everyone’s aesthetic but it is and always will be one of my personal favorite silhouettes. Brands like Dice Kayek, Rosie Assoulin, Isabel Marant and [from] time to time Fendi or Chloe may also feature an exaggerated sleeve.” She continued, “The puffy sleeve has been referenced through American prairie or ’70s looks before; some may feel it’s too youthful or girlie, but one thing is for sure — it takes a confident woman to enjoy the statement.”
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The puffy sleeve trend follows last year’s embellished high-collared comeback reminiscent of the days of Queen Elizabeth. Why is there this movement to sartorial adoptions of not only 10 years ago but literally hundreds of years ago when your clothes were literally used as armor? Well, dressing for the red carpet always needs a layer of drama but perhaps it does in corporate America too. Except for the micro-bag trend, many of the biggest fashion moments of the last decade and especially the last few years have really been about big, over the top aesthetics? Big bows, high collars, puffy dresses, platform sneakers, etc.,
In other words, fashion wants you to take up space and spread out whether it be with an impactful hairpiece or an eye-catching sleeve.