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The vintage trend of this week’s column are the puff sleeves. This exaggerated trend messes up with all the proportions of classic fashion.

 This trend has very old origins, it dates back to the Middle Age and in its early days the sleeves could be removed and placed on different dresses. Their width varied according to social class: the larger, the richer. This sleeves were popular all through the Renaissance, then their popularity faded only to come back several times: at the beginning of the 19th century, in the first years of the 20th and in the 30s.

At that time, to keep the puff in shape people used pads and frames that made it difficult to move the arms and even to pass through doors. For this reason, they were mostly worn by wealthy people as they made it difficult to do any other activity than to conversate.

During the 80s puff sleeves became popular on both formal and sportive clothes.

How not to remember Lady D’s iconic wedding dress? All lace and trims with tight corset and puff sleeves: it embodied the new romanticism in trend those days. By the end of the crazy Eighties rouches, fringes and puff sleeves reached their peak of excess and theatricality.

After that, the trend faded but as fashion historian Valerie Steele said:

“Fashion is like a pendulum, after swinging in a direction, it is sure to come back the opposite way.”

And so it was. Puff sleeves are back in style!

 Saint Laurent paid a tribute on the catwalk in the Fall/Winter 18/19 season and so did Alberta Ferretti, Alexander McQueen and many more.

 It Girls add to the game creating incredible street-style looks.

But why are they popular?

Despite their bulky look, puffed shoulders bring balance to the body proportions of people with small shoulders and spindly arms.

They are also perfect to mask slightly fuller arms.

Puff sleeves are a good combination for bold fabrics like lurex, shimmery fabrics and tulle. Choose a shade of gold or silver for a contemporary, festive mood.

 A “too much” style is an irresistible choice if you want a look that doesn’t go unnoticed.

The advice here is to dare! Go for it! With dresses, tops, bloused and jackets: may be the sleeves be big, enormous, explosive!


A warm hug,

Silvia Albanese

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