Like it or not, the 80s are back in fashion…in a BIG way. One of the most popular takes is the puff sleeve, a kind of throwback to the sculpted shoulders of the infamous decade of excess. But they’re actually surprisingly chic and easy to pull off — if you know what you’re doing.
Emanuel Ungaro Spring 2018, Carolina Herrera Spring 2018, Anrealage Spring 2018; Images: Imaxtree
Puff sleeves first starting popping up on the Spring 2018 runways. Emanuel Ungaro added them on everything from wedding dresses to a shiny tee layered under a floral patterned jumpsuit. Carolina Herrera relied on the puff sleeve to amp up red carpet gowns and work-ready blouses. They don’t get more voluminous than the ones at Anrealage. Exaggerated sleeves decorated a large portion of looks from dresses to jumpsuits.
Gucci Fall 2018, Ulla Johnson Fall 2018, Halpern Fall 2018; Images: Imaxtree
And things didn’t deflate for Fall 2018. Perhaps no brand personifies the OTT 80s like Gucci. While “accessories” like a baby dragon and human heads stole the spotlight at the brand’s Fall 2018 show, strong shoulders were well-represented, including the puffy variety. Although Ulla Johnson has become synonymous with prairie dresses, the designer also loves puffed-up shoulders. She even incorporated the eye-catching detail on a denim one-piece. Halpern’s glitzy offering was full of color and shimmer with a few puff sleeves thrown in for good measure.
Puff-sleeve blouses have become pretty popular street style fare; Images: Imaxtree
While these larger-than-life silhouettes look great on the runway, they can be tricky to translate to your wardrobe. Street stylists usually prefer to balance out their puff-sleeve blouses with denim, whether the jeans be cropped, cuffed or white. Add in a statement bag and pointed-toe footwear to draw attention elsewhere.
Puff-sleeve tops are the easiest way to try out the trend since they’re more versatile than the dress or jumpsuit formats. Ready to turn up the volume? Take your pick of these 23 versions along with some helpful tips to make wearing them easy no matter your skill level.
Staud Jackie Top in Lilac Stone, $195 at Staud
Wear with shorts now and top off your favorite black jeans later.
Moon River Button-Down Top, $66 at Urban Outfitters
Team this retro-style top with cargos for a relaxed vibe.
Paper London Rose Top, $265 at Shopbop
Ease your way into the trend with this top and straight-leg jeans.
Tach Clothing Delmira Organza Top in Black, $122 at Lisa Says Gah
A ruched skirt is this organza top’s BFF.
Zara Contrasting Poplin Blouse, $45.90 at Zara
Make the puffiness more pronounced by pushing up your sleeves.
MSGM Floral-Print Cotton Top, $455 at Moda Operandi
Keep your white jeans in rotation after Labor Day by pairing them with this blooming blouse.
Edit Balloon Sleeve Crop Top, $190 at Shopbop
With exaggerated sleeves like these, the slimmer the pant, the better.
Mango Pleat Detail Blouse, $24.99 at Mango
We love the idea of dark jeans with wide cuffs with this citrusy blouse.
Petersyn Alexis Puff-Sleeve Top, $191.25 at Bloomingdale’s
The shapely sleeves on this patterned piece are best complemented by distressed jeans.
Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini Puff Shoulders Wool Blend Sweater, $425 at Luisa Via Roma
It’ll be sweater weather before you know it. This cozy knit works well with plaid trousers.
Topshop Tafetta Puff Sleeve Top, $65 at Topshop
Hold on to summer a little longer by combining your denim shorts or miniskirt with this taffeta topper.
Rejina Pyo Maddie Puff Sleeve Blouse, $155 at Farfetch
If you work in a more creative office environment, add this fiery blouse and a pencil skirt into your work wardrobe.
A.L.C. Baker Striped Puff-Sleeve Turtleneck Sweater, $365 at Neiman Marcus
Feeling bold? Team this turtleneck with side striped jeans.
Oh Hey Girl Puffy Sleeve Corset Style Blouse, $83.57 at Oh Hey Girl
Go wild by styling this super structured top with a zebra printed skirt.
Olivia Rose The Label The Esmeralda Top in Pink, $154.23 at Olivia Rose The Label
Faded blue jeans FTW.
Monse Striped Balloon Sleeve Blouse, $595 at mytheresa.com
Gray jeans are becoming popular and they’ll pair extremely well with this striped stunner.
Ganni Lagarde Silk Blouse, $340 at Ganni
Since the blouse has a little sparkle, stick with cropped trousers in a muted hue.
Isabel Marant Maya Puff-Sleeved Top, $328 at Matches Fashion
Use your skinny jeans with this top, if you’ve still got ’em.
Beaufille Estela Puff Sleeve Blouse, $207.99 at Need Supply Co.
Sleek colored slacks or denim will help offset this stark white blouse.
Toit Volant Lilly Rose Top in Yellow, $159 at Need Supply Co.
A solid color maxi skirt will keep things breezy till summer wraps up. Black jeans will make this top pop in fall.