Bigger Isn't Always Better, But With This Trend, It's Absolutely the Case

Most trends start life as just that: trends. By definition, a trend is a development or change, and as such, we expect trends to do the same: evolve into something else, or in some instances, veer off entirely. However, some trends prove themselves to be more than fleeting. Some have staying power. And the puff-sleeve trend is one such example of a look that's had a longer shelf life than many of us expected it to.

The puff sleeve trend first cracked the fashion veneer in 2018, when '80s references raved the runway. We gladly bought into it, fully aware that it would likely be replaced by another detail of note the following year, no matter how pretty it is. Fast-forward to 2021, however, and the supersize sleeve is still just as popular as ever.


(Image credit: @monikh)

"Exaggerated puff sleeves is a silhouette that has dominated in recent years, and is set to continue and become even more prominent in 2021," explains our editor Emma Spedding in our bumper spring/summer 2021 trend report. "From dresses with huge ballooned shoulders at Loewe to trench coats with gathered sleeves at Altuzarra, get ready for even more shoulder action this year."

Oh, we're ready. With spring on the fast approach, Bridgerton (aka cap puff sleeve porn) fever still raging, and the cottagecore movement gaining more traction than ever, the puff sleeve trend is precisely what our wardrobes we need going into the new season: a little romanticism. Scroll below to see some standout puff-sleeve looks, then shop our favourite puff-sleeve buys.



(Image credit: @thandimaq)

Thandi's spliced puff sleeves in blue satin are simply divine. 


(Image credit: @aimeesong)

Puff sleeves look even more dramatic when they involve a statement print. 


(Image credit: @betinalooney)

One of the most impressive puff sleeves we've seen. 


(Image credit: @emilisindlev)

Clever Emili creates a gorgeous colour clash with her green puff sleeve-dress and pink chair. Instagram 101. 


(Image credit: @fiahamelijnck)

One of the chicest and easiest ways to wear the puff-sleeve trend is by way of a white shirt or blouse tucked into jeans. 


(Image credit: @greceghanem)

We love the proportions of Grece's oversized puff-sleeve dress. 


(Image credit: @slipintostyle)

Rounded puff sleeves make for an even more statement silhouette. 


Next Up: The Under-£100 High-Street Buys That I Love This Month

Maxine Eggenberger
Deputy Editor

Maxine Eggenberger is Who What Wear UK’s deputy editor and has over thirteen years of experience in fashion journalism. She been creating engaging and elevated style content specifically for Who What Wear UK since 2018, covering runway reports, emerging trends, long-form features, self-styled shopping stories and columns, including her edit of the best new-in buys. She ensures the highest editorial standards are met across the site, leads the editorial team in their SEO strategy and keyword planning, works closely with the beauty team on content initiatives, represents the brand at industry events, and regularly contributes to social media, including her own Who What Wear UK TikTok franchise, French Style Fridays. Previously, Maxine appeared on ITV's This Morning in her own fashion segment and has interviewed countless celebrities—everyone from Victoria Beckham to Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.

Prior to Who What Wear UK, Maxine’s career began when, after completing her first-ever internship at Look magazine, she was offered a position on the brand's fashion desk. She accepted, leaving university a year early in the process. Her passion and natural talent for writing and styling meant she swiftly rose through the ranks to become the title's fashion news and commercial content editor, with a stint as’s fashion and beauty writer along the way. She later served as Look’s acting Editor in Chief, overseeing both print and digital, before embarking on a successful freelance career, working with Grazia, The Pool, and Marie Claire amongst others.

Maxine is based remotely from her countryside home near Edinburgh where she spends her downtime renovating her house, walking her dogs, hosting friends and trying to master the art of making Old Fashioned cocktails.