If you are a fervent fashion follower like me, then you know that extreme super sleeves have been trending since 2018 and at each of the recent 2020 fashion week shows.
This reminded me that in our pattern drafting archives, we feature how to draft several of these gems, like the Leg o’ Mutton, the Extended 2-piece, the Princess Puff Short Sleeve, the Darted & Extended Sleeve Cap, and several others like the petal, the bell, the bishop, the short puff and short flare. Click on the links to catch a preview of our newest sleeve lessons and how each sleeve is drafted.
HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF THE PUFF SLEEVE
If you follow my blog and social media channels then you know that I absolutely love fashion history, which is why I am always happy to provide insight and background whenever I can about a particular fashion trend, detail or event. In fact, my book, the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, Second Edition, is a treasure trove of info if you love reading about the history of our industry. I invite you to check it out.
History has taught us that fashion cycles come and go. Skirt hems rise and fall, pants go from skinny to full, silhouettes from fitted to sack, and frilly looks to androgynous.
Today’s fashion cycle is bringing back the ‘shoulder’. What better way to do it, other than with shoulder pads, is with the puff sleeve!
Thinking about how the puff sleeve and the broad shoulder gained popularity over time, I decided to explore it’s rise and fall throughout history, beginning in the Renaissance.
With the rise of culture, style, art and architecture developed during the Renaissance, the sleeve became a prominent fashion statement. Fun fact: did you know that dresses in the Renaissance consisted of detachable sleeves that were given by the groom to their new wife? And that sleeves were also be passed down from mother to daughter, aunt to niece, or even be rented?
Elizabethan Era 1558-1603
Inspired by the very stylish Queen Victoria, a variety of puffed sleeve styles dominated fashion during her reign and continued on and off, inspiring trend cycles for years to come.
Victorian Era 1837-1900
Typical of the middle 1890s was the puff and the ‘leg o’ mutton’ sleeve (named because it resembled a mutton leg). Dresses included tight bodices and back bustles.
Edwardian Era 1890 – 1914
The Edwardian era revolved around the ‘S’ curve, where corsets created an S-shaped female silhouette. This was a change from the Victorian hourglass figure, but with more lavish sleeves, as depicted below, which were interlined with layers of organza to help keep their shape.
1930s & 1940s
The 1930s saw a departure from the body-skimming silhouettes of the 20s. Gilbert Adrian, designer to the stars, brought back huge puff sleeves in the 30s and broad-shouldered suits for women in the 40s.
Fast forward to the 1980s when the shoulder once again took center stage. One of the best examples was Princess Diana’s famous wedding dress and its leg o’ mutton sleeves. And, in ‘88 when Lagerfeld (for Chanel’) created a new take on the puff sleeve by dropping the shoulder.
Decades worth of body conscious fashion would dominate before we would see the rebirth of the puff sleeve, however, this time in the form of Steampunk, which was basically a re-interpretation of Victorian fashion.
2018 – 2020
The latest sightings of puff sleeves to enter the fashion cycle began in 2018, and ever since designers have been flirting with them. However, this season they went full boar and they’ve been reimagined in some of the newest and most voluminous versions.
The timing is perfect, since no one has had this trend in their closet for decades. And so, it’s the perfect ‘bait’ to lure all fashionistas into the stores. Or, better yet, view our sleeve tutorials and make your own extreme-sleeved garment!
Come on…aren’t you sick and tired of living in your athleisurewear since the pandemic began?
Sign-up for our newsletter
Join our newsletter to receive updates on future blog posts, special deals, and new lessons. Also visit the main webpage to check out all of our video lessons.