I Can’t Get Enough of Puff-Sleeve Tops and Dresses—Here’s How to Wear Them

To be completely honest, I’m not typically one for extremely feminine dressing. In recent years, you’d more likely find me in a turtleneck sweater tucked into straight-leg jeans than a maxi dress and sandals. My style was one part neutrals-loving Scandi girl, another part androgynous vibes with boxy, all-dark everything. But once spring rolled around this year, I noticed I kept gravitating toward puff-sleeve tops and even shopping puff-sleeve dresses (arguably the least androgynous trend this year). But who could blame me? Maybe it’s all this time sheltering in place that has me in a dreamy mindset. I want pieces that make me feel romantic and whimsical, which is exactly what wearing a light puff-sleeve outfit creates for me.

Puff-sleeve tops and dresses are at their best when paired with ultra-feminine details, too: smocked bodices, gauzy fabrics, embroidery, crinkled linen, and crochet trims. Instead of feeling like I’m trapped in my small L.A. apartment with my boyfriend, I put on a dress with organza puff-sleeves, and suddenly, I feel like Rapunzel, patiently waiting for my hair to get long enough so I can save myself from isolation. (Clearly, I haven’t had a haircut in a while either…) I know I’m not the only one here with an imagination going into overdrive, so I shopped seven outfits featuring puff-sleeve tops and dresses so you, too, can feel like the princess of your wildest dreams while spending the summer (socially distanced, of course).

Pairing a crisp, white puff-sleeve top with a pair of denim shorts creates the most effortless summer look that’s easy to build upon. Add cute, colorful accessories, like these purple mules and statement cherry earrings for a sweet spin. The best part of an outfit like this is you can swap in colors and textures to suit your own style. Just remember, the bigger the puff, the dreamier you’ll feel.
Long puff sleeves are the answer to a boring day. Add on pretty cuffs and a smocked bodice, and you have the only dress you need this year. Complete the look with layered gold necklaces, a straw hat, and heeled sandals. I dare you not to dance around your home in a dress like this one.
A wraparound top reveals the neckline in such a pretty way, so be sure to tie your hair back and cover yourself in delicate jewelry like Katherine Ormerod does here. I also love how she concentrates all the volume in her outfit at the sleeves by tucking her top into her shorts.
Both two-piece sets and gingham have been having a moment this year, so why not combine the two trends into a perfect outfit like this one? Speaking of trends, don’t skip the bucket hat. I personally would complete this look with all-white classic Vans. (FYI: This gingham set is on sale over at Saks.)
I’m kind of obsessed with all of Farm Rio’s embroidered shirts, and I love the idea of letting them shine next to a pair of white jeans. Complement the embroidery with pops of colorful accessories and you have a look you’ll want to revisit all summer.
There’s something about a button-down belted dress that works for all occasions. Perhaps it’s that it’s sensible enough for professional and familial occasions, but also fun enough that you’ll want to wear it out with friends, too. You’re bound to impress your coworkers on a Zoom call in this outfit.
Lastly, this polished look that will actually make you miss feeling like an adult and going to the office. Open-back leather loafers elevate a minidress outfit while still allowing you to feel like it’s summer. I’m convinced puff sleeves were made for babydoll silhouettes like this one.

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