Jackets that are gathered or pleated on the crown of the sleeve at the shoulder point are a fringe trend. This style of jacket was popular almost a decade ago, in long and short sleeve versions. The short sleeved styles looked extra puffy because of the rounder shape of the sleeve. Versions with gathers on the crown of the sleeve were also quite popular in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
Puff sleeve jackets look especially good on narrow shoulders and pear shaped ladies because the volume of the puff extends the line of the shoulder, thereby creating visual balance between the top and bottom parts of the body. If the shoulder seams are set in closer towards the neck, then the style can work for broader shoulders because the shoulder merely fills out the puff section of the sleeve.
Most styles of puff sleeve are thought of as stereotypically girly and pretty. They can also be perceived as more playful and less strict than a regular modern classic blazer with sleek set-in sleeves. To some this adds up to a style that is overly juvenile, twee, precious and frilly.
My clients run the gamut on the puff sleeve blazer. Some love the silhouette because it looks more creative, arty, interesting, feminine and whimsical than a plain, masculine blazer. Some love how the style extends their narrow shoulder line. And others stay away from the style because they don’t think of it as a chic and sophisticated look for a grown-up. Too childlike and the absolute opposite of tough.
I’m a yay for this trend but have strong opinions about the versions I think look best and would fit into my style. I much prefer the visual effect of the pleated crown as opposed to the gathered crown because the former is more architectural, subtle and less frilly. The length of the sleeves must be long so that they don’t create a “ball on your bicep”. Furthermore, the lapels must be narrow and the stance low for a modern effect. I love the light blue Zara and red J.Crew versions below and would absolutely wear them. They appeal to my narrow shoulders and activate my pretty gene (I bat for Team Pretty and not Team Tough). What’s your verdict on the puff sleeve jacket?