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Puff Sleeve Wedding Dresses – A Guide on How to Rock the Look

Bride wearing puffed-sleeves wedding dress

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While strapless wedding dresses are easily the most popular wedding dress style, one style that has become popular lately is the puff sleeve wedding dress. The puff sleeve wedding dress trend has cycled in and out of fashion in the last few decades, but it’s back and more stylish than ever.

If you want to make a fashion statement and a lasting impression on your big day, a trendy puff sleeve wedding dress might just be the thing for you! Here’s a guide on how to rock the puff sleeve wedding dress style without looking dated.

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The History of the ‘Sleeve’

Bride wearing ruched sleeve dress

Vintage wedding dress with puffed sleeves from the 1940s. By Mirandas Bridal.

See this dress HERE

Puffed sleeves first emerged during the Renaissance period and since then it has gone in and out of fashion, its popularity diminishing and then resurging in the early 1900s.

In the ‘80s, puffed sleeves returned with a bang and was a huge favorite of celebrities like Alexis Carrington and Kylie Minogue. However, it seems the original fan of the statement sleeve was the late Princess Diana who donned many variations of it during her time.

Princess Diana in her wedding dress

Princess Diana in her stunning antique wedding dress


She was the Queen of the puffed sleeve wedding dress, wearing an antique, ivory silk taffeta lace gown with gigantic sleeves on her wedding day. Her dress became one of the most famous of all time, setting wedding fashion trends and soon brides everywhere were opting for wedding dresses with large puffed sleeves, soft fabrics and a full skirt.

Over the years, puffed sleeves were and are still considered a symbol of femininity. Contemporary puff sleeve styles have emerged more flirty, fashionable and flattering than ever before.

Types of Puffed Sleeves

Puff sleeves come in all sizes and shapes but when it comes to styles there are sleeves with fullness either at the top, the bottom or both.  The sleeves can be of short length or full length and gathered at the top of the bottom.

The Regular Puff Sleeve

Bride wearing regular puff sleeve wedding dress

Puff sleeve wedding gown by Luxie Vintage. See it HERE.

This sleeve has a puff look which comes by gathering the ends with sleeve bands, elastic ribbons, elastic enclosed casings or drawstrings. The length of the sleeve is typically above the elbow. This look is ideal if you want a vintage look without going overboard with the sleeves.

Balloon Sleeves

Bride with balloon sleeves wedding dress

Wedding dress with balloon sleeves by Roselein Rarities. See it HERE.

Balloon sleeves look good on any kind of dress, be it a fishtail, ball gown, A-line or column dress. While balloon sleeve wedding dresses can look outdated, it can be perfect for a vintage vibe.

Gigot Sleeves

Gigot sleeve dress

Gigot sleeve antique dress by Daisy and Stella. See it HERE.

This was a highly popular sleeve in the 1800s. The purpose of this sleeve was to help the wearer achieve an hourglass figure that was very much in fashion, as it tends to accentuate the waist. If you are planning on a dress with a full skirt like a ball gown dress or a mermaid style dress, then this is not the sleeve for you! If you want to have gigot sleeves, then try an A-line dress which works well with this kind of sleeve or even a column dress.

Detachable Puff Sleeves

Bride wearing detachable puff sleeves with her wedding dress

Detachable puff sleeve by Bridal Separates. See it HERE.

If you want the puff sleeve look, without having to commit, try opting for a detachable puff sleeve. The most popular types of wedding dresses that can be worn with detachable sleeves are mermaid and ball gown dresses, but they can work well with almost any silhouette. All types of puff sleeves can be worn as detachable sleeves of any length and give an elegant touch to your wedding look. When you’re done at the ceremony, simply take them off and you’ve got a completely different looking dress.

Choosing the Right Dress For You

There are several types of puffed sleeve dress to choose from, depending on your taste. If you prefer a casual and light option, and if you’re planning to have a vintage wedding theme, then a traditional puff sleeve dress might be the right choice for you. It’s all about finding the right wedding dress style for your body shape.

  • Triangle Shaped Body Type
Amazing Blush Mermaid Glitter Bridal Dress Balloon image 3

Balloon sleeves in modern wedding dress by Stylish Bride Accessories. See it HERE.

If you have a pear-shaped body, then your hips are probably wider than your shoulders and you’re smaller on the top than you are on the bottom. In this case, a fit and flare wedding dress with full length sleeves might be the best option for you since these hide the problem areas in the bottom half and the long sleeves can draw attention to the upper body. The goal here is to balance out your body shape and to accentuate your top half. 

Apple Shaped Body Type

If you’re apple shaped, this means your waist is less defined and you’re fuller around the middle. In this case, try opt for a gown that will define your waist. However, you might need to think twice about choosing a dress with puff sleeves since they can exaggerate your shoulders and upper body, giving you a ‘wider’ look.

Inverted Triangle Shaped Body Type

Bride wearing balloon-sleeves wedding dress

Detachable sleeves by Alex Veil Bridal. See it HERE.

People with this body shape generally have a larger upper body with broader shoulders, a large bust and narrow hips. If this is you, then your best option would be an A-line or a ball gown. These dresses flatter inverted triangle shaped bodies. It might be a good idea to avoid puff sleeves to minimize attention drawn to the upper part of the body. However, if you feel like you simply cannot do without them, a great choice would be to opt for a classical style ball wedding gown with a sweetheart corset and detachable balloon sleeves.

Rectangle Shape Body Type

Bride wearing lace ruffle sleeve wedding dress

Vintage lace wedding gown with sleeves by Dark Vintage Nest. See it HERE.

If you have a rectangle body shape with well-proportioned small hips, shoulders and no defined waist, then you’re in luck! Almost any type of dress and puff sleeve suits this type of body shape and you will find plenty of interesting styles to choose from. You can try a sheer dress with long puff sleeves to pull off a 70’s vintage look as in the example dress above.

Hourglass Shape

Women with an hourglass figure have hips that are in proportion to the shoulders with a small, well-defined waist resembling the shape of an hourglass. Women with this shape have equal width at both the top and bottom of their body. This is one of the most coveted and envied body shapes and just about any dress will match well with this figure. If you have an hourglass figure, a mermaid style wedding dress with small puff sleeves would greatly accentuate your curves.

Best Fabrics for Puff Sleeve Wedding Dresses

The foundation to an exquisite wedding dress is the fabric. The type and of fabric for different styles of wedding dresses must be chosen carefully because different types of fabrics have contrasting textures. The texture of the fabric has to be ideal to gather at the sleeves or waist, to create a shimmering or flowing appearance and to emphasize your strong points or conceal the problem areas. However, not all fabrics are ideal for puff sleeve wedding dresses. The most popular types of fabric for puff sleeves are:

  • Satin

This is one of the most common, versatile and durable fabrics for wedding dresses. Satin is the perfect material for structured gowns because it is supportive and works well with all body types. It holds the shape of puffed sleeves well so it is commonly used for puff sleeved wedding dresses.

  • Chiffon

Chiffon is an extremely sheer, light weight and light woven fabric. Since it is so sheer, wedding dressmakers often use it in layers or as an overlay for a more significant fabric. Chiffon is delicate and has a very weightless and floaty look and is mostly used to sew full length puff sleeves. However, it does have the tendency to snag and fray easily so you might want to be careful if you’re having your dress made from this material.

  • Charmeuse

A light, rich fabric with a glossy sheen and elegant drape, charmeuse is a popular fabric for wedding dresses and is often made of silk or synthetic fibers. It is considered a ‘luxurious’ fabric and has a lovely ‘liquid’ effect which makes it slinky and figure hugging but the cons of this fabric is that it shows every flaw. Puff sleeves made with charmeuse don’t have a lot of structure but have a beautiful flowy feel.  

  • Tulle

Tulle is quite stiff and can easily be used for puff sleeves since it holds the shape well. One of the most common fabrics used for wedding veils and ballerinas’ tutus, it’s a sheer fabric and looks like a netting. It is extremely delicate and snags easily on jewelry so if you’re having your dress made of tulle then it would be a good idea to be extra careful with your jewelry!

  • Organza

Organza is a very popular type of fabric for puff sleeves as its comfortable, breathable and maintains its structure. Like chiffon, organza is also a sheer and lightweight woven fabric made from silk but differs from chiffon in its stiffness. Unlike chiffon, organza is a more structured and simultaneously light and delicate fabric which is perfect for weddings taking place in warm weather.

  • Cotton

Although cotton is not commonly used for wedding dresses, it is a comfortable, versatile fabric that maintains the shape of the puff sleeves quite well. Also, cotton can be molded well into elegant knots and twirls that can create a beautiful, charming effect on your wedding dress. The softness of cotton can make it easier to drape and fit well on your curves, making the outfit very easy to move about in. It’s ideal for a boho chic wedding dress, like this gorgeous dress

Wrapping Up…

Puff sleeves are a top trend right now, so if you like keeping up with the times, this is one trend you won’t want to miss out. Puff sleeves look elegant and stylish and very feminine. If you can’t find the puff sleeve wedding dress of your dreams, we suggest opting for detachable sleeves that’ll add more versatility to your dress and look.