puffed sleeve sweatshirt the great

Making the Case for Ruffle and Puffed Sleeve Tops

After my army green pants post a few months back, I received a lot of client requests about what to wear with said pants. My favorite pairing is a ruffle or puffed sleeve top. But I’ve found there’s a lot of hesitation surrounding this style.  In fact, it was the text conversation with a long-time client that prompted me to write this post… I’ve included excerpts at the bottom of this post.

Why am I’m a huge fan of tops with ruffles and/or puffed sleeves? Well, a few reasons…

  1. The ruffles and puffs add a feminine flair that counterbalances the workwear (like manual work, not 9-5 work), vibe of the pants.
  2. Sleeve and shoulder details were all over the runways and it’s an easy way to add interest to an outfit and make it feel current
  3. A shoulder detail is much easier to wear than a bell sleeve detail. i.e. the puffed sleeve won’t get stuck in your soup when out for dinner.
  4. Adding ruffles or a puffed sleeve visually balances your top and bottom when wearing a slouchy or wider bottom pant.

It’s NOT Too Cute

Some women, especially the over 40 crowd, have expressed concern that the ruffle/ puffed sleeve look is just too cutesie. And they feel they’ve aged out of the look. Let me start by saying I LOVE when a woman is aware of age-appropriate dressing. It’s refreshing and the self-awareness is applauded. We’ve all seen the mom with the rocking bod swapping clothes with her teenage daughter, and frankly, it’s kind of uncomfortable for everyone. Just because you can wear it, does not mean you should… But I digress.

On the flip side, I encounter many women that unnecessarily age themselves with their clothing because they don’t want to look like that mom in the crop top and ripped jeans. A ruffled top is one of those pieces that can skew young or sophisticated and feminine depending on how you style it.

Ruffle Tops Looking Too Young

IMHO if you’re over 25 and not a Kardashian or Hadid you’ve probably aged out if these looks.

Ruffle Tops Looking Feminine and Sophisticated

These are examples of how to pull off the ruffle trend and look chic for work, going out or just running around town. If you’re 25 or 85 you can make these looks your own.

Styling Tips to Make Ruffles and Puffed Sleeve Tops Work

  1. These tops look amazing with jeans, slacks, skirts and under overalls too.
  2. If you’re bustier look for a top that has buttons or a v neck and is a silk/rayon blend so it is not stiff.
  3. Make sure to tuck or half tuck the top in or have it hit at the waist, not the hips or it’ll look dowdy.

Puffed Sleeve Tops for the WIN.

A Real Text Conversation With a Client

WIth some long-standing clients, I’ll just place online orders for them and have the pieces sent to their house. It’s like the ultimate in personal shopping… I typically try to give them a few options in size and price knowing that things will be returned. And while it does make things easy and breezy, sometimes the client loses out on fabulous pieces because, without an explanation or a gentle push, human nature is to stay in your comfort zone…

I was trying to get this client to add a few ruffles or puffed sleeve tops to her repertoire…and this is what happened.

I had so much fun trying everything on. More fun than luck though now that I am in my “does it bring me joy phase.”Wink

I kept the AG pants, the AYR Linen shirt, and The Rails Marley shirt. I will send pictures so you can weigh in on sizing, and then how best to wear these three pieces.
Here’s the breakdown of what I thought:
1. Solene laced trimmed shirt I would have kept except for the price
2 Celie Blouse didn’t like the puff sleeve
3. BB Dakota didn’t like the ruffles
4. Montauk pant, not a fan of the fray
5. Splendid Beach Tee. loved the fabric and the cropped bottom but the sleeve was too ruffly for me
6. Flutter top, again not a big fan of ruffles.
Ok, it doesn’t look like it from this list but I had a blast looking at everything. Probably if you were here you could have talked me off the wall on some of my rejects.
So even though she didn’t keep the ruffle and puffed sleeve tops, I am pretty sure when we meet this season she’ll be ready to give it a try. The question is, are you?

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Photo: Maggie Boyle

Images via: 1 //2 // 3// 4// 5// 6 // 7// 8// 9//

Cleveland-based personal stylist and fashion blogger.


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