It’s the little details that really make an outfit. It could be the right belt, the perfect shoe, matching bag or…stylish sleeves? Accessorizing is important, but sometimes more is just more and you want the detail of an accessorized outfit without having to add something extra. While I’m not about to get rid of my statement necklaces, it’s time to introduce…the statement sleeve.
Yes, that’s right, sleeves. Just before Christmas I popped into the Hoboken Anthropologie and the sales woman at the cash register had on a funky balloon sleeved sweater (currently on sale!) with a mock turtleneck. I loved the unique silhouette it gave the outfit and she mentioned it was a really popular item too. Statement sleeves have been making appearances on cozy sweaters all through winter, especially bell sleeves, balloon sleeves and off the shoulder styles, and are a great way to add interest to an outfit without adding another layer. Now, stores are starting to put out their spring collections and statement sleeves are here to stay.
So what are statement sleeves? Any sleeve that’s not simply straight has a term for the specific cut. For example, bell sleeves are kind of like flared jeans for your arms and a balloon or bishop sleeve is a wide sleeve that gathers at the wrist in a cuff, etc. Most cuts are not uncommon and can be versatile when subtle, but they wouldn’t be a trend if they were subtle. Big sleeves with huge ruffles, wide flares or extra-lengths decorated the Spring/Summer 2017 runways and might be fun for going out or dressing up, but they can also work for an every day look when dressed down.
The most ridiculous runway sleeve trend was extra long sleeves that extended past the models’ hands. While this trend may end up fleeting, there are a few ways to make it work that I actually quite like. Extended sleeves looks best on button down shirts where the cuff of the sleeve is just an inch or two longer so they end at the middle of the hand. It might sound strange but it looks really cute layered under a leather jacket or blazer so the sleeves stick out. You can unbutton them to give the look a bit of flare and regain some use of your hands. It’s a similar effect to cuffing your shirt over your sweater but without freezing your wrists off.
Balloon sleeves look and sounds like a ton of fun, and so long as they aren’t ballooning into next week, they can be made into a more casual look. Because shirts with this sleeve cut tend to be top heavy, a casual outfit should balance them out with slimmer bottoms. Jeans can be used to tone down most anything, but a slim or cropped trouser would work too. Bell sleeves behave similarly but with the option to match the flare of the sleeve with that of a flared jean or skirt for a real 70s throwback.
Statement sleeves are great because they can be part of a two-piece outfit (simple top and bottoms) and still have the impact of a thought out, well-matched look. Of course, sometimes you just got to go the extra mile. Statement sleeves stand out even more poking out from under another layer. For a breezy spring look, an off-the-shoulder or balloon sleeve cotton shirt looks cute under overalls with a wedge sandal. Until the weather gets warmer, you could achieve a similar look with a statement top under a sleeveless sweater or vest.
Some of my favorite looks have included statement sleeves on a light blue, pinstripe button down with slim, tomato red trousers for a preppy look, or large flared sleeves in a solid color that poke out from a rolled up blazer over jeans. I also love the three-tiered ruffle sleeve for a date night or an extra-long off the shoulder top with cropped bottoms. Whichever way you style it, make your next fashion statement with your sleeves!