Photo: Bella Oklahoma City/Amanda Hitchen
Puff sleeve wedding dresses have been an on-again-off-again wedding dress trend for brides worldwide for centuries. But in the 1980s, they had a major resurgence, particularly with some of the world’s most famous princesses.
In real life, Princess Diana famously wore a puff sleeve gown at her royal wedding to Prince Charles in 1981.
On the big screen, Disney mermaid-turned-princess Ariel wore one when she married Prince Eric in 1989.
Today, in 2022, puff sleeve dresses are back in a big way, and they’re not just for princesses anymore.
You'll want to read this if you’re thinking about rocking a puff sleeve wedding dress on your big day. Here’s how to style a puff sleeve gown for a memorable, romantic 21st-century wedding.
Puff Sleeve Wedding Gowns: Which Style to Choose?
Photo: Bella Sacramento/Apollo Fotographie featuring Jenny Yoo’s Lena in Petal
Unlike the Renaissance, Victorian, and Edwardian eras, modern brides have many options when choosing a puff sleeve gown. That’s because puff sleeve dresses can take on many different forms.
Puffy sleeves come in different degrees of, well … puffiness.
They can be long sleeve, short sleeve, or cap sleeve. Puffy sleeves can be subtle or voluminous. Or, they can be balloon sleeves, billowing blouson sleeves, or detachable sleeves.
Whether you want a lot of puff or just a hint of volume, 21st-century brides have endless options that can evoke many different aesthetics.
The Fairytale Princess Look
A puff sleeve organza, satin, or tulle ball gown is perfect if you’re going for a fairytale princess kind of vibe. Whether you choose a plunging deep V-neck or a modest high neckline, a ball gown with puffed sleeves will launch you to instant princess status.
The Vintage Edwardian Vibe
Edwardian Era fashion (think Titanic and Downton Abbey) was all about the puff sleeve craze. From corseted gowns to empire waist silhouettes, there are many wedding dresses to choose from for an Edwardian-inspired wedding day look.
The Boho Wedding Style
Are you having a casual beach wedding or getting married beneath twinkle lights in the woods? Then, an A-line dress with an open back and billowy long sleeves will make you one gorgeous boho bride!
The Cottagecore Bridal Look
Short puff sleeves are a must for the bride who loves all things cottagecore! A short wedding dress, midi dress, or tea-length design with puffed sleeves is the perfect way to transform yourself into a picture-perfect cottagecore bride.
Read: 5 Ideas for a Cottagecore Wedding in 2022
Choosing the Right Accessories for a Puff Sleeve Wedding Dress
Photo: Bella Chicago/One July Photo featuring Amsale’s Sinead dresses in Black
If you want your puffy sleeves to get all the attention they deserve, consider them when deciding how to style your overall look. For example, ensure the earrings, necklace, veil, and hairstyle you choose don't distract from those incredible sleeves!
The puffier and more dramatic the dress, the better it is to opt for smaller, simpler earrings. Depending on the neckline of your gown, you may not even need to wear a necklace. Instead of a veil, consider wearing a fabulous hair accessory.
Speaking of hair, it’s always a good idea to do a hair trial to find the ideal ‘do to go with your dress and help you achieve your perfect wedding vibe.
Here are some ways you can wear your hair with different puffy sleeve dresses:
If you coordinate all the little details of your entire look, you’ll be the most beautiful bride ever, no matter what dress you choose!
Pick Bridesmaid Dresses That Complement Your Puff Sleeve Dress
Shopping for bridesmaid dresses is one of the most fun parts of wedding planning. But before you head to your local Bella boutique, keep this tip in mind:
Your bridesmaids only need to complement you, so don’t feel like they also need puffy sleeves to match your look. They don’t.
Here are some stunning bridesmaid dresses to match your look without stealing any of your puffy thunder:
Jenny Yoo Elsie Bridesmaid Dress
The Jenny Yoo Elsie Bridesmaid Dress boasts a full skirt in a floor length with a front slit and an off-the-shoulder neckline. Short flutter sleeves evoke the spirit of puffy sleeves without being puffy at all.
Bill Levkoff 1704 Bridesmaid Dress
Spaghetti straps and a wrap bodice make the Bill Levkoff 1704 Bridesmaid Dress a flattering option for any bridesmaid. It’s detailed with gently pleated accents and a cut-out back for a semi-backless look.
Amsale AJ Bridesmaid Dress
Strapless with a sweetheart neckline, the Amsale AJ Bridesmaid Dress wows in a fit and flare silhouette with a front slit and a flattering natural waist.
Adrianna Papell Platinum 40135 Bridesmaid Dress
If you love embellishments and appliques, check out the Adrianna Papell Platinum 40135 Bridesmaid Dress. This stunning look features shimmering beading in a sleeveless A-line silhouette with a V-neck and bra-friendly straps.
Marchesa Notte BM118 Bridesmaid Dress
The Marchesa Notte BM118 Bridesmaid Dress is oh-so-romantic in a one-shoulder chiffon silhouette with a ruffle overlay and a tiny bow at the waist.
Choosing the Right Flowers to Coordinate With Your Puff Sleeve Wedding Gown
Photo: Bella Birmingham/Davy Whitener featuring Amsale Dresses in Ballet Faile
Of course, your wedding day look won’t be complete without a stunning flower bouquet to carry down the aisle!
Here are some ideas on choosing the perfect floral bouquet, no matter what style your puff sleeve wedding dress is.
The best way to complement a boho or rustic wedding dress is with natural and organic greenery.
If you prefer something a tad more traditional, all-white flowers make for a gorgeous bouquet and won’t take away from your dress. Or, if you're wearing an elegant or glamorous ball gown, keep your bouquet classic with a colorful bouquet or an arrangement of pale roses.
For the bride donning a casual look or cottagecore dress, keep it super simple with small or no bouquets. Wrapping a few floral stems with burlap or lace will only enhance your laid-back cottagecore look.
Chic and modern, casual or boho, beachy or traditional, puff sleeves are a major trend that works for all wedding styles.
Feel free to go big and dramatic or opt for small and subtle. Either way, puffed sleeves almost guarantee that while you might not be a princess on your wedding day, you’re sure to feel like one!
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