Voluminous sleeves are still in fashion – Here are 12 of the most beautiful shirts, blouses and tops

The feminist trend that came to us from the royal closet is not going to give up positions.

Voluminous sleeves are still in fashion - Here are 12 of the most beautiful shirts, blouses and tops (1)

The romantic trend of voluminous sleeves came to us from couture collections and, as a consequence, from the red carpets. It reached its peak in recent years, I think, in 2020. That’s when we saw voluminous sleeves particularly often. At the Golden Globes alone, almost a dozen actresses appeared in dresses with “lanterns” and “wings”: Cate Blanchett, Zoe Dutch, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jodie Comer, Caitlin Devere, Olivia Colman and many others. “Massive sleeves symbolize feminine power,” The Hollywood Reporter wrote at the time, outlining the main reason why contemporary celebrities are so enamored of such sleeves.

Voluminous sleeves are still in fashion - Here are 12 of the most beautiful shirts, blouses and tops (3)

Cate Blanchett at the Golden Globes in Mary Katrantzou

It really is. In the new realities, voluminous sleeves have become a silent feminist statement – other Western publications like The Guardian and the New York Times regularly write about it. Earlier, however – during the Tudor period in England from 1485 to 1603 – the meaning of “lanterns” was very different. The Tudors, who were the first to wear such sleeves, wanted the volume at the shoulders to symbolize their superiority over others. And also wealth – that’s why in the royal portraits you can see the slits in the sleeves, through which you can see another fabric. That’s how members of the dynasty demonstrated that they could afford to wear one garment underneath another. Ordinary people were forbidden to wear such sleeves.

Today it seems absurd because fabrics are no longer as valuable as in the Middle Ages – status symbols are quite different. Over the next centuries, voluminous sleeves acquired other meanings, the main of which was fixed for them in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. “Lanterns” and all their variations became an element of costume, emphasizing femininity. And only in the second half of the 2010s, during the fourth wave of feminism, voluminous sleeves in women’s closets, as if imitating biceps, turned into a sign of strength.

In the 2020s shirts, blouses, tops, jackets and even dresses with massive sleeves began to appear in men’s collections. Along with high-heeled shoes, skirts, cosmetics and jewelry, bulky sleeves became a symbol of the death of toxic masculinity. The strongest gendered connotation that had fixed on this closet element in the late nineteenth century has finally started to fade. And today we see Harry Styles, the lead singer of Måneskin, Damiano David, and other famous men wearing such blouses, who consider it their duty to blur the gender framework in fashion.

Over the past few years, we have seen voluminous sleeves on the runway countless times. It would be much easier to name a brand that has not succumbed to this trend than to list those that have not tried it at least once in their collections. Even the Olsen sisters’ minimalist brand The Row gave in to the temptation of adding volume to the sleeves of a black cotton blouse draped with a belt at the waist for the spring-summer 2022 season.

But the record holder for sleeve size in recent years has been Jonathan Anderson, who inflated the sleeves of coats, jackets, shirts and bomber jackets at Loewe to the size of wings. There’s a sense that this was a quote from early 20th century attire, when American women wore dresses with sleeves so voluminous that they couldn’t always fit through a doorway. Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen is not behind either – for several seasons in a row, wing sleeves appear in her collections at least once.

Voluminous sleeves are still in fashion - Here are 12 of the most beautiful shirts, blouses and tops (5)

Voluminous sleeves are still in fashion - Here are 12 of the most beautiful shirts, blouses and tops (7)

If you too want to incorporate at least one blouse, shirt or top with solid sleeves into your closet, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve already gathered a lot of great options for you that are available for purchase right now. There’s the black bandeau top with “lanterns” from the Jacquemus spring-summer 2021 collection (the same one that Simon Port Jacquemus showed in Wheatfield), the white romantic Cecilie Bahnsen, and the perfect Totême in a wool-silk blend. Our selection has silhouettes for all tastes and budgets – and the sleeves of all the models are very different, but always voluminous.

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Voluminous sleeves are still in fashion - Here are 12 of the most beautiful shirts, blouses and tops (31)

Pam

I am Fashion Stylist and Blogger. I'm writing about fashion trends for women, outfit ideas, and how to pair clothes, and I will help you to find wardrobe staples and must-have accessories.

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