How To Wear Puff Sleeve Dresses

Most fashion trends enjoy a season or two in the sun. The puff sleeve trend, however, seems to have solidified its position as a staple silhouette — the design that’s never ‘out’. Puff sleeve dresses may seem intimidating, and you may be wondering how on earth to style those huge sleeves. Puff sleeve dresses are actually one of the easiest silhouettes to style. Why? The dress does all the talking, which means your accessories, hair, and makeup can be a bit more understated. Here, we delve into how to wear puff-sleeve dresses and explore the must-have styles making their mark this season.

  

Why We Love Puff Sleeve Dresses

There’s so much to love about puff sleeve dresses.

They’re romantic, whimsical, and classically glamorous, but they don’t feel outdated or unwearable. Most styles feature modern accents, such as mini hemlines and vibrant colours, which makes the puff sleeve design feel more relevant and contemporary. So, you get the best of both; that timeless feminine look and feel with a modern twist.

We also love that puff sleeve dresses can be styled up or down with minimal fuss. They deliver an effortlessly chic, put-together look every time, no matter the occasion. By simply swapping out certain accessories, you can bring the look from day to night with ease. More on that below. 

How To Style Puff Sleeve Dresses

There are three things to keep in mind when styling puff-sleeve dresses. 

Less Is Best

A puff sleeve dress is a statement piece — it really is the star of the show. This means you can safely keep accessories to a minimum without having to worry that you’re underdressed. Opt for fine jewellery, a simple bag, and understated heels. Avoid anything chunky or with excessive detailing, as this will lead to an overly busy look. 

Colour, Print, Or Neutrals?

Whether you’re all about the colour or a neutral fan at heart, look to styles that feel like you. If you’re not sure where your love lies, consider opting for bold and bright colours during the summery months. Think hot pinks, bright oranges, and vibrant blues. As the weather cools, lean towards prints, jewel tones, and neutrals. 

Consider The Location

Puff sleeve dresses will work for any occasion but pay attention to the overall structure of the outfit to ensure you’re in line with the dress code.

Remember that for most cocktail parties, it’s best to steer clear of mini dresses. Look to a puff sleeve midi dress instead. However, the puff sleeves will deliver a more elevated look than a spaghetti-strap mini dress, so you may be able to get away with a mini style. If in doubt, ask the host if mini dresses will be appropriate.

If you’re heading out for a brunch, date night, or evening drinks, you’ll have a bit more freedom when it comes to the design and length. Floaty midi and maxi designs will feel more relaxed, while shorter hemlines fit best at parties and bars. 

Must-Have Puff Sleeve Dresses

Below, we break down the must-have puff sleeve dresses of the season. 

Off-The-Shoulder Puff Sleeve

An off-the-shoulder puff sleeve dress is perfect for dressy picnics and luncheons. The draped silhouette is effortlessly relaxed yet elevated, making it ideal for daytime events. These dresses will also work well for more laidback evening events, such as sunset drinks at bars. 


When it comes to styling an off-shoulder puff sleeve dress, we recommend avoiding necklaces and statement earrings. These accessories combined with off-the-shoulder puff sleeves will overwhelm your figure and create a busy look. Opt for small hoops instead, and keep the neck bare. Pair with thin strappy heels and a matching clutch, avoiding anything bulky that will weigh the look down. 

 

 

 

The Puff Sleeve Midi

The puff sleeve midi dress is a hero from day to night. Midi styles with floaty skirts can be dressed up or down with ease, depending on the occasion.

During the day, slip on some sandals, a basket bag, and a straw hat for a summery, relaxed look. We love this ensemble for holidays in balmy locations or trips to the market.

To elevate the look for events and parties, swap your sandals for mules and your basket bag for a classic clutch. 

 

The Puff Sleeve Mini 

The puff sleeve mini dress is ideal for summer events. From dinners out and at-home birthday gatherings to bottomless brunches and high teas, the puff sleeve mini is a reliable choice.

We recommend pairing a puff sleeve mini dress with pointed-toe shoes. This combination has an elongating effect; it brings the eye right down to the tip of your toes. Add a simple mini bag that matches your heels and your look is complete. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pink Puff Sleeve

For the most traditionally feminine look, look to a pink puff sleeve dress. With pink pieces, it’s important to ensure the shade complements your skin tone. Baby pinks and magentas will work well for cooler skin tones, while peach and salmon hues are ideal for warmer skin tones.

We love pink puff sleeve dresses for special date nights and garden parties. If your dress is printed, nude or white accessories will work best. These subtle tones won’t detract from the dress and will keep everything looking cohesive.

If your dress is just the one shade of pink, you could try colourblocking your accessories. You may want to experiment with contrasting by pairing your pink dress with lemon or lime-coloured heels. Alternatively, keep the look tonal by adding accessories in a different shade of pink.

For a deeper dive into how to style a pink dress, visit our dedicated blog. 

 

The Holiday-Ready Puff Sleeve 

Sun-kissed skin and warm climates call for bright colours and prints. Puff sleeve dresses in easy-wearing shapes are perfect for holiday locations — think smock and tiered designs with short hemlines. These will feel breezy and light, perfect for relaxed days off-duty.

During the day, pair your puff sleeve dress with gold or nude sandals, sunglasses, and a simple crossbody bag. As evening falls, elevate the look by sweeping your hair into a low bun and adding low heels and gold hoop earrings.  

 

Find Your Fit

Now that you know how to wear puff sleeve dresses, you’re set for your next event. Whether you’re off to a wedding, school formal, birthday lunch, or date night, we’ve got you covered. With Dress For A Night, you can hire all of the pieces mentioned above for a fraction of the retail price. Discover new-season styles from Aje, Bec and Bridge, Zimmerman, and more.

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