Hollywood thrives on drama. And when it comes to wardrobing, the oversize statement sleeve is the dramatic thing for spring, seen everywhere from designer catwalks to the Golden Globes red carpet — brandished by the likes of Cate Blanchett, Zoey Deutch, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jodie Comer, Kaitlyn Dever and Olivia Colman. Fortunately, these puffed-up looks can be translated to professional wardrobes, with a big sleeve connoting power on everything from crisp blouses to dresses.
“Gwyneth is a big pusher of the sleeve,” says A-list stylist Elizabeth Saltzman, who dressed Paltrow and Comer for the Globes and who mentions stylish options in Goop’s G. Label fashion line. “It’s something she has always loved.” To balance a dramatic sleeve on a blouse, Saltzman recommends sticking to a “close-to-the-body” fit and pairing the top with a minimal bottom: masculine, tailored trousers or a slightly A-line midi skirt, plus pearls.
“Keep it simple,” she emphasizes. “The goal is to look classic and cool and have the blouse be an accent, rather than the focal point. A balloon sleeve can be hard for everyday; shorter pouf sleeves are easier. Done in men’s shirting fabric, it looks so sharp.”
Stylist Erin Walsh points to client Sarah Jessica Parker as a prime example of how even someone petite can pull off the statement sleeve. “Sarah Jessica has her sleeve game down!” jokes Walsh, who also works with Thandie Newton and Beanie Feldstein. “She’s done so many different, voluminous sleeve variations. She really knows how to carry something, because it’s tailored in a proportional way.”
Walsh shares some tips on how to best achieve the look. “You don’t want to get lost in your clothes, so you need to balance things out,” she says. “That doesn’t mean you need to have a cinched waist with a statement sleeve, but it’s good to keep in mind an elongated silhouette by wearing a longer, wide-leg trouser. And make sure the pieces fit you in the right spots. If you wear a giant, voluminous blouse untucked, you need to balance it for work by wearing a heel.”
Adds stylist Negar Ali Kline, whose clients include Endeavor chief marketing officer Bozoma Saint John (the exec sported statement sleeves at the Billboard Music Awards and Africa-America Institute awards gala): “It’s a very flattering silhouette for lots of body types. When you have volume on your sleeves and you keep everything else tailored, the waist appears smaller. It’s a fun, fashion-forward statement that can be appropriate for the boardroom, and then you can easily transition to a cocktail event, because it is special.”
Go Big Or Go Home: Six Blouses and Dresses with Bold Sleeves
This story first appeared in the Jan. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.