I AM NOT a fan of the bare-shoulder (cold-shoulder) trend that became popular a couple of years ago. It may have its place in steamy, hot weather or for evening wear but what about in frigid air-conditioned spaces? Do you cover up exposed shoulders with a wrap or just freeze for the sake of fashion? It has the same appeal for me as wearing a strapless bra. Uncomfortable and always on the alert for slippage. The look seems to be, er, cooling off, although one-shoulder pieces are still going strong. As for those voluminous dresses and blouses with ruffles and froufrou flounces, more manageable styles have shown up, allowing you to eat without having your clothing look like your lunch.
Instead of overwhelming you, shoulders puff out, while sleeves gently pouf. The effect is similar to shoulder pads—remember those? One of the nice things about the emphasis on shoulders and sleeves is that it draws the eye to our smallest body part—our waistline. Moreover, the silhouette looks new and fresh, which justifies a wardrobe addition or two.
Note that stand-out sleeves should be balanced with an unfussy silhouette, such as slim pants or slightly flared skirt hemlines. New dresses and blouses come in all price ranges and materials—from a a Something Navy crewneck T-shirt to a metallic, pleated, over-the-top, Elizabethan-like blouse from Rodarte. Below, some suggested additions to hit the refresh button on the last weeks of summer.
LEFT: Sea’s Luna Corded Puff Sleeve Dress ($395, Shopbop), made of stretch sateen, is the kind of thing you can wear for multiple occasions and not be bored. The pretty details—ruffled neckline, puff shoulders and buttons along the back—combine with the practical cinched-elastic waistline. CENTER: I’ve been eyeing Zara’s Balloon Sleeve Shirt ($69) for several weeks now. The sleeves are slightly fuller than I’d like, but still it’s a fun, new take on an old wardrobe reliable. I just hope it doesn’t sell out before I push the button on it. RIGHT: Wearable right now and into the fall, this Indah Printed Cotton Maxi Dress ($445, Moda Operandi) is made by artisans in India. Sometimes Ulla Johnson’s clothing gives off a too-crafty vibe, but not in this instance. The lush-looking leaf print is available on an orange or navy background.
LEFT: Alice + Olivia‘s silky Maylee Tie-Neck Blouse with puff sleeves says prim but with attitude. Take even more of the starch out of it by wearing with your favorite jeans. $350, Nordstrom. RIGHT: Danish designer Ganni gives a turtleneck a fresh look with a fitted bodice, lightly padded shoulders, sleeves with elasticized cuffs and a semi-sheer back. The Mesh Check Puff Sleeve Top is $145 from Need Supply.
LEFT: I can see wearing Zara‘s dotted appliqué Organza Blouse with Full Sleeves ($49) with a pair of satin pants for a black-tie event or just a swank evening out. RIGHT: Apiece Apart‘s linen-and-silk Shirtdress (reduced to $296.48 from $495, Nordstrom) takes a softer, relaxed approach to the traditionally tailored classic.
LEFT: Embroidery, ruffles, defined shoulders and elbow-length sleeves set J.Crew‘s Mockneck Embroidered Blouse ($79.50) apart from an ordinary button-up. Also available in white and black. CENTER: Gently puffed shoulders and three-quarter sleeves turn a crewneck T-shirt into a fresh staple, ready to wear now or in any season. Something Navy’s Puff Sleeve T-Shirt ($45, Nordstrom) is available in heather, black, olive, white or pink. RIGHT: It’s hard to go wrong with a French sailor shirt, à la Coco Chanel. Kate Spade New York’s Sailing Stripe Tee ($88, Bloomingdales) updates it with stylishly scrunched sleeves.
LEFT: Romance is always in fashion. And Rebecca Taylor’s Terri Embroidered Linen Top is on sale, too (reduced from $395 to $236.98 at Nordstrom). This linen-eyelet top with slightly puffed shoulders, scalloped trim at the collar, cuffs and hem, spells sweet and feminine. RIGHT: Whether to wear it or display it is the question, as it often is with Rodarte. But if you happen to have the budget of a one-percenter, you can take your choice with this Metallic Plissé Lamé Top ($2,245, Moda Operandi). Inspired by Elizabethan era styles, Rodarte’s blouse has a cascading bib, puffed Juliet sleeves and a fluted collar. In case you’re interested, the matching wide-leg pants are $2,070.