Fashion has an ace up its sleeve

This year's fashion statement is a new take on an old look -and it is all about the sleeves. Federica Mancusi anticipates 2022 fashion trends in exclusive for Segmento

The Italian expression essere di manica larga, literally translating as 'to be broad-sleeved', means generous, and this perfectly describes this coming season's fashion. And generous refers not only to the variety of elements, combination of colours and range of colour tones, but literally to the very generous sleeve sizes we will be seeing in fashionable garments.

Alberta Ferretti . . . "a manica larga"

Balloon-like or puffball, curled up ,gathered or like a waterfall, wide, long and lavish, the supersized sleeve that will characterise women's fashion for the next season will contradict the saying 'bigger isn't always better'. All in all, perfect timing for the 700thanniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri as il somma poeta (the supreme poet) is always portraited while wearing his distinctive wide red sleeves. Admittedly, the trend for big bell sleeves is nothing new (especially if we remember it was already present in the Middle Ages). Its latest appearance dates back to 2018, with countless 1980s references making a splash on international runways. In fact, season after season this look keeps popping up in fashion trends -and when it does, it dominates. This season, the puffy sleeve was seen in many combinations across the fashion runways, for instance, at the Fendi and Luisa Spagnoli fall -winter 2020 -2021 collections, as pictured. A puff sleeve elicits an air of romanticism and provides a sense of femininity. Its generosity can provide volume and shape to otherwise plain and simple blouses and dresses. In this way, it transforms simple cuts into masterpieces.

Lusia Spagnoli - 2021 Winter Collection

An almost indispensable part of contemporary womenswear, the exaggerated sleeve is proving itself to have a longer shelf life than expected, and it is growing in popularity. Although it became a fashion de rigeur in 2020, skip forward one season, and it is still on the European runways -voluptuous sleeves and wider than ever, such as those featured in the spring -summer 2021 collections of Italian brands such as Fracomina.

However, since every trend is supposed to undergo some evolution, it goes without saying that the oversized sleeve will be changing, mutating into something else. If I may, I would dare to make a little prediction. The volume is going to either extend or move towards the top part of the sleeve, conferring in the first case more 'shoulder action', and turning in the second case the puffed sleeve into a puffed shoulder. Consequently, by moving the volume to the top, romanticism will be flanked by a sense of power and confidence. The first early signs of this mutation were spotted at the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony in April this year, with Angela Bassett's grand entrance in that splendid custom red Alberta Ferretti off-the-shoulder gown with full, draped organza shoulders, and in most of the Alberta Ferretti Pre-Fall 2021 collection, featuring puff shoulders along with balloon sleeves.

And, as it often happens when it comes to fashion, Australian designers embrace the European inspiration and propose their interpretation, as we have seen with Witchery and Elle Zeitoune.

Fendi - 2020 Winter collection

So, before we get through this fashion season all 'puffed up' with an ace up our sleeve, here are some fashion tips:

à‚·      Trimming such as lace immediately provide a touch of femininity. If you are after a more courageous touch, accessories (a mini clutch bag or cat eye sunglasses) are essential.

à‚·      Giant sheer sleeves help achieve something which is sexy, elegant and feminine at the same time. As an alternative, instead of a dress, you could choose a shirt and jeans combo.

à‚·      You can add some embroidery, little pearls, beads or something else on the sleeves. Even better, go for a classy look by matching the colour of another element, such as shoes, clutch bag or headband.

à‚·      If you are worried big sleeves could be too much, opt for some glamour, combinations with black or dark garments arealways very striking


The idea is to be creative, think generous, think big, maniche larghe.