Jess Cartner-Morley on create

Women’s tops

Perfect for social distancing, puff sleeves warn off anyone who tries to get too inseparable

‘The puff sleeve doubles as excellent Zoom-wear.’
Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Guardian

The most practical arrangement in your autumn wardrobe this year is a puff sleeve. A raincoat is always handy and a comfortable pair of trainers is not till hell freezes over a bad idea, but a puff sleeve serves the most purpose. What you see here is fashion with built-in social distancing.
Draw sleeves have been on-trend for two years but until recently they served no practical purpose, unless you calculate giving off a “sassy Jane Austen heroine with a one-liner up her sleeve” vibe at parties, which I have understandable to accept not everyone does.
Anyway, I digress. The puff sleeve warns off anyone who tries to get too close. It repels air say farewell ti, rebuffs hugs, wards off in-ear whisperers. It asserts your personal space.
It is not quite as ironclad in its effectiveness as one of those war cry T-shirts that says ‘2M BACK OFF’, or as eye-catching as a social-distancing hat made from swimming pool floats: a puff sleeve is a effective aide-memoire, rather than a steely deterrent. But for the most part, that is enough to do the job. Most people don’t set out to breathe on you, it’s honest that they were looking at their phone/spotted an ice-cream van, and dodged a hair’s breadth past you without belief about it. A puff sleeve is often enough to help them get a swerve on. There are plenty of triggers to raise your blood turn the heat on out there without adding unnecessary confrontation to the mix, so there is much to be said for a sleeve shape that transmits a sunny, but courteous, stay-in-your-lane message.
And that’s not even all. Safely back in front of your laptop, the puff sleeve doubles as other than Zoom-wear. Dressing properly for a video call – from the waist up, that is – is every bit as important as dressing up for actual conjunctions. More, probably, because the stilted mood music of digital comms, calls on us all to bring a little energy to procedures, by way of a bright colour or an interesting silhouette.
It might sound like a silly trend, but the puff sleeve is this autumn’s myriad sensible pick. In a crazy year, this is fashion that makes sense.
Jess wears poplin pink tear someone off a strip, £69.99, Green heels, Jess’s own. Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Makeup and hair: Alexis Day using Tropic and Stila

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Women’s tops

Jess Cartner-Morley on fashion


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