Make a Statement in Bell Sleeves

By Colette-Janae Buck, Chief Copy Editor

From bell-shaped cuffs to structured short sleeves, spring is the season of statement tops and dresses. These types of garments can be found in a wide range of brand collections, including Forever 21, Who What Wear, couture brands and even those phony shopping sites advertised on Facebook.

It can be daunting to pick up a garment with extreme bell sleeves, but if you really want to keep up with this trend, then have no fear. I’m going to break down the do’s and don’ts of wearing statement sleeve this spring.

First off, start small. If you’re just getting into the trend or are a fashion beginner, it’s best to treat jumping into this trend like cutting your hair short; start with an inch and then cut it shorter.

Try out the sleeves by purchasing and wearing a slight bell sleeve. Like any other big change in life, it’s good to build up to your goal rather than going straight for it. Shirts or dresses with slight wrist-level flares would be a great starter. They give you a taste of that ‘70s flare without the risk of looking like a time capsule.

From there, transition into a larger bell sleeve or maybe a funnel sleeve before venturing into the great abyss of statement sleeves. As you should with other trends, play around with the different styles and have fun; that’s the whole point of trends.

Color is another aspect of the statement trend that can be daunting to the newbies. Try starting with neutral colors, such as black, white or monochrome stripes before maturing into the robin’s egg blue color that’s currently on trend.

When you become more confident, move onto a personal favorite of mine, a mesh, see-through fabric. This type of shirt combines two hot trends, the mesh trend with the bell sleeve trend. Try shopping around on Charlotte Russe, an online site, to find some different iterations of the mesh bell-sleeve look. If you want to take the bell sleeves into the nightlife or any other more formal occasion, I would suggest investing in a mesh, bell-sleeved top or dress.

Styling bell sleeves for the inexperienced can be a little bit of a guesswork, but if you break down the type of look you want to go for, you can always find a statement sleeve top to fit with your look.

Bell-sleeve and statement-sleeve tops are incredibly versatile. If you want a casual or more laid-back look, stick with a smaller sleeve that comes in a more neutral or basic pattern, much like the ones you would start out with as a statement sleeve beginner.

For something more formal or work-related, try darker colors in larger or more structured sleeves. Ones that hit you at about forearm length or t-shirt length look the most polished and put together. Pair with a nice pair of slacks or a dress skirt, depending on your preference. You can also lean more business casual and pair a more structured sleeve with a nice pair of jeans. You will still retain the polished look, but you’ll have the added bonus of a comfortable pair of jeans.

Wearing statement or structured sleeve tops and dresses does not not have to feel like you’re drowning in excess arm fabric. Take it slow, plan your outfit approach and you’ll be just fine.