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Fashion is full of nostalgia, from '70s-inspired boho dresses to '90s-era minimalist gowns. While both aesthetics work for a bride on her big day, one ’80s trend is bigger than ever as of late—puff-sleeve wedding dresses (and yes, pun very much intended). That’s right, uber-poofy sleeves, balloon cuffs, and puffed-up shoulders are ruling the bridal scene—but they’re not the same old-school versions you might have seen in your parent’s or grandparent’s wedding photos. Designers have reimagined the voluminous trend, though some dresses take inspiration from decade-defining gowns like Princess Diana’s silk and taffeta creation.
“We’re all about creating a look that feels unique on your big day, and we love an exaggerated puff sleeve,” says Kaity Gaskill, a buyer at BHLDN. “We have been closely tracking the trend since the first runway emergence and are working to bring it to life in a way that feels fresh and timeless for brides-to-be.” Pia Panaligan, director of styling and visual design at David’s Bridal, is also in favor of the puffy-sleeve wedding dress trend, telling Brides, “If there’s something that never goes out of style, it’s a statement piece. There’s something about big puffy sleeves, especially made with transparent fabric, with some structure to it that’s very romantic.”
Meet the Expert
- Pia Panaligan is the director of styling and visual design at David’s Bridal and is based in Philadelphia. With a thorough knowledge of bridal fashion, current trends, and an acute eye for fit and detail, she articulates the brand's voice each season by styling their digital and print fashion editorials and brand visuals.
- Kaity Gaskill is a buyer at BHLDN that is in charge of developing and curating the retailer’s product assortment. She’s been with the brand for over six years, buying for all categories but loves gowns the best.
Whether you’re here for a subtle play on volume or love the fantasy of puffy design, scroll through our edit of 20 puffy-sleeve wedding dresses for every taste and budget.
Most Romantic: Danielle Frankel Rosalie Dress
Size Range: 0-12 | Length: Floor-length | Material: Organza
Danielle Frankel’s empire-waist gown with a sweetheart neckline is utterly romantic for a modern princess moment. Chorded lace peeks from beneath, under the silk organza, with every step–a unique touch we love, in addition to the crinkled sleeves.
Best Lace Design: Melissa Sweet Puff-Sleeve Plus-Size Wedding Dress With Low Back
Size Range: 16W-30W | Length: Floor-length | Material: Polyester, nylon
This puff-sleeve design is perfect for the bride craving lace with a modern feel. Style the sleeves on or off the shoulders, and be sure to note the beautiful low back.
Best Pencil Silhouette: Imad Eduso Bridal Michelle Pencil Dress
Size Range: 2-16 | Length: Floor-length | Material: Satin
This gown is proof that minimalism and drama can beautifully combine. But the balloon sleeves aren’t the only wow-worthy detail—the plunging neckline is incredibly captivating.
Best Vintage-Inspired: Rixo Louella Floral Lace Wedding Dress
Size Range: XXS-XL | Length: Ankle-length | Material: Lace
Rixo’s corded lace wedding dress flawlessly sets a nostalgic tone while appearing fresh and modern. We love how the sheer skirt and sleeves offset the demure neckline, not to mention the unique zigzag hem.
Best Crystal-Trimmed: Katharine Polk Gwen Gown
Size Range: 00-30 | Length: Floor-length | Material: Morié and crystal
Nothing screams vintage quite like taffeta, but Katherine Polk masterfully interprets the fabric for the current decade. The minimal design instantly feels modern, and it is made even fresher by its dramatic back cutout and crystal trim.
Best Goddess-Inspired: Watters Mist Bridal Gown
Size Range: 00-24W | Length: Floor-length | Material: Soft netting, Dotted Netting, Stretch Poly Charmeuse, 5' Horsehair, Tulle
Let your inner goddess shine through in this crinkle chiffon gown by Watters. The corseted bodice gives it an extra feminine feel while feeling supportive for hours on end.
For the Tropical Bride: Naeem Khan Sanibel Wedding Dress
Size Range: Contact brand | Length: Floor-length | Material: Structured satin
Minimal and sweet with plenty of movement, we love this bow-adorned design by Naeem Kahn for tropical brides. The perfect shoe choice? Bare feet!
Best Gown With Removeable Sleeves: Alon Livné White Cassie Wedding Dress
Size Range: Contact brand | Length: Floor-length | Material: Satin
This satin gown is incredibly romantic but also versatile. The sleeves are removable and can be styled asymmetrically for a directional look.
For the Maximalist Bride: Esé Azénabor Wedding Dress
Size Range: Contact brand | Length: Floor-length | Material: Satin
Does your taste skew maximalist? Then this gown is for you! As if the exaggerated bishop sleeves weren’t enough, the 3D lace makes for a seriously major wow moment.
For the Laid Back Bride: Reformation Stars Dress
Size Range: 0-12 | Length: Floor-length | Material: Viscose
Puffy sleeves might not seem like a covetable detail among casual tastes, but this A-line gown proves how effortless the trend can read. The tiered puffed sleeves stand out beautifully against the fitted bodice and simple skirt.
For the ‘80s-Loving Bride: Halfpenny London Cosmic Dress & Mars Sleeves
Size Range: Contact brand | Length: Floor-length | Material: Duchess satin
If you’re all about resurrecting ’80s trends to the fullest, then Halpenny London’s Out of This World collection is right up your alley. The sleeves and dresses from this assortment are separates, so you can mix and match styles to best suit your taste—our favorite combo being massive sleeves and a slim-fitting skirt.
Best Under-$300: Asos Edition Lucy Placement Beaded Wedding Dress
Size Range: 0-14 | Length: Floor-length | Material: Chiffon
This affordable Asos Edition wedding dress is a subtler take on the puffy-sleeve trend but statement-making all the same. The sheer lace sleeves exude romance while the open back serves as a fresh counterbalance.
For the Minimalist Bride: Pronovias Turner Mermaid Wedding Dress
Size Range: Contact brand | Length: Floor-length | Material: Crepe
Pronovias is synonymous with drama, and this puffy-sleeve wedding dress is hardly an exception. Though minimal in aesthetic, the Juliet-style sleeves, plunging neckline, and covered buttons lining the cuffs and backside, are breathtaking.
Best Two-Piece: Laury Bride Kalah Bishop Sleeve Bodysuit & Dina Trumpet Skirt
Size Range: XS-XL | Length: Floor-length | Material: Stretch crepe
Though you would never guess, many gorgeous wedding dresses feature two pieces. This bodysuit-skirt combo is a sleek pair we love for modern brides. The sleeves are incredibly bold but well-balanced by the trumpet skirt and dipped-down neckline.
Most Ethereal: Dana Harel Kaya Wedding Gown
Size Range: Contact brand | Length: Floor-length | Material: Tulle
For the bride in favor of ethereal style on her wedding day, this Dana Harel gown is spectacular. The tiered sheer puff sleeves and high collar are entirely romantic and beautifully enhanced by intricate beadwork.
Best Midi-Length: Elizabeth Fillmore Isadora Wedding Dress
Size Range: Contact brand | Length: Midi | Material: Silk taffeta slip
This lacy Elizabeth Fillmore creation is impressively detailed and perfect for the bride in favor of a mid-length wedding dress. Our favorite features apart from the sleeves? The darling swiss dots and scalloped hem.
Best A-Line Silhouette: Lela Rose The Melrose Wedding Dress
Size Range: Contact brand | Length: Midi | Material: Embossed fil coupé
It should come as no surprise that a voluminous A-line skirt and puffy sleeves are a match made in bridal heaven. The low-back on this design gives it a modern touch. Plus, the sleeves are removable for versatile styling on the big day.
Best Slit: Berta Wedding Dress
Size Range: Contact brand | Length: Floor-length
Berta always delivers on sensuality, and this high-slit gown is no different. The puffed shoulders and long sleeves, however, bring an elegant balance to the otherwise skin-baring design.
Best Under-$500: Azazie Vendela Wedding Dress
Size Range: WD0-30 | Length: Floor-length | Material: Tulle, lace
High drama for under $500? Yes, please! And plenty of romance to boot. For the bride in search of a fairytale ballgown, this budget-friendly buy is it.
What to Consider When Shopping For A Puff Sleeve Wedding Dress
If you think puffy-sleeve wedding dresses might feel a little too Disney princess for you, subtler variations could be a welcome dose of volume. The same goes for Victorian-inspired mutton sleeves or billowing bishop sleeves—both are a lot of look. But when offset with clean lines and minimal accessories, such details will result in a modern bridal moment. Gaskill tells Brides, “We love the many ways a puff sleeve can be executed, whether in an off-the-shoulder silhouette, a dramatic long sleeve, or a simple short sleeve, there’s no wrong way to wear this trend!”
Should I buy a puffy-sleeve wedding dress?
Puffy-sleeve wedding dresses are best suited for brides in favor of drama or those who want romantic and feminine touches. They feature large sleeves or shoulders and range in aesthetic from minimal to ornate.
Where and when can you wear a puffy-sleeve wedding dress?
Super-exaggerated styles and heavier fabrics are best in the cooler months. In contrast, lightweight materials, arm and shoulder-baring silhouettes, or designs featuring cutouts are most comfortable in warm weather.
How do you style a puffy-sleeve wedding dress?
A general rule of thumb: For voluminous and decorative dresses, simple shoes, veils, and minimal jewelry are ideal. If you choose a simpler design, you can consider a detailed veil, statement shoes, or bold jewelry.
Why Trust Brides
Laura Lajiness is a writer and editor covering fashion, accessories, and fine jewelry (she pens the occasional beauty conundrum and travel essay, too). Her work can be found across various outlets, including Elle, InStyle, Glamour, Refinery29, The Zoe Report, Well+Good, and Barneys New York, among other titles and brands. She was the senior fashion editor at The Zoe Report and PopSugar, and she has additional experience as a copywriter and fashion publicist.