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Bell Sleeve Dresses & Blouses: Wide Statement Sleeves for Fall 2015 Winter 2016

read about bell sleeves, batwings, cape sleeves, fluted sleeves, etc - 1960s 1970s retro styles

by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

What goes with bell bottoms? Bell sleeves, of course. Well, you don’t have to wear wide sleeves with wide-legged pants... but you'll certainly have lots of options if you want to wear big sleeves during fall 2015/winter 2016. And, fashion options are what make us smile. It means YOU can build YOUR own style by creating outfits that complement and flatter YOUR own body. And, this seems to be the right time to play with statement sleeves, like bells, trumpets, poets, and more.

read about this new silhouette

Bell Sleeve Mini Dress

I'm no fashion "expert", but I have a feeling that uniquely shaped sleeves are going to be the focus of many of your outfits in the coming years.

Wide Bell Sleeve Dresses & Tunic Tops:

Bell shaped and poetically wide sleeves... just like those cool bohemian peasant sleeves we swooped around in during the 60s and 70s... have been hot with two major fashion groups for the last several years:

  • Young, avant-garde, boho festival chicks in angel sleeved tops and dresses from Free People, Topshop, and an ever-changing array of cool junior's lines.
  • High-end designers like Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Chloe, and others in the same pay-grade, who have taken to flirting with wide, drifting bells and poet sleeves.

So, I have a feeling the "hippie" sleeve trend (of all lengths) will trickle up from the teenagers and trickle down from the fancy-dancy, big-shot designers... and all of a sudden, shazzam! Regular women like us (in the middle) are going to start noticing sleeves a whole lot more.

I suppose I could be wrong, but those vintage bell sleeves are so groovy... I hope I'm right. I hope this will become a big trend.

If you don't know who the designers I mentioned are, you might want to explore Nordstrom.com or NeimanMarcus.com. Or, to see cheaper examples of outfits with bell-shaped sleeves, you might want to wander around Forever 21, Modcloth, and some of the websites I mention below. Or... just click around on almost any fashion site to see this new trend.

I like bell sleeves. They add movement and grace.

Summer Festival Clothes With Bell Sleeves

I'm not saying that big bell sleeves are good or bad on older women. You make the decision. I happen to like this bohemian, retro look from the 70s, but it may be too nontraditional for you.

On the other hand, I'm here to tell all women over the age of _____ (fill in the blank) who've been complaining about how they can't find dresses with long sleeves, "Well, somebody's finally listening to you."

Can You Wear Bell Sleeves if You're Over 50?

Even if you seldom wear folk or bohemian or kimono-style clothing, you can borrow elements of festival-wear from the teenyboppers and adapt it... to make it your own.

... Are you wondering if you can sneak into the junior's department if you're over 60? Of course you can... as long as you're not trying on clothing that's snug fitting... and as long as you don't go festival crazy from head to toe.

read how to wear bell sleeves

Don't Go Hippie From Head to Toe if You're Older

  • We're talking about finding a gauzy summer shirt like the one in the photo above (maybe in a junior plus) and throwing it on over your go-to TravelSmith dress... to add a bit of character... AND to cover your arms.
  • We're talking about wearing a plus-size festival dress (like the one above), adding some skinny hoop earrings and a big floppy straw hat; and then dancing on the sand at Daytona Beach... scaring all the old folks in their retirement condos until they scream, "Dag nab it, Martha, I told you those dang hippies were still around. Let's call the pest control people."
  • We're talking about finding a cute striped cardi with glorious bell sleeves in Santa Fe colors (like in the photo above), disposing of the shorts and the halter... then wearing that beautiful striped sweater over jeans and a blue T-shirt from Old Navy... all the while implying that you're wearing a recent creation designed by someone in Italy whose name starts with M... but isn't Missoni... haha.

Just don't go berserk with retro style if you're over 40.

We are NOT talking about wearing a crocheted vest over a hippie blouse and printed bell bottoms... and putting flowers in your hair... and singing like Janis Joplin in the middle of Time Square... just to embarrass your children. No matter how tempted you may be, you need to remember you are not 16 years old anymore. This is not 1969. You are not on your way to Woodstock.

I'm sorry you missed Woodstock the first time around... but this is 2015... and even though pot is legal (or almost legal) in a lot of states... and the whole world is slightly crazy... you have to dress like a responsible adult. You have a reputation to uphold. ... Oh, screw that. Wear what you want. But, if you end up in Bellevue Hospital because you decided to streak the homeless people in Central Park (after your clothing gave you a hippie flashback), don't come crying to me.

Trendy Poet & Trumpet Sleeves:

If you're not old enough to remember the 60s or 70s and you haven't studied fashion at design school, you may not know there are different kinds of bell-type sleeves.

All of the sleeves shown in this article can be considered bells, but some of the sleeves are tighter through part of the arm. This is important to know if you're sewing a dress or buying a dress that doesn't stretch.

read about sleeve trends for 2015 fall & beyond

Trumpet Style Bell Sleeves 2015 2016

Trumpet Sleeved Fashion for Women - See Photo Above:

  • The teal dress (on the left) has the type of trumpet sleeves we wore throughout the 60s. We called dresses from this time period Carnaby Street Mod... or British Mod... or just Mod. Well, women in the US called fashions from this era Mod.
  • The red dress (in the center) has larger trumpet sleeves. The sleeves are somewhat tight above the elbow (seam) and flare out below to the wrists. This modern dress has been designed in classic 60s/70s style.
  • The peach blouse (on the right) has short trumpet sleeves. We used to wear crop-top outfits with this type of ruffled sleeve and matching bell-bottomed hiphuggers with the same type of ruffles on the pants (below the knees). It was like a combination of Mod and Flamenco. That trend was big during the mid 60s... back when baby boomers were cool. God, can I have my old waistline back? Those were the days.
read about retro women's fashion for 2015 2015

Poet Sleeved Blouse & Dresses

Poet Sleeved Top & Dresses for Fall 2015 - See Photo Above:

Many women call the sleeves in the photo (above) bell sleeves. Technically, a wide sleeve that gathers at the wrist is a poet sleeve, however bell, trumpet, and poet are often used interchangeably on websites, so I'm going to do the same in this article.

  • The white poet blouse for fall 2015/winter 2016 (on the left) has long puffy sleeves that gather at the wrist. It also has cuffs that are ruffled to mid-hand. We wore this type of sleeve during the late 60s and early 70s. It was a precursor to "prairie style". This was also the time period when hip teenagers started moving away from structured British Mod and started drifting over toward the next big thing... a softer look... now referred to as hippie fashion. Today, it's called boho.
  • The black Victorian-style dress for fall 2015/winter 2016 (in the center) has poet sleeves. I loved this dress so much that I decided to do some research. The result is this article about sleeve trends.
  • The black dress with sheer poet sleeves (on the right) is the perfect type of dress for older women who want to cover their arms without wearing heavy sleeves. A lightweight dress or top, with long poet or bell sleeves (worn over a sleeveless slip or cami) is the perfect style for warm, hotflash days (in a lighter color) and rockin' cool evenings (in a party color).

Bell Sleeved Dresses for Fall 2015 & Beyond:

As you can see, some of the photos show summery tops and dresses, so you don't have to wait until fall to find clothing with comfortable, fluttery sleeves.

read about trendy clothing for summer and fall 2015 and beyond

French Bell Sleeved Sweater for Fall

On the other hand, it can be a bit tricky to find the right wide sleeves in the right size at the right price. Every brand seems to have its own terminology for their own floaty, gauzy (or tailored) wide sleeves. Here are several other words to google if you want to find fabulous 60s or 70s retro sleeves for fall and winter:

  • Fluted Sleeve
  • Angel Sleeve
  • Peasant Sleeve
  • Flare Sleeve
  • Ruffle Sleeve
  • Wide Sleeve
  • Volume Sleeve
  • Kimono Sleeve

You can find whatever type of sleeve suits your body.

If you look around on various websites, you can get newer versions of those softly pleasing styles you remember from your high school and college days. I've even seen outfits with sleeves from the time of disco... so you just have to search for your favorite memories.

If you're a young chick, you now know what the hippest retro styles are called. If you're an older chick, you now have no reason to complain about all the sleeveless (and short sleeved) dresses online. Cool, fun, unique, retro, creative sleeves are on almost every fashion website.

More Articles for Fashionably Chic Women Around the World:

70s Fashion Trend for Women: Flared Legs, Disco, and Platforms

60s Fashion Style - 1964 Mod Dresses, Go-Go Boots, Quant, Beatles & Retro Fashion (Updated)

Waist-Hip Ratio - Fake the Perfect Female Body

Why Boho Chic Will Never Die (Updated)

new trends for fall women

Main Photo: Bell Sleeves

Photo Credits:

  • Main Photo - Bell Sleeves: Asos, Monsoon, Phase Eight, Asos (all 2015).
  • Bell Sleeve Mini Dress: Asos (summer 2015).
  • Summer Festival Clothes With Bell Sleeves: Asos, Asos Curve, Asos (all summer 2015).
  • Don't Go Hippie From Head to Toe if You're Older: Asos (summer). Don't laugh, I would have worn this when I was 16. It's totally groovy, but only the jacket is available and in limited sizes.
  • Trumpet Style Bell Sleeves 2015 2016: Joe Browns, Miss Selfridge, Asos.
  • Poet Sleeved Blouse & Dresses: La Redoute, Dorothy Perkins, East (all fall 2015/winter 2016).
  • French Bell Sleeved Sweater for Fall: La Redoute (fall 2015/winter 2016).

What do you think of this article? Would you wear big sleeves? I would. I already have some. Leave a comment below. It won't show up until I have time to approve it.

Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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