At the top of my style list this summer is the ultimate feminine silhouette: the high neck, puff sleeve dress. It’s such a beautiful but wearable piece and completely epitomises feminine power. From square necklines to stand up collars, it’s obvious that Victorian fashion is going to be around for a while and I’m savouring every moment of this trend. High necks and puff sleeves: my new obsession.
A high neck dress with puff sleeves is a dress that really speaks for itself. The Elizabethan puff sleeves exude pomp and grandeur whereas the high neck with delicate scalloping keeps it elegant…and we all know how much I adore broderie anglaise. As the silhouette draws the attention, opt for minimal makeup and accessories. If you’ve got a couple of socially distant garden parties in the calendar, a high neck and puffed sleeve mini dress is the perfect balance between glamour and practicality- long sleeves will also prevent you from shivering for a shawl at the mercy of the unreliable British summer.
Having meetings entirely online has also meant I’ve had to think a little bit more about what I’m wearing on the top half. I’m a big believer in the power of clothes in the workplace and this still applies to working remotely. Since this neckline is so sophisticated, I’ve been sporting this style of dress for all work-related Zoom calls (as well as the pub quiz!) and I’ve been enjoying experimenting with the puff sleeves.
From the 1840s onwards, the high neck collar really rose in popularity. In the 1890s with women fighting against the ‘Angel of the House’ feminine stereotype, puff sleeves also made an appearance in fashion. Creating drama through a change in silhouette made women formidable rather than delicate, almost a precursor to the shoulder pads of the 1980s! This Beulah dress has a definite presence but the florals keep it feminine and as they work ‘fighting slavery through fashion’ the empowerment message is very much the same. Match this blue broderie dress with classic loafers for female CEO meets Jane Austen. High necks and puff sleeves: my new obsession and my favourite cultural period making a comeback just as I come home.
Contributor: Chiara Maurino