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Giant Poofy Sleeves
Ursula could fit in one of those.

These sleeves are almost as poofy as my hair.

Sleeves with puffs on or just below the shoulders have been a part of women's clothing, and even men's, since at least the late 15th century, and could get fairly large, like the sleeves on this dress.

Yet during the late 19th century, came the "leg of mutton" sleeves, which were shoulder puffs injected with growth hormones. These balloons, most popular during The Gay Nineties and the 1900's, were just huge. Today, they are usually seen in wedding dresses, but do show up in other places. Armor over the shoulders has a similar shape.

The surest way to tell if it's this trope is if the wearer's head could fit in one of those sleeves (not counting her hair).

Often part of a Pimped-Out Dress, especially a Fairytale Wedding Dress. Yet it's not limited to those. Some outfits put it on sweaters, coats, and even a Leotard of Power.

Compare Shoulders of Doom, '80s Hair, Giant Waist Ribbon, Mega Twintails.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 

     Comic Books  

  • In a rare superhero example, The DCU's Firestorm wears poofy sleeves.
  • Psylocke of the X-Men started her super-heroic career filling in for her brother as Captain Britain. Her version of the costume featured red, white and blue hair and seriously giant poofy sleeves. She kept the sleeve theme in her first X-Men costume; sadly, they later fell victim to practicality, when she switched to body armour.

    Film 

  • In Enchanted, Giselle's wedding dress has absolutely colossal leg of mutton poofs, which is an Affectionate Parody of some of the Disney Princess dresses.
  • In Napoleon Dynamite, Deb's prom dress has huge, homemade balloons on each arm, prompting Napoleon's famous chat-up line "I like your sleeves. They're real big".
  • Sarah's dress in Labyrinth, a glittering ball gown with some of the biggest, poofiest sleeves ever and a skirt you couldn't get through a standard door.
  • Glinda in the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz.
  • In State Fair, Margy wears so many dresses with poofy sleeves, one of the speakers of the DVD Commentary for the 60th Anniversary Edition lampshades it.

    Literature 

  • In Anne of Green Gables, Anne longs for a dress with fashionable puffed sleeves, which her practical guardian Marilla refuses to give her, believing them to be a frivolous waste of fabric. When Marilla's shy brother Matthew goes to the trouble of ordering a dress as a gift for Anne, he remembers the puffed sleeves, and Anne is ecstatic - Marilla somewhat less so. "You'll have to turn sideways to go through a door!" In later books, after the fashions have changed, Anne still looks back fondly on puffed sleeves, perhaps in part because of the association with the first truly pretty clothes she'd ever had. View the TV miniseries' version of the dress here.
  • The Last Hero played with these; Leonard da Quirm's giant poofy shoulders were used as emergency air storage in his astrochelonaut's suit.

     Live Action TV  
  • In Seinfeld: "I Don't Wanna Be A Pirate!"
  • Glee episode "Theatricality", Kurt wears Giant Poofy Sleeves perhaps combined with Shoulders of Doom
  • Blake of Blake's 7 tended to have sleeves that could double as sails. Between that and Avon's indecently-tight leather, this led to plenty of costume jokes.
  • The 1999 BBC mini-series of Wives and Daughters is set during the Romantic Era (though the book was written in the 1860s) and most definitely features Giant Poofy Sleeves in some of the fancier gowns.
  • For a season of America's Next Top Model, Miss Jay Alexander's sleeves got bigger each episode. Finally resulting in this.
  • This design by Kenley Collins for a Season 5 episode of Project Runway.
  • The leg-of-mutton is mentioned in Downton Abbey; when the Dowager Countess runs into her niece arguing with her daughter Rose about the latter's rather risque fashion choices, she sides with the young woman, saying that what she wore in her day (the 1860s) was the period equivalent of Rose's dress:
    Violet: Oh, my dear, in my day I wore the crinoline, the bustle, and the leg-of-mutton sleeves; I am not in a strong position to criticize.'
    • We should note here that the leg-of-mutton was at the time considered an enhancement to the bust, and that the crinoline and bustle emphasised feminine curves, especially the posterior ones (the bustle in particular had little purpose other than to make the woman's arse more attractive).
  • Up The Women - This is given as one of the reasons why women cannot vote - their sleeves would get caught in the ballet boxes.
  • Nyssa, one of the companions of Doctor Who, wore poofy sleeves with her shirt and fur-trimmed jacket.

    Pinball 
  • Seen on Glinda the Good Witch's dress in Jersey Jack Pinball's The Wizard of Oz, both on the sides of the cabinet and in her video clips.

    Toys 
  • Barbie has quite a few dresses with these.
    • Jeweled Splendor is a dress with black elbow-length sleeves that are each just a huge, almost spherical puff.

     Tabletop games  
  • In Warhammer Fantasy Battles, the empire army is filled with this kind of sleeves (though they are almost always poofy they are not always gigantic).

     Video Games  
  • Samus' Varia suit in Metroid (overlapping with Shoulders of Doom). Sure the suit is one of the most Badass video game outfits ever, but look at the shoulders. They're each as big as her head. With her helmet on. They were created for the sprites in Metroid 2: Return of Samus on the Game Boy, since the original game showed the Varia suit with a Palette Swap, which wasn't a reasonable option this time.
  • Princess Peach has those on her dresses.
  • Rival Schools' Yurika Kirishima has these on her school uniform.
  • This among the few costume tropes that sees little use in the Touhou series, and is understated when it does show up. However, the two characters that do possess it (Cirno and occasionally Marisa) are among the most popular.
  • Kuja from Final Fantasy IX. Slightly twisted in that Kuja was male.
  • Franziska von Karma in the Ace Attorney series has a very fetching pair of poofy sleeves.
  • A rare male example The Engineer in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood has huge, poofy sleeves. While not as extreme as other examples, they are still huge and extravagant, when the idea of the game is to not draw attention to yourself.
  • In Disney Princess Enchanted Journey, Zara has these on her princess dress.

     Visual Novels  
  • In Fate/stay night, Saber has a bit of this going on with her combat outfit.
    • Not just Saber. Hisui's gloriously poofy shoulders make the Meido all the more loveable.

     Web Original  

     Western Animation  

     Real Life  

  • Princess Diana's wedding dress. It somehow managed to look slightly more frumpy than poofy, and she said she hoped the moths had gotten to it.
  • In the 16th century, the closest to the leg-of-mutton sleeve were the sleeves in men's gowns (which would be called jackets today). See this picture of Henry VIII.
    • The style is generally known as slash and puff and was extremely popular in the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries. Notably the Landschnekt Swiss mercenary companies wore clothing in that style. This might have been to show off their wealth (the Bling of War effect) and thus how successful they were as mercenaries and so impress potential employers. It could also have the effect of making them look more imposing and powerfully built since the puffs were focused around key muscle groups (Biceps and forearms, thighs, shoulders). In that respect the tropes modern associations with femininity are completely subverted.
    • The style is still worn by the Swiss Guard at the Vatican.
  • One 15th century style that quickly fell out of favour was to have sleeves so large they weren't actually usable as sleeves; instead, a hole about halfway down would allow the arms to stick out. By sealing off the ends of these false sleeves, one thus had effectively a pair of very large pockets. For this reason the style became disregarded as being an aid to larceny.
  • Similar perhaps in effect as the slash and puff of historical fashion, in the modern day we have bomber jackets, which feature as part of the trademark attire of nightclub bouncers.
  • The members of Dream Theater wore silk shirts with positively huge poofy sleeves in the photo shoots and music videos for Images and Words in 1992.
  • Leg-of-mutton sleeves, as noted above, were wildly popular in women's dress, particularly evening dress, in the 1890's and 1900's. The cartoonist Charles Dana Gibson drew several cartoons making fun of this style; A Little Story - By A Sleeve is an excellent, and quite amusing, example.


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