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Giant Poofy Sleeves

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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 hormonesnote . These balloons, most popular during the 1830s, and again during The Gay '90s and the early 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.


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    Anime & Manga 

    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.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Bram Stoker's Dracula, several of the wardrobe had these in keeping with the decade. One of the most standouts being Lucy's wedding (and later funeral) dress which is poofy around the sleeves.
  • In Crimson Peak, Edith wears ballgowns and day dresses and travelling gowns and even nightgowns with big puffy sleeves, all full of lace and translucent. According to the director and costume designer, they are supposed to fit in with her butterfly motif by resembling chrysalises.
  • 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.
  • Sarah's dress, in the dream sequence in Labyrinth, is a glittering ball gown with some of the biggest, poofiest sleeves ever and a skirt you couldn't get through a standard door.
  • One of Joan Crawford's dresses in Letty Lynton, designed by Hollywood costumer Adrian, consists of frilly puff sleeves. The dress with its sleeves, according to fashion historians, was copied all over the country and has influenced much of the silhouettes in 1930s and 1940s fashion.
  • 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."
  • Palpatine has several outfits with this throughout the Star Wars prequels, and also in the Clone Wars cartoon.
  • 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.
  • Glinda in the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz.

  • 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 
  • For a season of America's Next Top Model, Miss Jay Alexander's sleeves got bigger each episode. Finally resulting in this.
  • In Anne with an E, these are the latest fashion and Anne nearly cries with happiness when Matthew gets her a dress with them on.
  • 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.
  • In one episode of Call the Midwife, Nurse Lee is seconded to the London Hospital, and has to wear the hospital’s nursing uniform (rather than her more practical district nursing uniform), which includes poofy shoulders. The creators have discussed how the poofy shoulders actually made filming more difficult, as they would obscure the actresses’ faces if the blocking and camera angles weren’t planned carefully.
  • Nyssa, one of the companions of Doctor Who, wore poofy sleeves with her shirt and fur-trimmed jacket.
  • 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.
  • Friends:
    • A flashback to Monica and Rachel's prom night, which took place in the late 80s, shows us that Rachel's prom dress had a massive pair of these sleeves. They keep slipping off her shoulders prompting her to ask Ross, who's secrectly in love with her, to check the hook that's supposed to hold them together.
    • In the second season finale Rachel is acting as Maid of Honor at Barry and Mindy's wedding. The bridesmaid dress she's forced to wear has these along with being neon pink and having a huge poofy skirt to match.
  • Gentleman Jack: Since it takes place in the 1830s, a peak giant poofy sleeve era, many of the women on the series have ridiculous but historically accurate giant poofy sleeves.
  • Glee episode "Theatricality", Kurt wears Giant Poofy Sleeves perhaps combined with Shoulders of Doom
  • This design by Kenley Collins for a Season 5 episode of Project Runway.
  • On Schitt's Creek more than one of Moira Rose's sculptural day dresses has big puffy sleeves.
  • In Seinfeld: "I Don't Wanna Be A Pirate!"
  • In an episode of Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, In one episode, Sharon is forced to wear a hideous bridesmaids dress with giant poofy sleeves. At the end of the episode, as she is lamenting that she will be stuck in the dress all night, Johnny performs some Rip Tailoring by tearing off the sleeves and converting into a quite nice cocktail dress.
  • Up the Women - This is given as one of the reasons why women cannot vote - their sleeves would get caught in the ballet boxes.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 
  • Space 1889 gigot-sleeves, also called leg-o-mutton sleeves, are the height of fashion in 1889. You see plenty of them in the illsutrations.
  • 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 
  • 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
  • Final Fantasy IX:
  • Samus Aran's 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 II: 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.
  • Rival Schools' Yurika Kirishima has these on her school uniform.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Princess Peach, Pink Gold Peach and Princess Daisy have them on their dresses.
  • This is 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.
  • Yes, Your Grace: The most expensive wedding dress option for Lorsulia has big puffy sleeves around the shouders. They contribute to the excessive garnish the dress is considered to have by other characters.

    Visual Novels 
  • Franziska von Karma in the Ace Attorney series has a very fetching pair of poofy sleeves.
  • The school uniforms in AIR have this sort of sleeve, although it's more muted than some examples.
  • Fate/stay night: Saber has a bit of this going on with her combat outfit.
  • Tsukihime: Hisui's gloriously poofy shoulders make the Meido all the more loveable.

    Western Animation 
  • Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time has these on her 'princess' dresses. Her Gender Flip counterpart Prince Gumball has these too in his suit, and are actually more poofy than Bubblegum's!
  • In Steven Universe, Garnet has these in all of her outfits, combined with her Shoulders of Doom.
    • As a result, many of her fusions have large puffs as well as their Shoulders of Doom, like Sugilite, Sardonyx, and Alexandrite.
    • We know that Garnet gets her sleeves from Sapphire, who has big, puffy sleeves on her dress, and she's been shown to have them since she met Ruby 5750 years ago.
    • Padparadscha, another Sapphire, also has these. It seems to be the default outfit among Gems of her kind.
    • Pink Diamond was shown to have these in her first appearance in "Jungle Moon." Pearl also had them when the war on Earth started.
    • Spinel has these in both her previous form, in which they were rounded, and her current form, in which they are more pointed.

    Real Life 
  • 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.
  • 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 Landsknecht 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.
  • From the late 1820's to the mid 1830's, sleeves for women became huge and fell off-shoulder in reaction against the columnar Regency fashions and in response to the innovations of the Industrial Revolution and the aesthetics of Romanticism. Following the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837, the sleeves gradually dropped to the lower arms before completely deflating around 1840.
  • 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.
    • This style is still seen in some academic robes, e.g. the NIC Master's Gown.
  • When Lady Diana got married to the Prince of Wales, her dress includes large poofy sleeves, to go with the mid 19th century cut of the gownnote 
  • 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.
  • Dresses with puffy shoulders remain popular among women in the Philippines. Imelda Marcos was particularly fond of the look.


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