Somebody recently asked me about the Victorian trend revival and how it may evolve in seasons to come. In a previous post we have actually seen a sort of late Summer Victorian trend, but one fad clearly derived from history is the current emphasis on bizarre and puffy sleeves.
It must be said that, in the last few seasons, contemporary designers have actually been borrowing the sleeve silhouettes not strictly from Victorian designs, but from several different decades, starting from the 1820s. Sleeves were indeed the key details of Romantic dresses and they were mainly large, puffed and full.
Open any fashion dictionary and you will spot Marie sleeves (full from shoulder to wrist but with the fullness controlled by bands tied at intervals that created puff between them); gigot (French word for the back leg of an animal; this sleeve is indeed also defined "leg o'mutton") and demi-gigot sleeves (the former gradually tapered to a fitted cuff; the latter was full from the shoulder to the elbow and became fitted at the elbow and down the wrist), and idiot or imbecile sleeve (very full from shoulder to wrist where it gathered into a fitted cuff and called like that because it was supposedly based on the construction of the sleeves in the jackets used to restrain and confine the mad).
The saddest thing about this trend? Well, apart from the fact that we are not inventing anything new but borrowing from the past and endlessly remixing it, we should remember that, at times, fun terms were coined for each sleeve innovation.
When fashion critics indeed considered a style ridiculous they would come up with silly nicknames (see the "imbecile sleeves") and fashion cartoons about ridiculous styles abounded. In a nutshell, apart from not creating anything new in fashion, we are also looking back at the past for names and definition, as fantasy seems to have drained and fashion critics are too scared to call a spade a spade.
What you should do if you're crazy about the sleeve trend? Buy a vintage pattern (check out the Truly Victorian pattern series for example, there are plenty of them on Amazon) and, well, create your own fantastic sleeves, making up a name for the style you have invented. Whatever the result, you'll be more original than the rest of us, wearing tops and dresses with the "new imbecile" sleeve. What's the "new imbecile" sleeve, you're asking? The sort of silhouette favoured by somebody dressed up like in the mid-1800s but pretending to be conceptually living in the future.
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