Who could forget Anne’s fascination with the growing trend of puffed sleeves in Anne of Green Gables? She pleads with Marilla to allow her to wear them, but in typical Marilla fashion, she refuses to waste valuable material on something as frivolous as puffed sleeves. Luckily, Matthew’s soft spot for Anne results in a hilarious and touching scene where Anne receives a blue dress with the puffiest of sleeves for Christmas. In fact, the sleeves are so puffy Marilla remarks that Anne will “have to walk sideways to fit through the door.”
This moment seems to mark a transformation in Anne’s sense of fashion. By the end of the first film, Anne becomes quite a “stylish” young woman, as Marilla points out. We see this sense of fashion continue into the second film, Anne of Avonlea.
Anne can pull off so many different looks, from the Gibson Girl to the professional young schoolteacher. There are so many beautiful costumes throughout the film it’s hard for me to decide on a favourite. The pin striped blue outfit is up there (before it gets covered in mud), as well as the brown waistcoat suit.
However, on special occasions, like Diana’s wedding, Anne outshines them all with her puffed sleeves. Although the height of the puffed sleeves trend was between 1890 and 1895, they were still going strong when Anne reaches young adulthood.
But, did you know that the variation of the puffed sleeve, the Gigot sleeve, is actually a French word for the hind leg of an animal? The sleeves were actually designed to resemble an animal’s leg! To achieve this look the sleeves were wide over the arm and narrow from the elbow to the wrist. In fact, it is a very similar design to Anne’s first blue puffed sleeve dress (I might have a hard time seeing it now without imagining the hind leg of an animal).
Although still popular, the puffiness of the sleeves began to change around the turn of the century. The Gigot, along with other puffier variations such as the balloon or melon sleeves (which I’m sure you don’t need a description for), were replaced in favour of simpler cap sleeves (just covering the shoulder). That said, Anne does not forsake her puffed sleeves just yet.
She rocks multiple puffed sleeve looks in Anne of Avonlea. First, the white bridesmaid dress, and then the elegant ball gown for the hospital charity benefit. The latter is my personal favourite look for Anne. The sleeves remain puffy, but there is a little bit of shoulder exposed as the puffs fall below her shoulder instead of sitting on top of them. The neckline is embroidered with flowers while the rest of the dress is a beautiful light pink satin. Who said red heads can’t pull off pink?
Not only are these dresses visually appealing, they remain true to the historical accuracy of the Victorian and Edwardian period. Costume designer, Martha Mann, was committed to reconstructing these styles with extreme attention to detail. You can find out more about the costume design for Anne of Avonlea and the other Anne films here: https://anneofgreengables.com/special/costumes/
Don’t forget to share with us your favourite look of Anne’s in Anne of Avonlea and find more Anne fashion at Shop At Sullivan!
By Jessica Young, Sullivan Entertainment