Wedding Sleeves Explained

Wedding dresses with sleeves are becoming more and more common – either as part of the dress design or as a separate shrug or lace sleeved jacket that fits over the gown. After many years of strapless dresses dominating the bridalwear world, sleeves are firmly back in fashion, perhaps in part to do with Kate Middleton’s stunning sleeved royal wedding gown.

But which sleeves to choose? Your options are fairly simple, although designs obviously vary vastly between different wedding dress styles. Here are the main choices of straps and sleeves for your wedding gown:

Strapless – Strapless wedding dresses come in all shapes and sizes and styles, from vintage to ballgown to sleek sheath dresses. Great to show off your shoulders and wonderful on an hourglass figure, strapless dresses continue to be popular, and can be teamed with sleeves in the form of a separate bolero or shrug if you feel like you need something to cover your arms or need a bit of warmth as the evening goes on.

Straps – Straps can be thin spaghetti straps, wide bands, or even meet behind your neck creating a halter neck. Every design is different, and the width and placing of straps can affect how flattering a dress looks on you. Some strapless dresses also come with the option of detachable straps if you need some extra support. Experiment with what suits your body shape.

Capped – Capped sleeves are very short, slightly rounded sleeves that just cover the shoulder. This style can draw attention to your upper arms, so if they’re not your best feature you may want to consider longer sleeves instead. Capped sleeves are cute and delicate, and look fantastic on vintage or retro-style dresses.

Puff – Puff sleeves usually end at the mid-upper arm or elbow and are gathered or pleated at the shoulder to give volume to the sleeve. A little goes a long way, and a large puff sleeve can give you a bit of an 80s look. Puff sleeves are also popular with historical or medieval wedding dresses.

Tulip – These are also usually a short sleeve, created with layers of overlapping fabric to give the impression of petals, just like a tulip.

Three-quarter length – This sleeve is very flattering, ending between the elbow and the wrist. Try it in lace or a sheer fabric for an ultra-feminine look.

Full length – A snug fitting sleeve, reaching all the way to the wrist. Great for a winter wedding in a delicate, see-through fabric.

Bell – Bell sleeves also reach the wrist, but are only fitted from wrist to elbow, flaring out towards the shoulder which gives a medieval twist to this style.

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