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Wedding Dress Sleeve Style Guide

After the Royal Wedding, sleeves reappeared in the wedding world in a huge way. From long, elegant lace sleeves to romantic, delicate cap details, sleeves on bridal gowns are here to stay. So today, we thought we’d break down the eight most popular styles in a user-friendly wedding dress sleeve style guide so that you can get an idea of looks that you love before you step into a boutique to start trying on bridal gowns!

Check out graphic below to determine what sleeve style you believe suits you best, and read further for an in-depth description of each style. Be sure to check out our previous posts about wedding dress neckline styles and silhouettes, too!

Source for photos used in mood board.

Strapless Bridal Gowns
Strapless gowns, usually with a sweetheart or straight-across neckline, are exactly as they sound — strapless! The dress will end above the bust and have no fabric at the shoulder. Strapless gowns are incredibly popular because they come in a variety of silhouettes and are almost universally flattering.

Spaghetti Strap Wedding Dress
Gowns with spaghetti straps will have very thin straps with no sleeves at all. This style — typically seen in ball gowns or dresses with an empire waist — is timeless and classic, and perfect for brides who want something close to the strapless look with a little more support.

Wedding Dress Strap Sleeves
Picture your favorite tank top — that’s about the width of the straps in this style. Bridal gowns with straps provide more support and coverage than a spaghetti-strapped or strapless gown. This style is popular with sleek, v-neck gowns and a-line dresses.

Sleeveless Bridal Gowns
Often confused with strapless gowns, sleeveless gowns are actually more similar to those with straps. A sleeveless dress features wide straps over the shoulders to hold it in place, providing more coverage than simple straps. This look is most commonly seen in gowns with halter and bateau necklines.

Cap Sleeves Wedding Dress
Cap sleeves come in a variety of styles — from flat or ruffled to fluttered or puffed — and cover just the uppermost portion of the shoulder. In general, cap sleeves are rounded and attached only to the top of the gown, so that there is no fabric underneath the arm. Cap sleeves are one of the most popular sleeve options these days, because they provide just the right amount of coverage and add a dash of demure romanticism.

Short Sleeve Gowns
A short-sleeved gown will have sleeves similar in length to a t-shirt — they’ll end about halfway between the shoulder and the elbow. The sleeve will surround the arm completely, and, as with cap sleeves, will come in many styles, including flat and puffed.

Three-Quarter Sleeve Dresses
A three-quarter-length sleeve will fall a few inches below the elbow. This style was originally popular in the early 1950s and 60s, but has made a comeback with the resurgence of vintage-inspired designs. Bell sleeves, which are fitted near the shoulder and then dramatically flare out at the bottom edge, are typically three-quarter-length.

Long Sleeve Wedding Dresses
Gowns with long sleeves will feature fabric that reaches to, or slightly beyond, the bride’s wrist. The sleeves can be simple, straight and fitted, or more formal — some even have detailed fabric that comes to a point over the back of the hand. Long and three-quarter length styles are also popular for lace shrugs and other overlays for more conservative, traditional ceremonies that can be removed for the wedding reception.

Source for photos used in mood board. 

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