Wedding Dress Sleeve Options

The sleeves on a wedding dress are an important element to the whole look of the dress, and different sleeve styles can change the look of your gown completely. Some sleeve options are better suited to certain types of dress silhouettes than others, so finding that perfect sleeve that not only looks good with the dress, but also on your body type, is all part of finding your dream wedding gown.

Another consideration when choosing sleeve styles and length is the time of year and time of day that your wedding is scheduled for. Cooler weather weddings will work better with certain styles, the same as summer weddings work with other styles. Same as if you live in regions that cool off in the evening, you can wear long sleeve styles without being uncomfortable.

3/4 length Sleeves

3/4 length sleeves end between the elbow and the wrist and are great choices for a wedding in any season. Three Quarter length sleeves work well on most body types due to the coverage it provides, yet the length doesn’t interfere with the hands at all and doesn’t give the bride a feeling of wanting to push her sleeves up out of the way.

If you’re having a formal wedding, 3/4 length sleeves will be perfect for your dress. They have an elegant look to them that is modern and dramatic, while still being timeless. Dresses that have 3/4 sleeves can either be full and flowing, or form fitting so you have a lot of versatility when choosing a gown. It’s a style of sleeve that works well with almost every dress silhouette.

bell sleeves

Bell Sleeves

Bell sleeves are elegant and feminine long sleeves that flare out from the shoulder towards the wrist. Though most end at wrist length, they can also end at the forearm or the elbow. Because of the fancier style of the bell sleeve, it works better with A-line silhouettes or column style dresses. The sleeves add to the dress’s formal look without overpowering the simpler style of the silhouette itself.

Bell sleeves are also a style of sleeve that works well for any body type. For someone who has slightly heavier arms the flare of the sleeve gives balance to the arm, making it look more slender but also makes a slender arm look good too. It’s a style that works well for formal and evening weddings in the cooler months. If you live in a region that is a bit cooler in the evenings during the spring and summer, this style will suit your special day as well.

Capped / Cap Sleeves

Capped sleeves are rounded and very short and baring. They work best on delicate style dresses that are simple and feminine in style. They can be made of lace or silk that match the dress exactly or be made to contrast a bit for added elegance. An example of this would be a silk dress with lace and sparkles on the bodice, with cap sleeves made of the same lace.

Cap sleeves are best suited to brides with slender arms since a lot of attention will be drawn to the upper arms due to the length and style of the sleeve. For women who are self conscious about their upper arms, this is not a style that would do much to reduce that self consciousness.

Long sleeves

Long sleeves on a wedding dress are simply fitted sleeves that go all the way down to the wrist. This style sleeve works on any body type due to the full coverage the sleeves provide and is best suited for winter and fall weddings.

The sleeves can be made of the same material as the dress, such as silk or taffeta, or can be made solely out of lace. The difference between long sleeves and some of the other long sleeve styles such as Juliet is that the sleeves are usually fitted all the way down rather than having any kind of ballooning or pouf at the top.

off the shoulder sleeves neckline

Off-the-shoulder Sleeves

Off the shoulder style sleeves leave the shoulder bare and cover the upper arm. In addition to leaving the shoulders bare, the sleeves of an off the shoulder design can be short, cap or long. The difference is that the shoulders are bare. This style of sleeve works well with all dress silhouettes and is a popular style for brides who want a sexier, yet elegant look.

This is a beautiful style that fits spring and summer weddings and are suited to any body type because the upper arm is covered which is usually a spot of concern for larger body types.

poet sleeves

Poet Sleeves

Poet sleeve styles are very dramatic and are fitted from the shoulder to the forearm where it flares out. The flare is usually ruffled, and is either made of the same material as the rest of the sleeve or a contrasting fabric such as lace. The poet sleeve is very romantic and feminine and is well suited to weddings at any time of day or evening.

Due to the long length of the sleeve and the flare, this style is more comfortable during cooler temperatures. This style works well with any body type and can balance a heavier upper arm with the flare at the forearm. This style sleeve works well on dresses that have more of an A line design due to the dramatic look of the flared sleeve.

juliet sleeves

Juliet Sleeves

This is another sleeve style that is great for cooler weather, as well as more formal evening weddings. The Juliet sleeve is a very feminine style which is puffed out around the top part of the arm and then is fitted down to the wrist. Due to the full coverage of the sleeve, this is a style that looks good with most any body type. It also works wonderfully on full, princess style silhouettes as well as the sleeker, more elegant and fitted styles such as a column style dress.

Pouf/Balloon sleeves

This style sleeve is short and is very full at the shoulder. This style works well with full skirted gowns that have a more fitted bodice. The short puffy sleeves work well in the spring and summer due to its minimal coverage of the arm.

A bride that has a larger frame may want to avoid this style because the puffed sleeves can make the shoulders look very broad and wide. This isn’t usually a look brides want to have. A small or slight frame can carry off this look much easier.

Short sleeves

Short sleeves on a wedding gown are usually the length of a t shirt and can be made of the same material as the rest of the gown, or be made of lace. They are comfortable and give a more casual look to the gown. The silhouette of a short sleeve dress can be formfitting and elegant or loose and more outdoorsy. Short sleeves don’t usually work well with a very full, princess style gown due to the simple look of the sleeves not matching the rest of the dress.

The short sleeve wedding gown works well on small to medium body types due to the sleeve cutting off at mid upper arm. This draws attention to the upper arm, so anyone who wants to camouflage their arms should look to a longer sleeve style.


Sleeveless gowns, also called strapless are the most chosen style among brides today. It is elegant, sexy yet modest, and works for any time of year or time of day. If your wedding is in the evening or in the cooler months, there are wraps that a bride can get that matches her gown that will give her some added coverage for warmth. If the wedding is outdoors, then choosing a sleeveless gown would be a better choice in the warmer months.

This sleeveless style leaves the shoulders and arms bare so for brides that don’t want to show too much skin, this wouldn’t be a good choice. Brides who have issues with their upper arms will also want to choose another style sleeve due to the more revealing style.

Spaghetti straps/sleeves

The spaghetti style sleeve is very baring with tiny little straps that go over the shoulder. This is a style that is well suited for spring and summer weddings whether inside or outdoors. Spaghetti style sleeves are mostly seen on more form fitting gowns with a flowing skirt. They are also a great choice for the bride who wants a simpler, more casual style gown.

For anyone who has issues with their arms, this is not the style that will make you happy. Because there is NO coverage, this is a great style for those who work out and want to show off their hard work, or have slender arms.

Illusion sleeves

Illusion sleeves are feminine and romantic and offer coverage while still letting the skin of the arms show. This style sleeve gets its name from having the illusion of sleeves while still being able to see the arm. Illusion sleeves look fantastic with lace overlays or even beads and other “bling” that can fancy them up.

The illusion sleeve works well with any style gown, but is most often seen on the form fitting or mermaid style designs that hug the body. Due to the sheer coverage, it’s a style that works well for any body type as long as the sleeve fits correctly and doesn’t bind. Due to the sheer material, a sleeve that is too tight will show that it is too tight. Illusion sleeves are good choices for spring evening weddings where there is still a bit of a chill in the air at night.

Petal sleeves

Petal sleeves get their name from the fact that they resemble the petals of a flower. The can be very short petal sleeves that stop at the upper arm, or they can be longer petal sleeves that reach the elbow. The two pieces of the sleeve overlap the arm. This is a fantastic style for anyone that has a larger arm because it offers coverage that many of the other styles don’t offer without requiring them to have long sleeves. It’s a beautiful, elegant look.

This is a style that works wonderfully on the short wedding gowns that are growing in popularity. It can also look good on the looser, more flowing styles of gowns, making it a great choice for an outdoorsy look.

Bishop sleeves

A very hippie or bohemian style sleeve is the bishop sleeve. This is a sleeve that is gathered at the wrist and the rest of the sleeve is puffed out. The sleeves can be sheer or lace but are more commonly sheer. This is a very dream-like style of sleeve and is typically on a more flowing style gown.

This sleeve is great for outdoor weddings in any season and works for all body types due to the coverage it provides. A bride that is larger may want to avoid this style due to the puffed style and loose gown style. On a larger frame, a more fitted gown and sleeve will make them look more slender.

fitted pointed sleeves

Fitted Point sleeves

The fitted point style sleeve is full length and fitted and ends in a point that comes down over the hand. This gives the dress a very elegant look that is perfect for evening and formal weddings. This style works well with most dress silhouettes and also for any body type. While fitted sleeves can sometimes emphasize larger upper arms, the point of the sleeve over the hand elongates the arm and gives it a more slender look.

Fitted point sleeves can either be made of silk, lace or sheer material. In some cases, it may be a combination of materials such as sheer material down the arm and lace over the hand. Because of the long sleeves, this style sleeve is better suited to cooler months.

Jacket sleeves

There are many wedding dress styles now that offer a jacket that goes with the dress. This style is typically seen with a strapless gown and the short style wedding gowns, and is a great way to add coverage to a more revealing dress. It also makes a strapless style gown work in any season due to the extra coverage the jacket provides.

The jacket style works for any body type and can give a bride with a larger frame the chance to wear a strapless gown without feeling self conscious about her arms. The jackets are usually made to match the gown with similar beading and lace embellishments as the skirt of the gown. This is also a popular style among older brides over 50.