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Eight Kinds of Bridal Sleeves

A hot trend now are accessory bridal sleeves! Many dresses are being made with sleeves of all kinds. They can also be customized or made to order by many designers. Mostly offered as detachable accessory piece, these bridal sleeve options can even give a dress two different looks. While some sleeves have traits or similarities to others, their names are still true to their basic shape. If you are looking for a bridal gown with sleeves, read on and get familiar with eight popular kinds bridal sleeves!


Madi Lane Elora lace off the shoulder sleeves
Madi Lane Elora off the shoulder sleeves

As the name suggests, this a type of sleeve that sits off the shoulder, leaving the shoulders and upper arms bare. They can vary in width, with some sleeves sitting just off the shoulder and others extending further down the arm. They can also vary in thickness. Some are lightweight illusion mesh with lace and/or beading as others can be satin-lined, for instance. These are usually customizable and will match the strapless gown. These have been trending for a few years as the bohemian bride became more mainstream in the bridal world and they definitely add a romantic and flirty element to the dress!


This sleeve typically starts at the shoulder with a gathered or pleated puff of fabric, which can be quite voluminous. As a result, the full sleeve then narrows down gradually towards the elbow or mid-forearm, where it tapers down to a fitted cuff usually with buttons for closure and detail. This can be done with a billowy effect or a heavier modern take. The overall look effect is dramatic and can add a touch of elegance and romance, or a high fashion, sleek Couture edge to a dress. (The Juliet sleeve takes its name from the famous heroine in William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet,” who is often depicted wearing dresses with this style of sleeve!)


A bishop sleeve is characterized by a long, full shape that gathers at the wrist. This type of sleeve is named after its similarity to the sleeves worn by bishops in traditional religious clothing. Typically, it starts at the shoulder with a slightly puffed or gathered design, then gradually widens towards the elbow before gathering again at the wrist. The gathered portion of this type of bridal sleeve can be quite voluminous, creating a blousy effect that adds elegance and drama to the dress. These can be made of sheer fabric or a thicker satin, whichever matches best with the dress. Lastly, the sleeve is often finished with a fitted cuff at the wrist, which helps to balance out the fullness of the rest of the sleeve. Definitely a statement piece.


A bell sleeve type flares out from the elbow or just below it, resembling the shape of a bell. This type of sleeve can add a touch of whimsy and femininity to a garment. These can vary in length, from short sleeves that just cover the elbow, to three-quarter sleeves or longer that extend past the wrist. Furthermore, they can vary in fullness, with some bell sleeves having a subtle flare. While others have a more dramatic and voluminous shape. Another trend made popular again with bohemian brides, but the sleeves were particularly popular in the 1960s and 1970s.


Beloved bohemian fit and flare lace dress with sheer flutter sleeves
Beloved flutter sleeve

A flutter sleeve is a short, loose-fitting sleeve that is characterized by its fluttery movement. Flutter sleeves can vary in length, from very short cap sleeves to longer sleeves that extend to the elbow. The sleeves are typically cut in a simple rectangular or curved shape – with no seams or shaping. This allows the fabric to drape and move freely. They can be a great choice for those looking to add some interest and movement without adding too much bulk or weight. Flutter sleeves are a popular choice with mother of the bride dresses as well.


A cap sleeve is a type of sleeve that covers the top of the shoulder but does not extend all the way down to the underarm. Cap sleeves can vary in width, with some being very narrow and others being wider and more structured. There is also an option to have a detachable cap sleeve for a change up from ceremony to reception. They lend a romantic and youthful vibe or a more modern look and are a great choice for those looking for a little more coverage but not full bridal sleeves.


A puff sleeve is characterized by a rounded, voluminous shape that is created by gathering or pleating the fabric at the top of the sleeve. These again can be lightweight and whimsical vibe or a high fashion, dramatic statement. A puff sleeve usually covers most of the upper arm, but not below the elbow. Puff sleeves were particularly popular in the 1980s. Since then they have made a comeback particularly in vintage glamour and retro-inspired styles.


Boho fitted lace up wedding dress with detachable butterfly sleeves from beloved Bridal

Typically, butterfly sleeves start just under the shoulder and have very wide openings resembling butterfly wings. This type of bridal sleeve is a romantic style and makes for lovely wedding photos! They are lightweight and do not extend past the wrist, mostly made with intricate lace patterns. They are a great choice for a vintage look or BoHo bride and are a great accessory piece for summer weddings. Overall, it is a great choice for the bride who does not want a veil as these are dramatic and billowy on their own.

We hope you learned some useful information about the different styles of Bridal sleeves. They are a fantastic accessory addition that you can customize, choose from various lengths and find your perfect wedding day look! Whether it is full illusion sleeves or detachable cap sleeves, this is a great way to add to your bridal ensemble. Create your own unique and classic look for your big day with detachable bridal sleeves!