Types of Wedding Gown Sleeves and How to Choose (w/ Photos of Sleeve Styles)

Why should you bother to know the different types of wedding gown sleeves?  Simple – because not every sleeve style looks good on everyone, and you should look perfect in every part of your wedding gown, including the sleeves.  You need to also know that there are different types and styles of long sleeves in wedding gowns, as well as different types of short sleeves.  Knowing that you have many style options will enable you to choose the best type of sleeves for your bridal dress.  In this post, I will tell and show you (pictures) of the different names of popular wedding gown sleeve styles, and explain more so you can choose the one that’s right for you:

types wedding gown sleeves styles

Photo Credit: @s67studios/ Instagram

Names of the Different Wedding Dress Sleeves Styles

This post is part of our wedding gowns buying guide.  As part of the process for figuring out the right dress for you, it is important to choose the wedding gown style that suits your body shape, while keeping in mind to choose the right sleeve for you.  Below are the 7 different types of wedding gown sleeves.  Keep reading to figure out the best sleeve style for you.

1. Strapless Wedding Gowns and Who is it For?

Strapless wedding gowns are just that, strap-less = no straps and no sleeves. The type of wedding dress sits horizontally on the chest.  The top (bodice or blouse part) of the gown ends on the chest area, with the bust holding the bodice in place. According to trusty Wikipedia, “a strapless dress is an outfit that stays put around the upper body without shoulder straps or other visible means of support”.   Strapless wedding gowns have tight-fitting bodice (or blouse part), which prevents the gown from shifting away or falling off the bust area.

Suitable For: If you’re flat chested or very busty or have flabby or very fat arms, this style of wedding dress may not suit you – as it would highlight or make your chest size and arms obvious and the center of attention.  With that said, the strapless wedding dresses are very popular among Nigerian brides. 

Styling Tip: To look your best in this wedding dress, get a very good bra or corset, especially if you’re busty. 

RELATEDHow to Choose: Best Wedding Gown for Your Body Shape (Buying Guide)

2. Spaghetti Straps Wedding Gowns and Who is it For?

This type of sleeves are skinny, spaghetti-like straps around the upper part of the shoulders.  Spaghetti straps wedding gowns do not have sleeves attached.  Since wedding dresses with this sleeves style exposes a lot of upper arm skin, it is not ideal for women who are shy of exposing or baring their arms. 

Suitable For: These type of sleeveless wedding dresses are suitable for brides with buffed-up (toned) upper arms. 

3. T-Shirt Sleeves Wedding Dresses and Who is it For?

As the name indicates, this style of sleeves are short and resemble those of a T-shirt.  Wedding gowns with T-shirt sleeves have short sleeves that stop way before the elbow.  Some simply refer to this style of sleeves as “short sleeves”, but since there are other types of short sleeves, it helps to differentiate them by their names.  Note that T-shirt sleeves are not the same as the three-quarter length sleeves, as they are shorter in length than the 3/4 sleeves.

Suitable For: Because wedding gowns with T-Shirt sleeves sleeves does not show the skin of the top arms, this is one of the wedding dress sleeves great for modest brides who prefer to cover their arms.

SEE: Latest Wedding Gowns Nigerian Brides Wore (Pictures)

4. Cap Sleeves Wedding Dresses and Who is it For?

This is another type of short sleeves wedding gown, but the sleeves in this one is shorter than the T-shirt sleeves which I described above.  As the name implies, this type of sleeves have rounded caps of small fabric that ‘caps’ the top arm, near the shoulders.  The cap of the sleeves sit at the area where the arm starts from the shoulder.

The length of the cap sleeves in this wedding gown style are much shorter than those of T-shirt sleeves style dress.  Therefore, this type of dress sleeves exposes plenty of the arm area.  In cap sleeves, the sleeves are so short and barely-there that the dress looks almost sleeve-less.  You cannot mistake a cap sleeved wedding gown, once you see  very short sleeves capping roundly to the upper arm area of the shoulder.

Suitable For: Cap sleeved wedding dresses are suitable for women who have toned, not-so-fat upper arms and want to show it.   If you are not comfortable showing your arms, the wedding gowns with cap sleeves are not for you.

RELATED17 Wedding Gown Shopping Tips to Save Time and Money

5. Three-Quarter Length Sleeves Wedding Dresses and Who is it For?

Here, the sleeves are neither short nor long, and longer than the T-shirt sleeves style.  In a 3/4 sleeves wedding gown, the fabric ends in the middle of the arms, anywhere between the elbow and the wrist.  This style of sleeves are also referred to as elbow-length sleeves, although some three-quarter sleeves are very slightly longer than the elbow (and clearly not full length sleeves).

Wedding dresses with 3/4 sleeves are suitable for women who are not comfortable showing their arm skin and prefer to cover it.

6. Long Sleeve Wedding Dresses and Who is it For?

Unlike the 3/4 sleeves, here the wedding dress has a full length sleeves that extend down to the wrist.  Long sleeve wedding dresses are a favourite of the royal brides – both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle wore long sleeve wedding dresses.

Long sleeve wedding gowns are for women who want to cover their arms, either by preference or out of modesty.

7. Off-The-Shoulder Sleeves Wedding Gowns and Who is it For?

As the name implies, this type of sleeves hangs down below the shoulder top or on the upper arms, as if the straps or sleeves are falling off from the shoulders.  In pictures of brides wearing off-the-shoulder wedding gowns, you can see the sleeves or straps sitting parallel to her collarbone, yet grips the top of the wedding gown so well that it’s impossible to fall off.  In wedding gowns with off-the-shoulder sleeves, the delicate and covers part of the upper arms and exposes the top of the shoulders.

RELATED5 Things You Must Know Before Buying Your Wedding (to Avoid Costly Mistakes)

In this type of sleeves, your neck, top of your chest, shoulders and upper arm skin are exposed.  Therefore, if you’re shy of showing your arms, wedding gowns with off-shoulder sleeves are not for you.

8. Detachable Sleeves Wedding Gowns

This is not really a sleeve style, but refers to removable sleeves, that offer a great way to convert a “not-so-modest” wedding gowns to a perfect covered-up, modest one.  That is a very popular trick among Nigerian brides, since most church/ religious weddings in Nigeria do not permit brides to wear wedding gowns that expose a lot of the chest skin or arms.  The detachable sleeves are taken off after the religious wedding ceremony, and the wedding gown is worn to the reception strapless.

Detachable sleeves wedding gowns come in any of sleeve (long, short, capped etc.), only that they can be detached when needed.

Why Detachable Sleeves Wedding Gowns are loved by Stylish Nigerian Brides: Here, many religious houses forbid brides to wear wedding gowns that expose lots of skin around the chest and arms, and Nigerian brides found a way around it with add-on detachable sleeves that can be removed during their wedding reception party (so that their wedding dress is worn strapless or sleeveless, as was originally designed).  Since not every wedding gown comes with a set of detachable sleeves, some brides buy ready-made detachable sleeves or have a neighbourhood tailor make one for them.

Conclusion: Go Find Your Favourite Wedding Gown Sleeve Style

Like other women dresses, the sleeves of wedding gowns come in different styles and cuts, and every style has a name to identify it.  And there are more styles of short-sleeve wedding gowns, different types of long-sleeve wedding gowns and different types of sleeveless wedding dresses.  Now that you know the options, and who each type of wedding dress sleeves is suitable for, I am sure you have now figured out the right sleeves styles for your wedding gown.

That’s it on the different types of wedding gown sleeves. Now that you know them, comment to tell me your favourite sleeves style.

About Stella Anokam

Stella is the founder and Editor of this blog (NaijaGlamWedding). Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Submit your photos to be featured - it's FREE, because we love everything weddings, bridal showers, engagement shoots.

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