Bride Tugging on wedding dress sleeve

Wedding Dress Sleeves (Pics + Inspo)

For a while, sleeveless and strapless wedding dresses really dominated bridal fashion. However, over recent years, sleeves have come back into style in a big way.

Wedding dress from Oscar de la Renta's first bridal collection in 2006

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With so many sleeve options, the choice can be overwhelming. Let’s look at the most common types of wedding dress sleeves and how to choose the right sleeves for you.

What Are My Sleeve Style Options?

Beautiful bride wearing flutter sleeves

Flutter Sleeves

Flutter sleeves are usually short or mid-length, flared sleeves made from lightweight materials like lace or chiffon.

Bride in sun with loose sleeves

Bell Sleeves

Bell sleeves flare out at the bottom, giving them a dramatic medieval flavor. Bell sleeves are typically long.

Bride having fun on wedding day

Poet Sleeves

Poet sleeves are wide and billowy through the arm, then gather snug at the opening, usually with a ruffle at the end. Poet sleeves are generally mid to full-length.

Bride having fun outdoors

Bishop Sleeves

Bishop sleeves are much like poet sleeves – wide and gathered at the opening, only with a cuff at the end instead of a ruffle. Bishop sleeves are typically full-length.

bride posing for photos in Garden

Puff Sleeves

Puff sleeves are typically short or mid-length sleeves that offer a lot of roundish-volume.

Bride getting ready for reception

Fitted Sleeves

Fitted sleeves are slender and lay close to the arm. The most popular fitted sleeves are full-length, like the sleeves on Kate Middleton’s wedding gown.

Bride posing for pictures with mutton sleeves

Mutton Sleeves

Mutton sleeves feature a lot of volume at the shoulder and upper arm, then taper off to a fitted sleeve at the wrist. Most mutton sleeves are full-length.

tulip wedding dress sleeve

Tulip Sleeves

Tulip sleeves usually feature overlapping pieces of fabric that look almost like petals. Typically, tulip sleeves are cap or short-length.

Which Sleeves Are Right for Me?

Consider the Weather

No one wants to be uncomfortable on their wedding day. Remember to consider the weather and even the temperature inside your venues when looking at sleeve options. Full-length brocade sleeves may be a bit much in the middle of summer, and sheer chiffon bishop sleeves may not be warm enough in the dead of winter.

Consider Your Setting

Some religions or cultures don’t allow bare shoulders or exposed arms. Remember to check whether your venue has any wedding gown guidelines to avoid potential issues on your big day.

Consider Your Body 

Many women carry weight in their arms, which can be a source of insecurity. Fitted sleeves may draw attention to any extra bulk in the arm area. At the same time, poet sleeves may make your arms look even larger.

A safe bet is to try sleeves that balance out the size of the upper arms. Bell sleeves are wider at the bottom, and bishop sleeves are often narrower at the top, making them excellent camouflage choices.

See also: finding the ideal wedding dress for your body type.

brides with long sleeves posing on bridge

You Decide What Looks Beautiful On You

You can choose to follow the “rules” for what looks good on you, or you can ignore them completely – there is no wrong answer. As long as your dress makes you feel beautiful, confident, and excited to say I do, you’ve succeeded.