From a designer’s point of view, sleeves can be one of the most creative components of a gown. For me, a well-designed sleeve is a work of art; it combines fabric and adornment into the overall image of the gown. I also think sleeves are the most satisfying part of a gown to work on—the actual stitching, manipulation of fabric and trim—the real character of the gown. There are probably more variations of sleeve than any other component and once you’ve decided to go with sleeves realize your possibilities are never-ending.
Besides looking beautiful, the right sleeves can add bodice appeal as well as keep your skirt or sloping shoulders in proportion. Although not foremost, keeping arms warm could be another option for wearing sleeves. Once upon a time etiquette dictated the length sleeve you could wear during winter months or time of day you got married. Fortunately, these restrictions were lifted long ago. Nowadays, you can go for long sleeves in summer, short caps in winter if that’s your desire. Be realistic though. Just make sure you have a decent wrap or stole in New York for your December wedding. As for long sleeves next July in Palm Springs, go for them. Ever since Vera Wang popularized the detachable sleeve that ties and unties from your gown’s bodice, brides still opt for them.
When choosing a sleeve, think of them in terms of having their very own silhouette within the outline of your gown as a whole. Because of the vast variation, there is on sleeves, I’ve listed only the basic sleeve silhouettes from which many other styles derive.
Clockwise: Photo 1. Bishop Sleeve--Long and full set in smoothly to the armhole, gathered at the wrist as a cuff or ruffle./// Photo 2: Bell Sleeve--Set in smoothly at the armhole, flaring into a straight across hem///Photo 3: A Bishop sleeve with Venise and tulle lace insets///Photo 4: Long Straight Sleeves: Set in and fitted sleeve extending from shoulder to wrist, offering the classic bridal look (photo by Winter Tree Studios)///Photo 5: Three Quarter Length Sleeve: Hemmed at the elbow or lower elbow (Vetter Photography)///Photo 6: Flutter Sleeve: Short ruffle usually cut on the bias this resembles an open bell sleeve with a hem falling diagonally, sometimes falling into a deep-V back. (Carlene Imagery)///Photo 7: Short: Longer than a cap sleeve, you will find examples of these on t-shirts///Photo 8: Cap: Tiny sleeves that barely cover the upper portion of the arm.