The Return of Sleeved Wedding Dresses
Back in the 1970’s, when I was a young woman and my friends were getting married, wedding dresses had long, pouffy sleeves and high necklines. Brides were covered literally from head to toe. Our perceptions of things change as time goes on and styles change, which is why when many people picture wedding dresses now, they immediately think of long, white gowns which are often strapless and heavily bejeweled. But strapless wedding dresses are actually a modern wedding dress style. Churches frowned on lots of exposed skin when marrying, which is why most wedding dresses had sleeves. While there are now many dress styles available to the bride-to-be, wedding dresses with sleeves including long sleeve wedding dresses are making a dramatic comeback.
We contribute a lot of this trend to the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Kate’s gorgeous wedding dress featured long, lace sleeves that everyone fell in love with it. The demure elegance of the dress convinced many brides to start asking for long-sleeve dresses to wear to their own weddings.
Illusion lace dresses were the closest approximation of Kate’s dress. Illusion lace gives a sexier vibe to the wedding dress without showing a lot of skin. This is perfect for fall and winter brides since the added coverage makes the dress look more weather appropriate. They’re also especially fitting for holiday weddings, due to their glamour.
However, lace sleeves weren’t the only thing that came back in style when Kate Middleton walked down the aisle. Many brides are now channeling a 1970’s, hippie vibe with off-the-shoulder dresses and bell sleeves. The drama of these dresses lends them a kind of relaxed, ethereal beauty that makes them perfect for boho weddings on the beach.
Bishop sleeves are a classic sleeve style that isn’t seen as much anymore. This sleeve style is full at the shoulder and then cuffed at the wrist, creating a lot of volume. This style was popular in dresses in the 1980’s, but the modern incarnation of bishop sleeves is much subtler. Done with lace or chiffon, the new bishop sleeves are fluttery and deeply feminine.
Another sleeve style that we’ve noticed is a combination of two popular dress styles: illusion lace and cropped dresses. The cropped wedding dress style is very playful and aimed at young, fit brides who are willing to show a bit of tummy on their wedding day. To keep the style from revealing too much skin (or looking too “clubby”), we often see long-sleeve, illusion lace tops paired with voluminous, chiffon skirts.
In the 1990’s, wedding dresses became minimalist and sleeves disappeared. However, it wasn’t long before sleeves started to sneak back in in the form of cap sleeves. These very short wedding dress sleeves have no fabric under the arm and create a sweet and feminine style. They’re often chiffon or tulle and may have embroidery or lace detail.
Short off-the-shoulder sleeve styles are also popular, especially for embroidery pieces that lay across the shoulder and upper arms and create almost the appearance of a lace tattoo. It’s a deeply romantic, opulent style that is sexy and perfect for lavish, over-the-top weddings.