Sleeves Are Back in Wedding Style

A relatively recent change to the wedding dress industry is the presence of sleeves, after years of strapless ball gowns dominating the market. This is in large part to 2011’s royal wedding. When Prince William married Kate Middleton and she became the Duchess of Cambridge, the bridal industry all turned their eyes to the wedding to see where wedding trends would go.

Royal and celebrity weddings influence designers and advertisers and have a lasting effect on wedding traditions. One of the big ways that brides have emulated the Duchess’ style is by taking cues from her dress — often by wearing lace long sleeves. Many brides feel fashionable and confident with this change and it’s a great step for the bridal fashion industry to provide this option.

Duchess Kate’s Dress

Trendsetter Duchess Kate’s dress was was designed by Sarah Burton, the Creative Director for the Alexander McQueen fashion house. To preserve the secrecy of the design, the embroiderers who worked on the stunning lace were told that the gown was to be worn for a television costume drama. The dress was Victorian inspired, cut to emphasize a small waist and padded for full hips with a bustle to the back. Perhaps the most significant detail of the dress in terms of the fashion industry are the long lace sleeves of the gown.

Options For Everyone

Looking through advertising and the dresses found on mannequins in shops, the dominant style that most brides see are strapless ball gowns. These dresses are beautiful, but they don’t suit all brides’ figures or sense of style. Sleeves becoming fashionable again is great for providing more options to brides. Lace sleeves are great for modest brides who want more coverage or are getting married in a formal church that may have requirements regarding how much skin can be exposed.

Plus size brides may also feel more comfortable with having their arms covered by pretty sleeves, especially if they don’t often wear strapless or sleeveless tops in day to day life. Oftentimes when women want more coverage they opt for coverups: boleros or white furs which can work well but often end up covering details of the dress’s bodice or might not create an overall cohesive look. Dresses designed with sleeves can look much more intentional- less like you’re attempting to cover something up.


Most silhouettes of wedding gown can work with sleeves. Mermaid gowns with tight fitting sleeves can add to the drama of the fullness of the bottom of the gown. Classic ball gowns can have a princess-vibe similar to the Duchess’s aesthetic. Even short dresses can work with long sleeves- a flirty skirt balanced by a layer of sheer lace on top works well for informal weddings or elopements.

Whether you just like the look of sleeves or you have a reason you feel more comfortable covering up, long sleeved wedding gowns are back in style, thanks to a real princess. Enjoy your trip wedding shopping — and the fact that sleeves are adding a little more variety in what was a sea of strapless white ball gowns.

Keep an eye on Fan C’s collection of bridal wear for possible long sleeve options in the future!

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