Kate Middleton, likely the most iconic bride in our generation, is pretty much single-handedly responsible for ushering in the age of the sleeve. From sheer to dense lace, these sleeves make you wonder why you would ever consider going strapless. Not only are sleeves more practical this time of year, but they can often help with the proportions and style of a wedding dress. Above, this knee-length dress (appropriate for either a wedding or a reception dress) is unexpectedly modern thanks to its cream lace sleeves.
Brides who want to wear shorter dresses often favor sleeves to feel more "covered up" during the traditional ceremony. In the cases of the two dresses above, sleeves help the dresses feel more bridal and less cocktail party. On the right, this daring keyhole back might feel a little too nontraditional for some brides if it were sleeveless.
If, however, you want to amp up the sultriness of your sleeves, employ an off-the-shoulder neckline. These "faux" sleeves (below, left) look like something created by a very sexy, very modern Jane Austen character. On the right, this ballgown dress already has plenty of volume, so why not go with off-the-shoulder to lighten up the overall look?
If you don't want to have full-length sleeves, or you would prefer to wear gloves, consider dresses with sleeves either just above or below the elbow (otherwise known as a 3/4 length sleeve). This will give you some coverage, but also allow you to play with a wider range of accessories for your fall wedding.
If you opt to go with lace sleeves, you can vary how "sheer" they are. Above, these 3/4 length sleeves allow a little bit of skin to peek through. Below, these two dramatic dresses use sheer sleeves. On the left, this ballgown almost has "illusion" sleeves they are so sheer. This will add just a tiny bit of warmth to your gown for chilly weather without reading as a sleeved dress as much as the others shown here. On the right, beaded accents and bejeweled wrists add lots of details to this figure-hugging dress.
Sleeves can also serve as an extension to an illusion focal point on your dress. Above, this illusion neckline is definitely the "drama" in this gown. The lace sleeves accent the neckline subtly. If you want an illusion statement back, lace sleeves can help carry the right proportion through the dress' silhouette (below, left).
Depending on how much you want to draw attention to the sleeves, use different lace patterns in varied scales and weights. This ivy-inspired lace (above, right) is heavy and more linear than traditional lace patterns. Whereas, this demure lace (below) is sweet, and blends well with the rest of the dress.
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