Everything you didn’t know you needed to know about sleeves!
“Um…you know, it’s got the sleeves that do that thing over the top of the shoulder? You know?”
“Yes, I’m looking for a dress with the sleeves that go like this…” *insert flailing hand movements*
Have you ever had that moment when trying to describe the style you’re looking for to a hovering shop assistant? Because we get a lot of customers who know exactly what they want, they just don’t know how to put it into words. And goodness knows, it would make the experience a lot easier for all of us if we knew what you were after!
So today, I thought we’d start with a part of fashion that has really taken off in a design sense in the last few years: sleeves.
It’s an easy way to add a unique touch to a dress or top without going overboard, and there are so many different styles to choose from now:
- Off-the-shoulder or peasant
This style has been everywhere for a few years now but is still going strong. It basically consists of bare shoulders with either short or long sleeves. It sometimes involves elastic or it’s cut to sit just below the shoulder. It may be combined with some of the other sleeve styles.
- Cut-out or cold shoulder sleeves
Also heavily in vogue for a while, these are usually half length or t-shirt sleeves with an open section. Great for women who don’t like to go sleeveless or need to wear a bra but still like to have that cooler style.
- Bell sleeves
This is such a beautiful feminine style, usually on longer sleeves in light fabrics. Fitted to the elbow, it flares out into a frilled cuff or ruffle.
- Angel sleeves
Imagine the shape made on snow angels; a wide flare, or like a less-fitted version of the bell sleeve. May be any length.
- Bishop sleeves
This style was big over winter, but in a lighter fabric can still be worn into spring. It gets inspiration from historical styles, and can be full or ¾ length, flared shape that gathers to a cuff.
- Kimono sleeves
Obviously taking inspiration from the Japanese kimono, this is a wide, long, loose sleeve, sometimes separated from the body like a flag.
- Cap sleeve
Most people are familiar with this style: an extension of the fabric that literally caps the shoulder. Quite feminine flattering on most shapes.
- Butterfly sleeve
A floaty variation of the cap sleeve usually fluted and in light fabric. Again, very feminine and flattering.
- Petal sleeve
Another variation of the cap sleeve, named for the two ‘petals’ of fabric that overlap to form the cap over the shoulder.
- Slit sleeve
Long or ¾ sleeves with a slit right down the length to the cuff. A great way to feel covered up without getting too hot.
- Batwing sleeve (Mesa dress)
Exactly as it says on the box: a wide loose sleeve with a deep armhole (usually covered underneath). Similar to the kimono sleeve but attached to the body of the top or dress to give a full wing look. Black Mesa dress in Plum/Teal Multi
- Cape top
Technically not a sleeve, but really an extension of the collar, the arms and shoulders are covered to about the elbow by a wide draping cape. A lovely option if you don’t want to show your arms but don’t like the restriction of sleeves.
- Raglan (Mary check, Anatalla tee)
Mostly found on more casual styles, like tees. The arm seam runs from the collar diagonally down to the underarm. Think 70s baseball style.