Dress Sleeve Styles

Written by jeremy cato
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Dress Sleeve Styles
Some people like long sleeves (o k image by Susanne Güttler from Fotolia.com)

Different sleeve styles evolved throughout the centuries to compliment women's dresses, whether for fashion or function. Today's modern dresses feature an assortment of sleeve styles, and once you learn which styles best compliment you, look for dresses that sport the most flattering types for your body.


This sleeve is \wide at the shoulder, narrows from shoulder to elbow, then gets wider from elbow to wrist. It is called a balloon sleeve because it is so full at the wrist that it appears as if it is filled with air. Alternatively, the balloon sleeve may be very tight at the wrist and gradually puff up at the shoulder.


This sleeve has no cuff but is narrow at the arm entrance and flares out to the wrist. The end of the sleeve is very wide and hangs loosely off the wrist. The long fabric on the end is called a tail. This is commonly seen in choir and ministerial gowns. The bell sleeve is a good choice for those who have thicker arms.


The cap sleeve covers only the shoulder in a tight, ball-shaped mound. Because it offers the least coverage, it is best worn by those with good muscle tone on their upper arms.


The dolman-type of sleeve became popular in the 1800s; it extends from the bodice of the dress instead of the top sides of the dress. The sleeve does not actually have an armhole, but connects to the waistline, which somewhat limits the range of possible arm movement. It is also known as a batwing sleeve.

Fitted Point

This long sleeve narrows to angled point that lie on the back of the hand. The fitted point is also often commonly seen in other types of sleeves, particularly gauntlet, Juliet, leg of mutton and other more ornate styles. Fitted point sleeves are very elegant and will commonly be seen on fancy, formal gowns and period costumes.


This sleeve actually has two parts. The first is a wide, puffy piece called a pouf that extends from the shoulder to the elbow The second is a separate, arm-length, narrow piece with a fitted point at the end. Long gloves with a wide, fitted-point at the end can also be worn with this style. The gauntlet is a very formal style of sleeve that is usually only seen very expensive gowns.


This very long sleeve features a tight, high mound at the top of the shoulder, similar to a cap sleeve. The sleeve narrows as it approaches the wrist and ends in a fitted point. The Juliet sleeve actually does date back to the 1600s, the time of Shakespeare.

Leg of Mutton

The leg of mutton sleeve is loose, rounded and full from the shoulder to the elbow, like a pouf, then it abruptly narrows and touches the skin from elbow to wrist. It usually ends in a fitted point. It is also called a Gigot sleeve.

Spaghetti Strap

Yes, the spaghetti strap is considered a sleeve. These are thin tubes of fabric that drape over the shoulders and look like spaghetti pasta, hence the name. The spaghetti strap is best worn on slender, well-toned body types.

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