Wedding dresses are An Issue for me. White wedding dresses, even. Yes, I think it would be great if there were a wider range of wedding outfits that were socially acceptable (or just more commonly worn). Yes, I think black wedding dresses are badass. But I also know that lots of us (me included) just plain old want to wear a white wedding dress, and the fact that our options are so limited galls me.
Let me take a moment for a side note, here. Thanks to the research I did when writing the APW book, I’ve learned few things about the origin of the white wedding dress. And contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to do with sexual purity (gross); it has to do with wealth. Queen Victoria popularized the white wedding dress when she made the unusual choice of selecting white. I also am a firm believer in the fact that the real importance of wedding tradition is the personal historical meaning that it holds for us. Couples only started getting married in churches in the United States around the turn of the century, but if your mother and grandmother and great grandmother did it, it might mean a lot to you. Thus it was with me (and with lots of us) and the white wedding dress.
My issues with the white wedding dress are these: the hugely limited options, and the way that those options impose a certain vision of womanhood and femininity on us. In short, I really didn’t want to wear a sleeveless, embellished, ball-gown. Not for any political reason, but just because it wasn’t my style. But what I found in my endless battle with wedding dress shopping was that not only was it almost impossible for me to find a dress that wasn’t strapless (spoiler alert: I wore one), it was almost impossible to find a salesperson that didn’t insist that I really WANTED a strapless embellished gown for “my special day,” so I wouldn’t “regret it.” It often felt like I was being told that if I couldn’t cram myself into the extremely restrictive role of BRIDE, then I shouldn’t even be getting married.
Because of this, I’m perhaps oddly passionate about wedding dresses with sleeves. I’ll take any kind of sleeve: a cap sleeve, a short sleeve, a three-quarter-length sleeve, a full sleeve. And when I got up at the crack of dawn to watch the Royal Wedding in 2011, I screamed with delight when I saw Katherine wearing a dress with actual, honest-to-god, sleeves. And while Ms. Middleton’s wedding dress choice didn’t popularize sleeves here in the States quite as much as I’d like, we’ve made serious progress in the last few years.
So today, I’m pleased to bring you this Wedding Dresses with Sleeves roundup, for the modest and edgy alike. We had more dresses than we could possibly fit in one roundup, so when you’re done looking through these, head over to our new Pinterest board for forty-plus more options. We focused on dresses with a noticeable sleeve, in a variety of price ranges, and we divided them by long, short, and modest (or, modest with the help of a good seamstress to help a sister out with some lining). Because no one who wants a sleeved wedding dress gets enough help finding good ones.
1. Persephone Shift from BHLDN ($280—Sold Out, but you can probably find it used!) 2. Ivory Openwork Floral Pattern Lace Dress by Lover ($1,166) 3. Long Sleeve Dress by Isabel Marant Étoile available at Farfetch ($721.06) 4. Penelope Mini available at BHLDN (Only XS in stock for $80! But most likely available used.) 5. ASOS Midi Dress in Lace with Wrap Back ($62.29)
1. Salina Built-In Corset Gown available at BCBG ($598) 2. Metallic Lace Gown by David Meister available at Neiman Marcus (on sale! $227) 3. Sapphire Long Dress in Ivory/Silver available at Revolve Clothing ($795) 4. Lia Gown by Catherine Deane available at BHLDN ($2,000) 5. Kerry Gown available from Watters Brides (price not listed)
1. Laura Dress by Aria ($878) 2. Sequined Lace Gown by Carmen Marc Valvo available at Saks Fifth Avenue ($1145) 3. Posey Dress ($278) 4. Distinctly Darling Dress available at Modcloth ($87.99) 5. Vintage Inspired Ivory Lace Dress by DreamersLA available on Etsy ($350)