These classic gowns from modern designers are perfect for brides who want a beautiful design with a little more coverage.
Left to right: Jlm Couture Bridal Collection 2017-18. Imaxtree. Sottero and Midgley. Maggie Sottero Designs. Le Spose Di Gio Collection 2016-17. Le Spose Di Gio
When I first got engaged and started planning my wedding, I must have bought a dozen bridal magazines. My sister and I joyfully spread them out on the floor and started flipping pages like women possessed. We’d evaluate every aspect, saying aloud: “Ooh, look at those buttons!” or “Wow, this one has such a pretty back.” We could have gushed for hours. But as we continued to flip through page after page, I realized something that gave me pause: most of the dresses we saw were strapless. In fact, if I had to wager, I’d say 80 percent of the gowns were without so much as a spaghetti strap.
And that’s when it dawned on me that 80 percent of these dresses were not for me.
MORE TO READ: 101 wedding dresses
There are many reasons why a bride might want a wedding dress with sleeves, ranging from church policy (many priests do not allow uncovered shoulders, though modesty requirements vary by congregation) to cold weather (some winter brides prefer not to freeze to death while saying “I do”). And, of course, there’s the simple fact that not every body type looks good in a strapless gown. Some women, myself included, look much better with a little more coverage; some brides need more support for their bust, and many of us just weren’t blessed with Michelle Obama’s strong, slim arms.
So I decided to share my wedding dress research with all the brides out there who are currently scouring wedding dress salons and Pinterest with nary a sleeve to be found. Hope is out there, and it definitely doesn’t look like your grandma’s traditional long sleeved dress:
Oscar de la Renta
If you love sweetheart cut necklines but still want shoulder and arm coverage, the Alicia, from Oscar de la Renta’s signature bridal collection, might be the perfect fit. Made of ivory silk faille, the gown comes with an ivory floral corded Chantilly lace overlay that looks regal and feminine at the same time.
The Ashton, also by Oscar de la Renta, is perfect for brides who like lace, but don’t want to be overwhelmed by fabric. (On my personal wedding dress journey, I discovered that too much lace made me look a little frumpy.) The Chantilly lace illusion sleeves on this dress are laid over a strapless gown neckline to provide an airy look, while the flowing tulle keeps the whole dress looking light as a feather.
A division of JLM Couture designs, Lazaro’s spring 2017 collection includes this stunning ivory dress (style 3709) that is hand beaded with embroidered tulle. The A-line bridal gown’s bateau neckline is eye-catching for its sheer embroidered sleeve, and a pretty low V-back. What you can’t see here: the full chapel train, that will look straight out of a fairy tale as it pulls down the aisle behind you.
This collared shirt gown is a style that’s classic to Carolina Herrera evening dresses, but the cotton fabric here is an unexpected bridal twist. The advantage is that the design creates a crisp look that moves more easily than heavy laces or brocades. Called the Anne (though it looks more like a style worn by Princess Margaret on Netflix’s new show The Crown) it carries an air of 1940s elegance into the modern age.
This close up of the back shows off the careful pleating and flattering lines of the dress. (Plus, there’s something fabulous and unexpected about an elegantly popped collar!)
Le Spose de Gio
This delicate silk and lace gown from the Italian designer’s 2016-2017 collection adds a voluminous bow at the back that is so Grace Kelly. Just imagine the skirt swishing around the dance floor like you’re royalty. The beautifully buttoned back and covered shoulders are demure yet stunning. Le Spose de Gio uses breathtakingly luxurious fabrics, so you may find prices on the higher end of the spectrum, but the quality of craftmanship is largely unparalleled.
This off-the shoulder Tilly gown may need to be covered with a short cape for certain church ceremonies (we recommend layering on this faux fur white Tahari capelet for a winter wedding), but if your main goal is to keep those arms covered, this lovely silhouette is very flattering. The corded lace is modest, but still highlights your clavicles, which is slimming to the eye. Christos is a division of the Amsale Group, which also offers traditional sleeved bridal gowns, as well as bridesmaid dresses.
This A-line design with soft Vicenza organza skirt, called the Brentleigh, is demure and youthful. The lace bodice, has three-quarter sleeves and the V-neckline is flattering, but modest. The pleated satin belt cinches in at the waist to create a lady-like hourglass.
Sottero and Midgley also created the Danae dress: a traditional lace gown in a slim A-line, complete with long sleeves of illusion lace. The finishing touch any romantic will adore? Pearl buttons on the sleeves. (I wasn’t kidding about how much I adore a long trail of buttons on a wedding gown.)
The Spanish designer is fresh on the bridal scene, and creating visually unique ready to wear classics. This design (#10 in the collection) balances long sheer sleeves with a buttoned up look: cuffs and a sweet collar. You can buy it off the rack at Moda Operandi, or visit one of their stores in New York, Madrid, or London.
The floral details here are gorgeous, just check out this close up of the collar:
The Barcelona-based brand is known for its gorgeous, modest designs and flattering cuts. (It’s also priced nicely, compared to other top designers.) Their 2017 collection offers many dresses with sleeves, including this simple Ivania silhouette made of white crepe.
Want a little more detail on your dress? Pronovias also makes the Nagore, which is similar in its simplicity to the Ivania, but adds a beautiful floral cutout design that trails from one corner of the bateau neckline on the front, and also makes a small appearance on the back of the dress.
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