Fashion 101: Different Types of Sleeves

How do you choose the perfect type of sleeve? The decision used to be easy: short in the summer, long in the winter…Today however, a sleeve of any length can be flirty, casual or even regal. So what types of sleeves do you choose?

In the words of our Head Designer, Gloria Berck, “Any sleeve types could compliment a woman’s body type. What it comes down to is personal preference.”

Do you want a sleeve with a little flair? Do you want a sleeve length that will cover your arms? Or do you want a sleeve that’s both modest and shows off some skin?

“What you’ll notice about the different types of dress styles here is that the silhouettes are simple, comfortable and are an easy fit. All the interest and excitement of these dresses are in the different types of sleeves.”- Gloria Berck, CA Head Designer

Kristen is wearing the Stevie Black Lace Sequin Dress. It's the perfect LBD to have in your closet that you can wear year-round. All it takes is a change of accessories to match the time of year.

Sleeve styles have become a fixture in fashion design and garment making. And with so many unique types of sleeves that serve both an aesthetic and practical function, it’s easy to get lost in the changing sleeve styles. Sleeve designs can be created in any fabric and any style and they are a crucial element of a garment’s look and silhouette, as it is one of the first things you see in a garment.

Beyond their practical function, different types of sleeves complete a garment’s silhouette and can create movement or structure to the piece depending on dress style.

“We don’t want our dress sleeves to look or feel heavy, so we design them to be light and airy but still cover you up,” Gloria explains. “Over the years we’ve expanded upon the traditional sleeve lengths (short, long) to include sleeves with slits, ruffles, cold shoulders and so on.”

“The big driving point with all these figure-flattering dresses or even tops is the body shape - slightly loose, a-line dresses where the sleeve is the big deal,” she continues. “We find that this works for any woman’s body type because many times, a woman simply wants to cover up her arms. Not everyone wants a sexy, form-fitting silhouette, so we found the recipe for that.”

Whether you’re looking for a statement sleeve, a modest sleeve or traditional sleeve, we’ve got the right sleeve styles that will highlight your features beautifully. Check out our favorites below.

Short Sleeves Design

Short sleeves are a traditional sleeve style that will never go out of fashion.

They are great for warmer weather, offering a simple style and comfortable fit. When the temperature begins to drop in the evening, short sleeve styles are easy to wear with a sweater or jacket. No bunching of the sleeves!

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While not technically a short sleeve jumpsuit, the Sunny 2.0 Black Jumpsuit features an attached cape, which gives the same amount of arm coverage as short sleeves styles.

Tejera is wearing the Bobbi X-Neck Olive Suede dress, featuring short sleeves to round out this workwear staple.

Cap Sleeve Styles

There are more to cap sleeves than meets the eye!

Cap sleeves offer a flattering vertical silhouette in the upper part of your body and add a bit more structure to a garment. Connected Apparel’s cap sleeve styles are carefully constructed to provide a comfortable fit, while also being figure flattering.

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Woman posing wearing Navy Grace Navy Sequin Lace Dress from Connected Apparel

The extended cap sleeves on the Grace Navy Sequin Lace Floor Length Dress add that extra coverage you're looking for in a formal long gown.

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The Sally Center Panel Dress is easy to layer and comfortable to wear for a variety of seasons and special occasions.

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Sleeveless dresses are another traditional sleeve style that is seasonless.

Women's sleeveless dresses and sleeveless jumpsuits create a long vertical line that can be eye-catching. If you have broad shoulders or arms that you feel self conscious about, tank style sleeveless dresses with a neckline that's deep can help to balance out the look. The great thing about sleeveless dresses is that you can pair them easily with sweaters, jackets or even opt for dresses with capes!

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Woman posing wearing Black and red Cassie Color Block Dress from Connected Apparel

The Cassie dress is great for layering and has a silhouette that's flattering on women of all shapes and sizes.

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The Lisa Little Black Dress is a closet staple and sleeveless dress must-have.

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Raglan Sleeve Styles

Raglan types of sleeves come in all lengths and are a popular choice for many garments.

Unlike regular sleeves that are attached at the underside of your arm, raglan sleeve styles are designed to be an extension of your shoulder, therefore creating an illusion of long arms for a slim look. They’re also great for shrinking broad shoulders. Connected Apparel takes things one step further with an open sleeve style, which allows for added movement in our Sasha dress.

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Split Sleeve Styles

Sleeves with slits are also referred to as peek-a-book sleeves or split sleeve styles.

Adding a slit to a long sleeve dress not only provides coverage, but also allows for added movement. It also allows for the sleeves to not be form fitting, but instead light and airy. Gloria says, “Adding chiffon sleeves with slits to our Stevie dress was the perfect way to create a comfortable, figure-flattering special occasion dress that adds mystery and a touch of sexiness.”

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The Lisette Little Black Dress features a flattering faux wrap and split sleeves to help you feel comfortable and confident.

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The Stevie dress is perfect for a variety of occasions on your calendar.

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Three-Quarter Sleeve Styles

Three-quarter inch sleeve styles provide just the right amount of coverage, taking the chill off while also showing off some extra skin.

Fashion gurus have been known to say that three-quarter inch sleeve styles are the most universally flattering. Because this sleeve has a length between the elbow and wrist, they highlight the smaller part of your arm and are also known as bracelet sleeves. Why not style your dress with some bangles?!

Effie Color Block Dress

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Selena Berry Floral Knot Dress

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Elbow Sleeve Styles

Elbow types of sleeves offer comfort and coverage

A length that’s between traditional short sleeves and three-quarter sleeves and ends right at the crease of your arm, elbow types of sleeves offer comfort and coverage. They are a great option when you want to conceal the upper part of your arm but you still want to feel a bit of breeze. Visually, elbow sleeves end just under your bust, one of the smallest parts of your midsection, which helps to create a figure-flattering silhouette.

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Liz Polka Dot Dress

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Carrie Deep Cobalt Dress

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Butterfly Styles

Butterfly sleeves are a beautiful added element to any dress.

Gathered at the shoulder seams, butterfly sleeves have a loose hem to give them movement. With its chic design and elegant look, butterfly sleeves allow you to move freely while feeling confident.

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Balloon Sleeve Styles

Balloon sleeves add a touch of drama and uniqueness.

Typically, you’ll find a balloon sleeve paired with a simple, streamlined silhouette. This allows for the sleeves to be the focal point and why wouldn’t you want them to be?!

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