Sleeves are an integral part of the look and feel of any wedding dress, but they aren’t talked about as often as color, decoration, silhouette, and other features. Whether you’re browsing our selection of modern wedding qipaos or designing a custom one, you’re going to have to make some choices about the length, shape, and fabric of your wedding cheongsam sleeves. Don’t worry — this in-depth guide to the world of sleeve possibilities has got your back.
We’ll go into more detail about all the different sleeve options, but here are some basic principles to keep in mind:
- A short-sleeved or sleeveless cheongsam will bring a viewer’s focus up towards your face.
- Sleeves that hit at the waist cause a contrast between the dress and your skin tone, which makes your waist look smaller.
- Opting for long sleeves on your cheongsam draws the eye down the length of the dress, which can be especially fun if you’re working with a long train.
Now, without further ado, let’s get into the sleeves!
Who says sleeveless isn’t a type of sleeve? A sleeveless wedding qipao is a sleek and minimalist option perfect for warm-weather weddings or brides whose arms are their favorite feature. If you’re being bold with your dress silhouette, keeping things simple and sleeveless up top will complement and balance a larger skirt. If you’re sticking to a traditional cheongsam cut, going sleeveless will add a subtle modern twist to the classic look.
If you want to show some love to your back and shoulders, consider a halter-style or strapless wedding cheongsam. A halter neck is flattering and feminine while still providing coverage in front, and going strapless is the ultimate way to blend two traditions and make your qipao your own.
There’s so much to love about a cap sleeve! As one of the iconic elements of a classic qipao, it looks great either as part of a traditional Chinese wedding look or as a cultural detail incorporated into a modern design. A cap sleeve adds structure to your dress while still showing off your arms, and it gives the illusion of broader shoulders and an hourglass figure.
Your cap sleeve can be the same material as the rest of your cheongsam for a look that’s cohesive and traditional, or you can use an accent fabric like mesh or lace to add visual interest and a unique touch.
The half sleeve wedding qipao is truly the best of both worlds. Many brides find a half sleeve to be more flattering for their arms than a cap sleeve while still giving the short sleeve look. Depending on your proportions, a half sleeve cheongsam might hit right at your waist or slightly above it.
A half sleeve is a more prominent feature of a dress than shorter sleeve lengths, so if you love the pattern or other decoration on your fabric, a half sleeve will give it the attention it deserves. It’s a versatile sleeve that works well with most dress cuts, but it’s a particularly good choice for shorter wedding gowns, as it makes sense with the skirt length without leaving the dress feeling too casual.
Another gorgeous sleeve option for your wedding cheongsam is the three-quarters sleeve, which extends past the elbow and exposes the wrist and forearm. Like the half sleeve, the exact place your three-quarters sleeve qipao hits on your body will depend on your torso and arm lengths. If you’re wearing traditional Chinese wedding bangles or other bracelets on your big day, the coverage the three-quarters sleeve gives to the rest of the arm will draw attention to those accessories and really let them shine.
Three-quarters sleeves are a great choice if you have an intricate pattern on the rest of your dress, as they provide some visual breathing room that prevents the dress from looking too busy. They’re also fantastic for wedding dresses with looser and larger sleeves (such as a qun kwa), because the arm peekaboo ensures you don’t look swallowed by fabric.
Last but not least in our list of sleeve options is, of course, the full sleeve. This sleeve length, which encompasses anything from stopping just before the wrist to cascading down to the floor, is the epitome of elegance and provides the arm coverage that a lot of brides are looking for.
A full-length sleeve that closely follows the shape of your arms will make them look longer and slimmer, while a bigger sleeve that comes away from the arm is an opportunity to add whimsy or drama. You can infuse your personal style into your long-sleeved qipao by playing around with the sleeve shape — check out lantern, bell, and cape sleeves for inspiration — or by using a statement fabric like mesh or lace.
Which sleeve option (or, let’s be honest, options, because how could you choose just one?) caught your eye? The best part of wearing a bespoke or original wedding cheongsam is that every detail is designed to celebrate and flatter your body and give you the unforgettable wedding day you deserve. Whether choosing the perfect sleeves is the first step in your modern qipao journey or the final one, we’re thrilled to be a part of it.
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