The most important features distinguishing your medieval dress from the rest are the sleeves. On a ‘regular’ dress the overall design is most important while the sleeves are usually secondary if there are any at all. But in a medieval wedding they could make or break you. The style and length depends on how much you are willing to sacrifice beauty for practicality and how many activities you have planned for the big day. Here are some common sleeve types and their practical advantages and disadvantages to help you better decide before you’re stuck with last minute seamstress visits.
Queen Sleeves, Full or ¾ Length
These are the sleeves that usually come to mind when thinking medieval dresses. They have a somewhat oval opening and drape on your arm while coming to a point at the bottom hem. If you are really ambitious you can get these designed with almost the same amount of material as the body of your dress! This is a very romantic look, and you better make sure you have some strong arms because it could get a bit cumbersome after a few hours. All that extra material is fun for pictures, but it’s all that time in between where you have to actually use your arms to do things that may have you wishing you had been less eccentric. But if you aren’t into the floor length, gets into the food look, than try a more reasonable ¾ length that you can push up to your elbow and stabilize while eating or greeting guests.
This type is just how it sounds, with a close fitting sleeve underneath a circular cut flowing oversleeve that flares out from your elbow. You can get the inner sleeve in a straight at the wrist bone style, or a v that meets at a point over your middle knuckle, find more info. These are very eye-catching and take attention away from the other parts of your dress, so make sure they are as beautiful as you had imagined. The inner sleeve makes these more easily adapted to daily activities, as you can push the oversleeve back and still have your arm covered in luxurious material. Another option is having the oversleeve slit down the top so the undersleeve is more visible and the oversleeve gathers below your arm; it’s both elegant and stays out of the way. Plus you can see the inner lining of the oversleeve easier in this style, which will create even more interest to your appearance.
The bell sleeve is similar to the circular oversleeve explained in the previous one. The only exception is that the flare is usually mid-forearm or a few inches behind your wrist bone; many peasant shirts fancy this design. These aren’t overly ornate unless they are made from a different, flashy material than the body of your dress. If you want most of the attention to be on the dress itself rather than just the sleeves, this is your best option. It’s better to end the bell hem at the wrist or no more than an inch onto your hand or you’ll have trouble keeping it in place when attempting to do any fine detail work (such as eating soup without mopping it up with your sleeve excess).
What Material Should I Choose?
If your dress is made of silk, than you should likely match it with silk sleeves. However, velvet dresses can be more versatile this way. You can get the dress made in velvet, but the sleeves in anything from satin to brocade to shantung. Even a soft flowing sheer chiffon can go nicely with the liquid feel of velvet. Don’ forget about embroidered or printed silks and brocades; either can spruce up your look instantly. So don’t limit yourself to getting a dress of all the same material-your possibilities are as close as a look at your local fabric store.