The Best Long-Sleeved Wedding Dresses, Inspired By Kate Middleton And Meghan Markle

These gowns are the closest thing to royalty!

long-sleeved wedding dress

by Renee Washington |
Updated on

Long-sleeved wedding dresses have serious history. Take Princess Diana's iconic long-sleeved wedding dress. Designed by the Emanuels, featuring puffy sleeves and a voluminous skirt, her dress certainly inspired future generations of brides to come.

In recent times, we've seen many royal brides follow in her footsteps; Kate Middleton and Megan Markle, who both wowed in floor-sweeping gowns with long sleeves. We also can't forget the A-listers. From Paris Hilton to Kim Kardashian, long-sleeved wedding dresses have certainly had their fair share of love.

A long-sleeved dress is an elegant choice for several reasons. It adds sophistication (just look at the roster above) and can be particularly appealing for traditional weddings. Beyond aesthetics, long sleeves provide additional coverage, making it a suitable option for weddings held in cooler seasons. The style also allows the bride to showcase intricate lacework, beaded embellishments or even a statement sleeve.

The great thing is that there are plenty of affordable high street wedding dresses with long sleeves, so if this is something you're leaning towards, you've come to the right place. Whether you're going for a tea-length wedding dress or something a bit more formal we have the perfect wedding dress inspiration for you - and don't forget the veil, too.

Shop: The Best Long-Sleeved Wedding Dress

Price: £385 (was £550)

www.monsoon.co.uk

With a size range of UK 6-24, plus a history of making some of the best affordable wedding dresses (and bridesmaid dresses) in the business, Monsoon is one of the most reliable options for bridalwear on the high street. This gown's sheer puffball sleeves and elegant train mean it looks a lot more expensive than its under-£500 price tag.

Pros

  • Good size range from UK 6-24
  • A versatile length that means you can either wear it with flats for a floor-sweeping look or with heels so that the hem's off the ground

Cons

  • Its 100% polyester fabrication means that it might be a slightly warm choice in summer

Designed to finish at that flattering point just above the ankle, Whistles' lace wedding dress puts a twist on the traditional, with a cut-out back and a modest slit up either leg.

Pros

  • A good size range from UK 4-20

Price: £169.50 (was £339)

www.coastfashion.com

With ever-so-slightly sheer trumpet sleeves, Coast's delicately beaded wedding dress is a boho triumph.

Pros

  • Subtle train

Cons

  • Only goes up to size 18

House Of CB

Featuring a corset, mesh sleeves, and thigh-high slit, this dress is simply the definition of romantic. (And P.S. House of CB should be your go-to if you want something figure hugging.)

Pros

  • Contains stretch for added comfort
  • Fully lined

Made of 100% silk, Rixo's long-sleeved maxi dress has a fluid drape that means it'll photograph beautifully.

Pros

  • Rixo allows you to 'try before you buy'
  • Silk ensures a fluid look and feel
  • A good size range from UK 6-20

For a spectacular long-sleeved wedding dress, look no further than 16Arlington, whose cult keyhole cut-out dress has been transformed into a glittering mesh spectacle that will make your wedding photos.

Cons

  • Only goes up to a size 16

If you're looking for a top-to-toe lace moment, Costarellos' Alessa gown is an ethereal and elegant option, thanks to its long sleeves and frothy tulle skirt that will fan out behind you.

Pros

  • Made from intricately woven corded lace

Cons

  • Only goes up to size 18

Price: $225 (was £342)

Designed with a scoop cowl-style back that's finished with a delicate bow tie, this long-sleeved wedding dress would be ideal for an abroad wedding.

Pros

  • Machine washable
  • Also comes in pale yellow if you want to coordinate with your bridesmaids

Kylie Jenner wore the iridescent version of this elegant column dress on holiday so we can absolutely confirm that it's a knockout. The floor-sweeping train pairs beautifully with the simplicity of its silhouette.

Pros

  • Padded shoulders for a structured finish
  • The foiled jersey finish means that it will glimmer in photographs

Cons

  • Only goes up to a size 16

Reformation's Adwen silk dress has a romantic silhouette thanks to its long sleeves, diamond cut-out back and fluid train.

Pros

  • The skirt's hem is fitted with a loop so that you can shorten it for the first dance

Cons

  • Only goes up to a size 16

Self-Portrait's suit is actually a one-piece comprising of a jacket and skirt - clever, no?

Pros

  • Detachable belt
  • In-built jacket so no need for a cover-up

Cons

  • Only goes up to a size 16

Made of simple jersey but with an elaborate criss-cross front, Elie Saab's long-sleeved gown is a subtle showstopper.

Pros

  • Invisible zipper

Cons

  • Only goes up to a size 18

If simple is your mission statement when it comes to your wedding dress, Ghost's selection of satin midi dresses is superlative. Its Mari has long sleeves and an ever-so-slightly flared skirt.

Pros

  • Machine washable

Cons

  • Only goes up to a size 16

Available in June, this chic mini would make a perfect long-sleeved wedding dress for a ceremony that's taking place at the height of summer.

Pros

  • Sculpted hips

Cons

  • Only goes up to size 14

This rose-embellished, long-sleeved maxi dress is such a chic option for a city wedding.

Pros

  • Thigh-high for a comfortable fit

Why do royal brides wear long sleeves?

Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and Princess Eugenie, who all tied the knot in recent history, decided to wear long-sleeved wedding dresses to walk down the aisle. But why? My guess would be that because they all said their vows in a church - the former bride at Westminster Abbey, the latter two at St George's Chapel, Windsor - long sleeves were deemed the appropriate choice. So for long-sleeved wedding dress inspiration, you couldn't do better than to follow the example set by these royal brides...

Kate Middleton's wedding dress was designed by Sarah Burton, who, at the time, was creative director of Alexander McQueen. Inspired by the long-sleeved wedding dress worn by Grace Kelly, yet another royal bride, it featured a high collar, a sweetheart bodice and a skirt that swelled into a giant train.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 29: Prince William and his bride Catherine Middleton arrive by coach at Buckingham Palace following the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

Meghan Markle opted for a simple wedding dress with an elegant boat neckline designed by Clare Waight Keller, then creative director of Givenchy, on her big day. The sleeves contributed to the no bells and whistles style of her gown, which was simple but stunning.

(Photo credit BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Nicky Hilton also chose to wear a long-sleeve lace wedding dress, with a chic high-necked silhouette, that was designed by Valentino. Like Kate Middleton's gown, Hilton's had the kind of cinch-waisted, full-skirted cut that looks particularly good with a sleeve that stretches all the way to the wrist. (As you can see from many of the dresses above, a lot of long-sleeved wedding gowns come with a variation on sheer or lace sleeves, which lighten both the silhouette and provide a point of difference from the rest of your dress.)

Following in her sister's footsteps was Paris Hilton, whose gown, a long-sleeved design with floral embroidery by Oscar de la Renta, took the same inspiration as Kate Middleton's: Grace Kelly.

What months can you wear a long-sleeved wedding dress?

A long-sleeved wedding dress obviously lends itself to autumn or winter nuptials, but that's not to say that you can't choose the silhouette for spring or summer. It totally depends on what you feel comfortable wearing - some people bask in warm temperatures while others prefer to feel cool at all times - and also whether your wedding reception has air conditioning or not. If you're going to be outside in the midday sun for your ceremony or your wedding breakfast, long sleeves could make you hot under the proverbial collar, but you could always balance out the coverage on top with a shorter hemline.

Renee Washington, Grazia's Digital Fashion and Beauty Assistant, lives online. With a penchant for wispy lashes and streetwear, she writes about the worlds of fashion and beauty from the viewpoint of the modern fashion girlie.

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