Dear wedding gown designers,
Can we talk about something that’s been bothering me for years now? It’s a little thing called sleeves. Specifically, it’s about how nearly all of you refuse to design any.
Why are almost all wedding gowns strapless these days? Why are the few that aren’t strapless nearly all sleeveless? Unless a lady wants to buy her gown from a so-called ‘modest’ gown manufacturer designing specifically for brides marrying in religious traditions that have strict guidelines for appropriate clothing, it’s nearly impossible to find a sleeve on a wedding gown.
The truth is, though, that religion is not the only reason to cover an arm. Some of us don’t like to show off our upper arms because we dislike the way they look when exposed. With more women waiting longer to marry and more women (and men) carrying more excess weight for longer periods of time, the number of women who don’t want the world looking at their upper arms is only going to keep rising. And no, those tiny sheer cap straps you offer us as extra-cost additions aren’t helping one tiny bit. They don’t cover the area in question, and they cost extra. When we’re already paying several hundred to several thousand dollars for the priveledge of wearing your gowns, we don’t really want to spend yet more money in order to almost sort of cover our shoulders.
Some of us just plain don’t look good in strapless even if we have good, firm upper arms. I know I look rotten in strapless. I have great upper arms, but I have a long neck, sloping shoulders and a very small bust in proportion to the rest of my body. If I try to wear strapless, I look like there’s a country mile of nothing between my chin and my waistline. If, however, I have shoulder detail and a high neckline, I look freaking fantastic. I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t want to look my absolute best on my wedding day, and I certainly don’t see why any woman should settle for not looking her absolute best, either. If you can manage sheaths and ballgowns, long and short, ruffled and sleek, I don’t see why you can’t offer strapless gowns and ones with sleeves as well.
On top of all this, to look good even on the right woman, a proper and aerodynamic strapless bra is necessary to the line of a strapless gown. So you’ve got boning in the bodice of the gown, boning in the bra, or possibly a full-blown corset underneath that gown. It’s difficult to find a bra or corset that is both effective and comfortable – particularly if the lady in question has a generous bosom. It’s not impossible to do, certainly, but it’s another layer of effort in an already emotion-fraught and detail-oriented undertaking that some of us just plain don’t feel like adding to the pile of things we have to do.
Some of us aren’t religious, but still feel that a wedding where a woman is pledging her life, her heart, and her devotion to one person for the rest of her life isn’t necessarily the place to wear almost nothing above the nipple line. Some weddings just aren’t formal enough to justify strapless. Even if I looked great and felt comfortable in strapless, I wouldn’t have worn it to my wedding because I just wouldn’t have felt comfortable exposing that much flesh in that particular situation. Religious? Hardly. I just feel there’s a time and a place and my wedding wasn’t it. Between the vows I was preparing to take and the picnic in the woods atmosphere, strapless wouldn’t have been my choice even if I loved wearing it and looked amazing in it.
Most of all, though, your refusal to make gowns with sleeves is stifling your creativity. You deny yourself any design elements above mid-breast. Why are you doing this to yourselves? I understand that having a single template seems easy, but in the longrun you’re denying yourself opportunities to truly flatter the most women, to indulge in flights of fancy that don’t fit that tiny mold, and to allow women to feel as though they are wearing their fantasies rather than something stamped out with a cookie cutter that is frustratingly not them.
I’m not trying to say that strapless should completely disappear. Far from it. There are women who look glorious and feel superfantastic in strapless. They should absolutely have their needs, fantasies, and desires served. All I’m trying to say is that strapless is neither flattering to every single freaking woman on the planet, nor what we will all feel comfortable wearing. Please, please, please take this into consideration and broaden your horizons just a bit…just to our upper chests and arms.