A bell sleeve is a type of sleeve which is fitted to a certain point till it flares out. The naming is apt as it creates a bell like shape. This type of sleeve is usually cut in a simple manner and attached to the dress without any ruffles or pleats. It is simply sewn on to the circumference of the sleeve. The bell sleeve pattern can vary depending on the length of the sleeve.
It can be a full sleeve with the flared out portion extending over the wrist and fingers, or the sleeve can end just at the elbows, with the flared out portion extending till the lower forearm. There are various lengths in between. You can use them to get different types of looks for the bell sleeve dress. Sometimes the bell sleeve is very large in circumference with a voluminous drape, while at other occasions, the flare is minimal with a very low circumference for the sleeve. Each of these types of creates a very different look for the garment in context.
Old But Not Passé
Bell sleeve clothing is actually quite old in its origins. They were utilized in medieval time gowns and dresses and till today, they are the most popular types of sleeves used for medieval time costumes. On the other hand, bell sleeve tops are also a huge part of bohemian fashion and are often associated with the relaxed and laid back hippy vibe. Their loose, flowing shape perfectly complements hippy style tops and tunics. It is also quite a big part of the early 2000s style fashion and of the Japanese aesthetic.
This diverse set of associations makes it a very unique and attractive sleeve style, especially with women who have off-beat, unconventional tastes in fashion. This style is also very comfortable; though it covers the arms, it also feels very light and flowy which makes it an appropriate style for summer, spring and autumn.
It makes the wearer feel special, with the flattering silhouette it creates and the feminine way in which it flares outwards. In western fashion, wedding dresses with bell sleeves have also become extremely popular. These have very medieval aesthetics and are often paired up with a very simple v shaped neckline and flared out sheath silhouette. The bell sleeve wedding dress is considered one of the most feminine and flattering outfits a bride could wear.
The bell sleeve pattern has also made its presence felt in Indian fashion. It arrived here relatively recently, but has become immensely popular in the last few years. The long bell sleeve dress with kaleidoscopic prints and Indian motifs is a classic bohemian Indian style, worn by women in the summer and especially as beach wear.
Bell sleeve kurtis and kurtas, as well as indo western tunics with the bell sleeve designs have also becoming hugely popular especially with the younger generation. The free and flowing look of this type of design really complements the vibrant, summery vibe of Indian prints and designs. These kinds of ethnic bell sleeve tops are usually made of breezy, comfortable materials like cotton and cotton silk, which you can easily dye into various colors and print with different types of designs.
The bell sleeve pattern has also been incorporated into other types of Indian dresses, such as the salwar kameez. It is typically added to kameez that has a looser, more free-flowing fit, similar to kurtas. This creates a very carefree vibe, whilst retaining the ethnic flair of the salwar kameez. Nowadays, designers are also choosing to create a dramatic visual contrast by pairing up a well-fitting anarkali cut or a figure hugging silhouette with bell sleeves.
These usually tend to be a bit more elaborately decorated than tops and tunics. Light embroidery, as well as subtle sequins, stones or beads embellishments, is sometimes used to decorate this type of bell sleeve clothing. In order to draw attention to the bell sleeve, designers sometimes use contrasting colors or materials for the main portion of the outfit and for the sleeves. They may even use finely embroidered lace, translucent net and embroidered brocade materials for the sleeves to create a very fine, luxurious look for the outfit.
Bell sleeves have become immensely popular because of their effortless combination of comfort and style. Whether it is the indo western salwar kameez, kurtas and kurtis or the stylish summer dresses and tunics, bell sleeves are used in all types of clothing today. The casual wear bell sleeve kurtas, kurtis and tunics should be paired up with leggings or pants in a complementary color as well as beaded necklaces to complete the bohemian look. The more formal looking dresses and salwar kameez can be accessorized with long strings of pearls and flower headbands to create the more sophisticated bohemian chic vibe.