Detached Sleeves

An outfit with sleeves that aren't attached to a top. Usually they're strapped onto the arm close to the shoulder and allowed to flow freely around the wrist — therefore, they are not gloves, more like arm-warmers taken to the flowy extreme. Sometimes, however, these sleeves are very tight and feels like a detached tight clothing, but the concept is still pretty much the same. Common in Anime and Manga, especially in the portrayal of Miko shrine maidens.

The appeal of detached sleeves may be related to that of Zettai Ryouiki, only now it's the upper arm and shoulder that are bared (at least — pairings with strapless tops are not unknown).

Compare Anti-Gravity Clothing and Opera Gloves.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • Wallace of Wallace & Gromit appears to be wearing a long-sleeved shirt under his vest, but a scene in The Wrong Trousers, in which he is dressed by a series of robotic gizmos, revealed that it's actually a pair of standalone sleeves. This was meant as a gag, but has been repeated in more recent films.
  • Kida's dress at the end of Disney's Atlantis The Lost Empire. However, we never see the armband she wore as a princess under the upper portion of her left sleeve.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • There was a really crazy example of this in The Fifth Element: Bruce Willis in a tank top and detached sleeves. They appear to be some kind of futuristic bandage.
  • Balthazar sports a pair of detached sweater sleeves worn over a long-sleeved shirt in The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
  • There seems to be quite a fashion for these in Old Republic of a Galaxy Far Far Away....
  • Quorra in TRON: Legacy. In fact the only real flesh she shows (besides her face), despite being for some the obligatory fanservice girl.
  • Rocket in Sucker Punch appears to have detached leather sleeves joined to the body of the outfit by thin straps. Goes with the Animesque feel of the movie.
  • In School of Rock, a guitarist in Battle of the Bands takes this to the logical extreme by wearing sleeves and no shirt.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, The sleeves of Aragorn's Bad Ass Longcoat are laced on and removable, and we see him both with and without the sleeves at various points in the movie. See the example for Medieval European garments under Real Life below.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Faith, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, wears these in her first appearance and a few times afterwards.
  • Real occasionally wears some pretty tight ones on Real Chance of Love
  • Degrassi features this twice during its tenth season. Fiona, rich enough to always be on the absolute cutting edge of fashion, has an outfit with the typical flowing sleeves hanging from her elbows on down. Wesley, a middle class nerdy boy, at one point in time sports double arm casts.
  • Brittany from Glee invokes this look by wearing leg warmers on her arms after she foolishly wears a tank top in the middle of winter ("No one taught me how to read a calendar!").

    Music Videos 
  • Crypton Future Media's "Character Vocal" Series Vocaloids, their derivatives and many UTAU have these. A few Vocaloid examples also exist from other companies, but it is illustrator Kei's Crypton design influence that led to detached sleeves being mislabeled a Vocaloid must-have.
  • Worn by Brian Molko of Post-Punk Revival band Placebo in the official video of "Pure Morning."

    Pro Wrestling 

  • It's all the rage in Basketball these days to wear long arm bands. All the cool folks are wearing 'em: Kobe Bryant, Melo, Lebron James. See it here.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ameiko Kaijitsu is illustrated wearing these in the Jade Regent Pathfinder Adventure Path.

  • Mimi wears detached sleeves in the "Out Tonight" number from RENT. Presumably, this is how she can be a stripper and still hide the fact that she has track marks on her arms.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Xandra from Neopets sports sleeves that are half-detached.
  • Vi Hart wears these most of the time, but they fit fairly close to her arms- probably to lessen the likelihood of her getting permanent marker on them.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Occasionally used in dance and ballet costumes for freer movement of the shoulders, while still being showy.
  • The sleeves on women's kimono (and other traditional Japanese clothes) are unattached underneath. Men's sleeves are sewn shut. This is, naturally, the ultimate source of this trope's prevalence in Japanese works. Poorly done cosplay or Western imitations lack this feature fairly often.
  • Gowns worn by medieval women were often designed with separate sleeves that would be laced to the gown. When you read about a lady giving her knight a sleeve as a token, she simply unlaced a sleeve to do so, instead of taking scissors to her dress. The practical reason for this was that if the sleeves got dirty, and they did, the whole dress wouldn't need to be washed.
    • Garments for men did this as well. Another practical purpose for both was that it allowed one garment to be both a long-sleeved garment in cooler weather, and shorter-sleeved when it got hot. Also, similar to the kimono example above, sleeves often had open armpits for this purpose: In hotter weather, one put their arms through the holes in the armpits rather than through the sleeve.