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Hand-Hiding Sleeves

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Clockwise from top left: Loaded Sleeves, Cute Sleeves, Sneaky Sleaves, High Class Sleeves and Oversized Sleeves

"You'll happily show your navel, but it means marriage for your hands? You definitely have something up your sleeve, don't you!"
Okuni, Warriors Orochi 3

What's an easy way to make a character seem a bit quirky? Give them loose sleeves!

Whatever the reason, no matter how impractical it may be, this character will have sleeves that extend much farther than their wrists. In terms of length, these sleeves can range from "barely-visible fingertips" to "completely hidden hands", or in extreme cases, to "floor-length". Most of the time, the entire shirt is too big for the wearer, but sometimes, the character will be wearing an otherwise well-fitted shirt and only the sleeves will be oversized.

This trope has five Internal Subtropes;

  • Cute Sleeves - Most characters with oversized sleeves have them to mark them out as "cute" (this might come from young children wearing oversized clothes that they're expected to "grow" intonote  or inherited from an older relative - additionally, hands signify power and capability, and covering them implies helplessness and vulnerability, a key component of being "cute").
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  • Oversized Sleeves - Oversized sleeves from ill fitting clothes may mark the character out as too poor to afford clothes that fit or too odd to care enough about it.
  • High Class Sleeves - Conversely, long sleeves on properly fitted clothes can mark the wearer out as rich, since they can afford such an impressive outfit and they are unaffected by the impracticality of long sleeves because they rarely need to do any work with their hands.
  • Sneaky Sleeves - Long sleeves can be used to show that a character is untrustworthy, hiding something, just plain creepy, or at the very least mysterious. This tends to be associated with Inscrutable Oriental characters (and is a staple of the outfits of Yellow Peril villains). Sneaky Sleeves tend to be combined with hoods, and are often worn by wizards.
  • Loaded Sleeves - The character in question has some sort of Hidden Weapon up his sleeves (most commonly a large Blade Below the Shoulder that normal sleeves would be unable to completely conceal). Magic users can also use their sleeves as a medium through which they cast spells for the same effect. If the sleeves are weapons, rather than simply hiding them, it overlaps with Clothing Combat and Cloth Fu.

Keep in mind that there tends to be a lot of overlap between these subtropes (hence why they don't have their own pages). In particular, examples of hidden weapons tend to fall into other types as well, especially "cute" ones (for this reason, there's an unsurprising trend of big sleeves appearing on Badass Adorables). Sneaky Sleeves and Loaded Sleeves also go hand-in-hand for obvious reasons, although one does not necessarily entail the other.

The traditional clothing of several cultures features oversized sleeves, and even now, some people prefer long sleeves over gloves, making this trope Truth in Television.

Contrast Sleeves Are for Wimps. Compare Conspicuous Gloves.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In One Piece, Caribou's shirt has very long sleeves that extend past his fingertips. He can turn the tips of his sleeves into a mud-like substance (thanks to the power of his Swamp-Swamp Fruit) and use them to spew copious amounts of mud at people. He's also a deranged psycho who likes to bury his enemies alive and kidnap people with his mud power. His shirt actually resembles an buckle-less straitjacket.
  • The Second Mizukage from Naruto would fit in the High Class Sleeves subtrope. When his arms are resting alongside his body, or completely extended, his hands will be completely covered. However when he bends his elbows the hands will be visible.
    • Also applies to Dosu Kinuta; his Sneaky Sleeves combined with his hunched-over stance and dog head-tilts creates a creepy vibe around him.
  • Afro Samurai featured a Yellow Peril styled assassin amongst the ones the Empty Six hired to kill Afro. He played the "hidden blade" version of this trope to the hilt.
  • Bleach:
    • Cyan Sung-Sun has extremely long sleeves that she always uses to cover her mouth and hide her weapon, making her sleeves a cross between the "high class" and "hidden weapons" variants. Traditionally, it was improper for a Japanese woman to show others the inside of her mouth, and the fact that she keeps her weapon hidden up her sleeve in a literal version of Silk Hiding Steel only reinforces the traditional-Japanese-woman vibe she gives off.
    • Luppi hides his hands inside his slightly oversized sleeves half the time. It's a combination of "cute" and "creepy". Considering his androgyny, boastful attitude, and belligerent creepiness, it basically serves to make him less likable.
  • In Lucky Star, Akira Kogami wears "cute" oversized sleeves as part of her Deliberately Cute Child persona, although she's really a total bitch. Yutaka is a straighter example of the “cute” aspect of this trope.
  • Xerxes Break of Pandora Hearts wears a coat with oversized sleeves that immediately mark him as a quirky character who is hiding something, and sure enough, he's one of the sneakier (and creepier) characters in the series. He also tries to invoke the “cute” aspect of this trope, but most people just think it's weird.
  • The ridiculously powerful witch Varete from Witch Hunter uses this trope with detached sleeves. They're "High Class Sleeves" mixed with "Loaded Sleeves" in that they tend to add to her regal and elegant bearing. While she doesn't hide any weapons in her sleeves, she has the ability to control any and all shadows, including the ones under her sleeves, so she's technically storing potential weapons there.
  • Luki and Noki from Dogs: Bullets & Carnage wear matching coats with oversized sleeves. These sleeves serve two purposes: 1) making them even more adorable than they already are, and 2) hiding the truly monstrous weaponry that they keep stored in their artificial arms.
  • Choza Habaki from Itsuwaribito wears his kimono sleeves so that they cover his poisoned hand claws when he isn't fighting. Furthermore, he is an itsuwaribito (basically a thug/thief/trickster hybrid) himself, which makes his sleeves an example of loaded sleeves and sneaky sleeves.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
  • Honne Nohotoke of Infinite Stratos almost always have these as default, from her Custom Uniform up to her pajamas.
  • Tooru from A Channel wears a much too large cardigan most of the time. Averted during the summer when she switches it for a vest.
  • Mashiro's school uniform's blouse in Engaged to the Unidentified.
  • In Ranma ½, master of hidden weapons Mousse often wears a Chinese robe with long sleeves from which he can pull a seemingly endless stream of weapons. Ranma wears a similar robe in one battle against Mousse (to hide the fact that he's turned into a girl and can't turn back to a man for the time being) with sleeves even longer than Mousse's, mocking his habits of hiding weaponry in his clothes.
  • Ougi Oshino from Bakemonogatari has these of the sneaky variety, often holding his/her hands over or near their mouth when they take up the role of a self-proclaimed detective. Seemingly everyone other than Koyomi Araragi is aware, including the audience, that Ougi is capable of psychological mischief.
  • In Pop Team Epic, seemingly "cutesy sleeves" are actually hiding Pipimi's bloodstained hands.

    Comic Books 
  • Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman: In "Wonder World" Riley's awkward tall thin friend has a far too large sweater that covers her hands. In this case the sleeves manage to combine the cutesy and odd implications.

    Films — Animation 
  • Dopey from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs wears an example of the "cute" and "odd" types, helping to mark him out as the Plucky Comic Relief.
  • Fievel Mouskewitz in An American Tail has these thanks to his oversized red jersey, which fits him into the "cute" and "poor" types.
  • Edmund from Rock-A-Doodle sports these as well. Maybe Don Bluth just likes this trope.
  • Mickey Mouse has these as the Sorcerer's Apprentice in Fantasia. In this case, they serve to emphasize his inexperience.
  • During the Matchmaker sequence in Mulan, Mulan's outfit includes a top with very long sleeves, probably meant to be High-Class Sleeves to show off her family's standing. Mulan herself finds them a nuisance, and when she gets home she folds them back to her wrists.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Phantom Menace, Queen Amidala of Naboo wears voluminous and obviously high quality robes with massive sleeves in order to match the expectation that one of her station should appear imposing and dignified. In later films, the gowns she wears as a senator are more practical, though just as gorgeous.
  • In Shinobi: Heart Under Blade, the live-action adaptation of Kōga Ninpōchō, with was also adapted in Basilisk, Yashamaru wears floor-length sleeves that hide his Razor Floss. From a filmmaker's perspective, the sleeves had a practical use: Yashamaru's wires were animated with CGI, which is expensive, and so simply having him whip these massive sleeves around when fighting up close took away the necessity of animating each individual wire.
  • Most every filmic depiction of The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (A Christmas Carol) has the Sneaky Sleeves version of this trope, combined with the cloak and hood that hides all of the ghost's features. (Rather apropos, since it's usually heavily implied that he is The Grim Reaper.)

  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Lord Varys, the Spider. His normal court attire are robes with long sleeves, sometimes with pockets in them, and he usually keeps his hands folded in front of him, hiding them within said sleeves. This plays well into his character; a master of deception with an intricate network of spies and informants all across the world.
  • Female Vorin fashion in The Stormlight Archive involves this as a religious imperative: Noble ladies are expected to hide a "safehand" (their left hand) in a pinned-up sleeve or glove (it is considered obscene to expose it), but they don't care about the right. They capitalize on this by hiding a "safepouch" in their pinned-up sleeve with similar taboos applied to the things stored inside.
  • Xandri Corelel likes wearing soft, baggy tunics that cover her hands. She doesn't really fall into any of the subtropes - she just finds it more comfortable.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt's character Sarah Reeves from Party of Five wore the "cute" variation and helped popularize this trope in America.
  • Skye in Agents Of Shield wears these when relaxing on The Bus. It's a combination of "quirky" and "cute", with a touch of "deceptive".

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, module WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, the PCs can find robes with very long sleeves. The robes and their oversized sleeves are useful later in an extremely cold underground area the party must explore, because if their hands are exposed, they'll get frostbite.


    Video Games 
  • Uriko in Bloody Roar 2 wears jackets that hide her hands, at least until she turns into a Cat Girl, which causes her arms to grow considerably. As seen in the trope image, they make for a strange look, because the sleeves are very long compared to the well-fitted jacket. They're an example of "cute" sleeves, and considering how the sleeves hide her hands, which become claws, they're also "Loaded Sleeves".
  • BlazBlue has the Kaka clan, a race of Attack Animal creatures wearing oversized hoodies with long sleeves that are actually closed at the ends, although there are slots for their claws.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Niko, the Player Character of OneShot, has an oversized red sweater with sleeves covering the hands.
  • Sanzang Fashi (otherwise known as Genjo Sanzo) of Warriors Orochi has massive sleeves which she uses as weapons. The fact that they completely conceal her hands piqued Okuni's curiosity in Warriors Orochi 3 and led her to provide us with the page quote.
  • Hsien-ko/Rei-Rei of Darkstalkers is a Chinese Vampire who wears a Cheongsam with long "funnel" sleeves that cover every part of her arms except the ends of her massive claws. And as if those weren't enough, she uses her sleeves to hide a number of other weapons.
  • Lidelle from Puyo Puyo has GIGANTIC sleeves. She's shy and kind, and is sometimes depicted in-game as using said sleeves to cast her storm-based spells, possibly to whip up the the air for her wind-based spells. It's also worth mentioning Lidelle is not human and is embarrassed by her odd characteristics, suggesting that the sleeves are hiding claws and/or inhuman arms.
  • The shorter of a pair of zoot suit-wearing bosses in the arcade game of The Simpsons, though still oversized compared to the Simpsons, attacks with such sleeves.
  • Nearly all of the female characters in Ōkami wear sleeves that cover their hands, proper-sleeves style. The main exceptions are Sakuya (in her second outfit) and the priestess Rao — and Amaterasu herself, of course.
  • F.A.N.G. of Street Fighter V has a pair of truly impressive hand-covering sleeves on both his costumes. Notably, despite being of the Sneaky Sleeves variety, this is more than just a design choice; his Critical Art has him jump in the air and stay aloft by flapping his giant sleeves like wings (while he screams like a maniac) and spread poison all over the place. The Cinematic Story Mode adds another layer to this and reveals that he actually needs them. His hands constantly produce a highly corrosive poison, thus when not in combat, he keeps his hands hidden in his sleeves so he doesn't melt everything he touches.
  • Shadow Naoto from Persona 4 wears a lab coat with oversized sleeves, highlighting the real Naoto's insecurities about being looked down upon due to her age and gender.
  • The seal-like Shiverians from Super Mario Odyssey have their hands hidden in the long sleeves of their sweaters.
  • Hyness from Kirby Star Allies has sleeves like this and he is the game's Big Bad.
  • Tsih from SORA has this as a combination of cute and oversized.
  • Blanc from Neptunia also has this in most of her appearences.
    • Same with IF due to her jacket being too big for her. She even lampshades about it when shooting at her enemies in the first game.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the "cute" variant is used by Larry Butz. His "happy" animation has him pull his hand into his sleeve and let the sleeve droop down as he waves his hand back and forth. This is always accompanied by a Blush Sticker.
  • Sakutaro from Umineko: When They Cry is the "cute" variant, being a stuffed lion that also takes the form of a cute little boy with animal ears who wears a shirt that's much too big for him.
    • Beatrice and Virgilia's dresses on the other hand, feature the high class variant.
  • Hsiao-Lan, Lee Meijiu's child spy in Rose Guns Days is a mysterious Little Miss Badass who wears a rather elegant but slightly oversized attire, in which she hides small knives; she has her cute moments too. So yeah, she combines all five subtropes.

    Web Animation 
  • In TOME, Alpha wears a shirt with sleeves that cover his hands. It falls under the "cute sleeves" variant, and, coupled with a scarf that occasionally covers his mouth, it is mostly used to emphasize his shy and unassuming personality.

    Web Comics 
  • The real bandits in Hero Oh Hero both have large sleeves as part of their armour, combining this trope with Tin Tyrant. They seem to hide their weapons up them and their magic is projected from the cuffs.

    Western Animation 
  • Numbuh Three from Codename: Kids Next Door wears a green sweater with overly long sleeves. She's also an innocent, ditzy, and simple-minded girl.
  • Jen from Downtown is a big fan of these and is hardly seen out of her oversized sweater.
  • Ming Hua from The Legend of Korra appears with these at one point, doubling as sneaky sleeves and loaded sleeves, since she has no arms and is simultaneously concealing this and her waterbending tendrils.
  • Dramatically, yet also hilariously Lampshaded in this scene from a Hey Arnold! episode when Arnold and Grandma Gertie try to release a turtle from an aquarium after Arnold goes on a class field trip there, warning Grandma Gertie not to get too close to its mouth.
  • Eddie, the wet-nosed newspup, in Dog City, indicating both cuteness and poverty. (The Muppet Wiki describes him as "Garbed as a Dick Tracy-esque street urchin.")

    Real Life 
  • The "cute" and "high class" subtropes are common components of various outfits (with the former being mainly used on casual wear and the latter on formal wear).
  • Long sleeves with weights in them were actually considered concealed weapons in some parts of the world and carrying one is still a felony in three states.


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