Ask Allie: Wearing Sleeves

Fashion Advice
Is there an age when older women should NOT wear sleeveless/short sleeves?? I am almost 60 and I feel when I wear sleeveless tops, people see my jiggley arms and sagginess. Doesn't that detract from the rest of me? It's hard to find elbow length tops/tees/dresses that are stylish. I don't want to look like a granny. Your thoughts??
The first place I gain weight is in my arms and I’ve gained weight lately and haven’t lost the baby weight and I think my arms are HUMONGOUS. I live in Florida and it’s too hot to go in long sleeves, is there a way to distract people from my arms?
I hate my arms, are there stylish options for women who have flabby arms but don’t want to roast in the summertime? I can’t find any, the stores are full of tanks and sleeveless blouses.
My daughter is getting married next spring and I am already looking for what to wear. It seems every formal dress is sleeveless or strapless. I am 65 and my arms are far too old to be exposed in such a manner, any suggestions?

First of all, I hate to break it to you but no one is noticing how big, soft, wrinkled, jiggly, or wriggly your arms are as much as you. Seriously, when was the last time you noticed and woman and thought that her arms were just not nice enough to be exposed in the manner they were? When did you think, “Boy that woman would have looked so much better if she just had sleeves on her blouse.” See this article I wrote on this very subject.

We women are our harshest critics – we see the crooked nose, that one eye is larger than the other, that our knees are knobby and yes, our arms are too big or soft to see the light of day. We will sacrifice comfort, pleasure, and life experiences because of the parts of our bodies that we find unappealing. What is unappealing is a woman who doesn’t live life to its fullest because she doesn’t appreciate her body.

So whether your knees are knobby, your nose crooked, your eyes different shapes, or your arms not like Michelle Obama’s, enjoy your life. Dance, laugh, and walk with confidence. People notice your attitude far faster than they do your body parts. See this article I wrote on this topic.

It’s hot out, and it will be far more attractive to bare your arms than to sweat and steam in extra fabric. However, if some fabric on your sleeves will give you the confidence to walk straighter and dance with more gusto at your daughter’s wedding, here are some suggestions.

Talbots creates clothing for women – clothes that skim curves without clinging, necklines that flatter without exposing too much, and dresses and tops with various sleeve lengths. I love this flutter-sleeve top which will let the breeze cool your arms without exposing too much; their surplice-wrap sash dress (on sale!) is the perfect dress to go from work to play with a quick change of shoes and accessories.

A reader mentioned CAbi in this article’s comments and I couldn’t agree more. Thanks to a friend who is a CAbi consultant, I have gotten to know this line pretty well and find that they too do a great job of dressing to flatter a woman’s curves and any areas of concern. While they already have their fall collection out, you can see from the line that they cut pieces to flatter; their Side Pocket Blouse cold be worn now and the oversized armholes will minimize upper arms nicely.

Lands’ End makes practical clothing with a touch of style. Right now is a great time to shop from them since most of their summer clothes are on sale. Tops like their Cotton Voile Polo, Pintuck Linen Tunic, and Lace Tee give arm coverage while being in fabrics that keep you cool during the hottest months of the year. This season they have so many utterly adorable dresses like their Shirred Linen Sheath and Sateen V-Back Fit and Flare Dress which are high on style but still have sleeves.

When I got married, my mom went to Nordstrom to buy her Mother of the Bride dress. She ended up with a bronze lace-overlay tank, bias-cut long skirt, and sheer jacket. This kept her looking stylish, covered her arms for photo opportunities, but she could take the jacket off when she hit the dance floor. I found a very similar set on their site by Damianou.

The Adrianna Papell Flutter Sleeve Tiered Chiffon Gown gets rave reviews from women who say it’s flattering and nicely covers the arms. The Patra Beaded Flutter Sleeve Mesh Gown would be gorgeous for a formal affair, and this set from Soulmates gives a very similar effect to the ensemble my mom wore to my wedding.

Do know that most Nordstrom stores do not have a large selection of such dresses, however they will have staff who know how to dress you to flatter your figure and can track down certain sizes and styles for you.

Now I ask you readers, where do you shop for dresses and tops that flatter the arms?  Do you feel comfortable exposing your arms in the summer, and if so what helps you have that confidence?

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