To Sleeve or not to Sleeve?


Sleeves can become an issue when shopping for new clothes.

When purchasing a new dress, the purchase can often fall down because of the sleeves (or lack of).

There seems to be three main reasons that sleeves can be an issue:

1. Work based – it is deemed more appropriate to wear a sleeve in the office environment – even if it is just a capped sleeve.

2. Personal Dislike – you dislike your upper arms and like to keep them covered up with a sleeve.

3. The sleeve and/or sleeve hole is not cut in the same proportion as the rest of the garment – therefore not allowing room for your arms.

It can often be tricky trying to balance all your desires including sleeves into that one elusive dress.

Often manufacturers will not have sleeves on a dress to cut back costs – that extra bit of sewing, fitting and fabric.

It can also be a ‘fashion’ based problem. Sleeves may not be ‘in fashion’ or it is deemed ‘summer’ so long sleeves are not chosen.

Also when you find a dress you like with a full length sleeve – actually you’d prefer a mid-length sleeve!

What can you do?

  • Try some different clothing brands – different companies cut their clothes in different ways
  • Layer up shirts and long sleeved tops underneath sleeveless dresses and tops.

I have found a range of dresses with sleeves for you to browse. Some work appropriate and some are more evening/casual. But all have sleeves!

Dresses with Short Length Sleeves
Maison Martin Margiela Stretch-ponte dress Short Sleeves
lucille bodycon sheer panels felt dress by Acne Short sleeves

Oscar de la Renta Printed stretch-cotton poplin dress Mid-length sleeve

Dresses with Mid Length Sleeves

Erdem Ivy silk-blend jacquard dress Mid-length sleeve

Detroit Fitted Dress Mid-length sleeves
Richard Nicoll Illusion scuba-jersey and silk-blend jersey dress Mid-length sleeves
Dresses with Long-Length Sleeves

Fleur B. Oxford Shift Dress Black  Long sheer sleeves
Roland Mouret Serizzo stretch-knit dress Long sleeves
Diane von Furstenberg New Julian Two silk-jersey wrap dress Long sleeves

“But does it come in black?”

Having worked in the City I have experienced the busy lifestyle and culture. I found as a woman that buying work clothes for the city can be a very frustrating experience; navigating the mysteries of the office dress code, the demands of the daily timetable and the limitations of what is available to buy in the shops.

The work place sets its own dress code. Some of these rules are written down by management -‘no sleeveless tops, no short skirts’, and some rules are unspoken (often more difficult to get a grasp on) e.g. no bold colours.

In addition women set their own personal rules; I can only buy sleeves to this length, I need to cover my neck.

To add flames to the fire, women’s work days can be from 8am – 8pm and beyond- encompassing a wide variety of roles and activities.

Women’s clothing has to be adaptable for:

the morning commute, for the mid morning coffee break, at the desk, meeting clients, presentations, interviews, office and team meetings, fixing the printer paper jam, fielding phone calls etc……

and then into the evening……

dinner with clients, drinks to clinch that deal, the opening of a client’s art gallery exhibit, the opera because the boss had tickets, coffee house to finish a document and then there is that networking event booked ages ago.

With all these aspects to take into account it’s a wonder anyone can find anything to wear! Variety is the spice of life but sometimes it can be the cause of wardrobe migraines!

Whilst working in retail in London City, women would come in and look at a dress and say;

“I love it, but does it come in black?” (My answer was usually no, with a sad face)

“If it had sleeves this dress would be perfect”

“Why are all the hemlines so short? I can’t wear that to work”

City women love the new ideas, design details and styles yet the pieces don’t take into account the work environment and make shopping tricky and stressful (especially when rushing out on your lunch hour!).

Finding pieces that are versatile, different and suitable for work becomes are hard task. When designing for my new dress collection I have these things running through my mind;

Is this too low for the office? Can I adapt it into a different look or outfit? Is the hemline suitable for work?

Women quite rightly demand a lot from their clothes. Does any of this ring true for you?

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