Sleeve Width

Another oddball subject, but sleeve width actually can make a difference to a large busted woman. I can almost hear the eyebrows of skepticism being raised but bear with me.

As you will see, wide sleeves can make you look fat. If that is not a good enough reason to read on, what is?

Generally we buy tops, dresses, jackets and outfits with little or no thought for such seemingly irrelevant details as sleeve width and to be fair, it is hardly the most interesting or important issue.

However you should nevertheless undertand the concept as otherwise you could ruin a delightful outfit with this silly but material issue.

Wide Sleeves Can Make
You Look Fat

It really boils down to profile. I will try and explain it but sometimes a picture paints a thousand words. So however poor my sketches below, they do illustrate the way a wide sleeve can broaden your profile.

Conversely, a narrow sleeve makes you look slimmer.

Why Do Manufacturers Make Shirts
With Narrow Sleeves?

As you can see (above), the shirt on the right is a wide sleeve. You can instantly tell that it creates a broader profile and equally it is obvious why - there is a bigger gap between the torso and arms. That reduces the mass of the torso.

Therefore, it is not a evil plan by clothing manufacturers to make us feel like we have big arms, or to save on material. They are simply trying to make us look slimmer. Women with big breasts normally do not want a wide profile anywhere near their chest.

Bulky or, worse still, flapping material anywhere on the top half creates a generally bulky impression and sleeve width plays a part. Generally a tighter sleeve is better fitting and crucially not baggy. You do have a choice, so avoid the wider sleeve if you can.

It again comes back to smoke and mirrors and fooling the eye. The lady on the left (above) is clearly a slim young thing but that sleeve is tight and maximising the look.

Because there is a gap between her arm and torso, you get to see the arm in isolation and subconsciously see it's vertical (slimming) effect.

By contrast, there is no way the lady on the right (above) has arms as big as that. It makes her look bulkier than she is. Never a good thing.

The Armholes Feel Tight On My Shirt

One side effect of slimmer profile sleeves is that the armhole is smaller. You may feel it is very constrictive and struggle to put your arms up without the whole top riding up. Again this is normal. However, again it might make you think you have big arms.

Often-times it is a trade-off. You can choose tops with narrow sleeves and smaller armholes for more formal occasions where the look is important and you are unlikely to be flapping your arms about. Conversely, you can wear more comfortable looser sleeved tops on more casual occasions.

As stated this is a subtle distinction and most ‘off the peg’ tops will have a lower arm hole to suit the ‘one size fits all’ criteria. Lower or larger armholes also generally make putting on and taking off clothes, a lot easier and give you room to move.

My husband tells me that mens tailored (not ‘off the peg’) jackets are also a bit of a pain to put on and take off for exactly the same reason. So men’s tailors clearly know and utilise the same principle.

What Can I Do About My Big Arms?

Firstly, you probably do not have big arms. Once you realise that manufacturers are deliberately making narrow sleeves, as explained above, you will feel a little happier. Simply pick a shirt that has wider sleeves but please, please, please....do not go for a baggy look.

Of course much is dictated by the size and shape of your arms and whether you are prepared to accept more restricted movement for a better fit.

If you look at this military lass she looks like she has arms like Popeye but if you look at her face and waist you quickly realise she is quite slim. At least she has an excuse that she has to wear that top. You have more choice!

Actually the concept of more room to move is also possibly a misnomer. You should also be aware that how it feels to move and how it looks when you move are different.

Yes you have more space to move in a lower arm hole and it feels more airy; but actually when you move the arm the whole piece of material around the arm hole often moves, so it can be detrimental.

Of course you may choose a high armhole jacket and then find the shirt, blouse, dress etc you qare wearing beneath, has a low armhole and becomes ruttled up, which can be uncomfortable.

Finally, it may seem obvious but low or large armholes on short sleeved or sleeveless tops can also create a gap through which the bra can be seen.



Wide Sleeves - Be Careful!

Okay we all know that the massive puffed sleeves of the Elizabethan age were more than a little excessive but they do at least demonstrate the point that big sleeve width creates bulk on your top half. This is something big boobed ladies should look to avoid.

There is generally no modern day equivalent of the Elizabethan excess although I guess Kim Kardashian is making a good stab at it (above). I cannot find a rear view of one of these creations but suspect it may have a sign.

I was interested to read an interview with Kim Kardashian where the journalist was surprised to see how dainty she actually was.

KK - that is Kim Kardashian, not her cup size - said this was a common misconception. Well Kim is it a surprise if you go around sporting that look?

As with everything to do with fashion, or style, much depends on your body shape, as this Gilray caricature (from over two hundred years ago in 1794) of sleeve width fashion shows.


People who liked this page, often also like the following articles:

Sleeve length has a huge effect for big busted women

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Did you like this page, did you learn something, maybe it reinforced you own views? I want to give as much (hopefully helpful) advice to the busty sisterhood as I can.

Please remember, we are all different. You may like to wear certain clothes and styles which I am suggesting that you should not. That is your absolute right. Do what makes you feel good. This site undeniably goes for the more modest approach because I feel all busty ladies already know how to be more racy if they wish.

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This 1830 French cartoon depicts these young ladies brazenly flaunting their wide sleeves at the poor young man. No wonder the cartoon was titled the 'Temptations of the Devil'.



Please ignore the pattern below. Instead look at the sleeves. Even on the minute waist of the mannequin, they add width.


"To wear your heart on your sleeve isn't a very good plan. You should wear it inside, where it functions best."

Margaret Thatcher


No wonder Jane Russell was considered a sex bomb - look at the width of those sleeves!


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