Hello gals! Today I thought I’d broach the quandary of what to do about our flabby, fat upper arms. LOL! Well, change that. Let’s talk about what I should do about MY flabby, fat upper arms! I’m definitely working to tone my upper arms with strength training exercises for my triceps, but I also wanted to know how to minimize them when I dress.
Now I’m not really a proponent of hiding behind our clothes. But I am a firm believer in dressing in such a way as to maximize the positives and minimize the, um, less than positives. In this post in last year’s style series, I provided an overview of how to identify and dress your unique body variations. Those variations include things like a large bosom, a small bosom, thick ankles, a thick waist, an ample derriere, etc.
But I didn’t address how to minimize large upper arms in that post. And a lot of us more mature gals find our once toned, or at least slim, arms looking a little fat and flabby as we lose muscle mass. I have a link to an exercise video you might find helpful at the end of the post. But for now, let’s talk about how we can use sleeve choice and other style cues to help us minimize our larger upper arms with fashion.
First…know the enemy.
You can certainly still wear them. I know I will. But let’s understand that the basic t-shirt with a sleeve that hits mid upper arm and features a horizontal hem is the worst sleeve for a woman with large upper arms. The snugness of the fit, the fact that it hits right at the fullest place and the horizontal line add up to big trouble.
Like I said, I’ll undoubtedly still wear these basic tees. But this is definitely the time to add that fitted blazer, fun denim jacket, flowing kimono or cardigan.
#1 – Wear 3/4 length sleeves.
The 3/4 length sleeve is the most universally flattering sleeve length for women because it exposes a bit of the forearm and wrist, which are generally the smaller and more feminine part of any woman’s arm.
You can also utilize this sleeve length by cuffing or rolling up your long sleeves to this more flattering proportion, as in the above photo on the left. But it’s quite easy to find a large selection of 3/4 length sleeves in the stores during spring, too.
#2 – Add some interesting details to the cuff of the sleeve of a 3/4 length or long sleeve.
When you have a little interest on the sleeve further down the arm, the details draw the eyes away from the bicep and tricep area.
#3 – Wear an elbow length sleeve.
These days we’re seeing a lot of elbow length sleeves in fashions, too. These hit right at the bend of the elbow, concealing the entire upper arm. But you do want to make sure that the sleeve fits slightly loose on your arm, not tight.
In the photo above, the shirt on the left features an elbow sleeve with a nice width. Now if this shirt sleeve fits too snugly you’ll lose the pleasing effect, so beware. On the right we see a beautiful spring blouse that features loose ties at the end of the 3/4 length sleeve, drawing attention away from the upper arms.
#4 – Wear a full flutter sleeve.
A flutter sleeve creates visual interest and doesn’t fit snug to the arm, creating a visually smaller upper arm. For maximum effect, choose an elbow length flutter sleeve like the one to the left in the photo above. But if you want to wear a short sleeve, just choose a flutter sleeve that has a diagonal hem, like the one to the right. The diagonal hem is more slimming than a horizontal one.
#5 – Choose sleeveless options wisely.
If you’d like or need to, you can still go sleeveless. But if you’ll go with wider shoulder straps instead of spaghetti straps, you’ll minimize the heft of your uppers arms and your shoulders. Spaghetti straps visually enlarge the area around them.
Depending on the rest of your build (your shoulders, neck, etc.) sleeveless tops can actually be very flattering for a woman with fuller upper arms. Why? Because the focus is drawn to your shoulders, which is conventionally called the most flattering part of a woman’s body.
Cap sleeves, as in the photo above on the right, are often considered the worst sleeves for a woman with thicker upper arms. But if you do choose a cap sleeve, simply make sure it has a diagonal hem.
#6 – Use lace or crochet sleeves to camouflage the upper arms.
Fortunately these two beautiful forms of camouflage are trending right now. Make sure you choose sleeves that do not fit too tightly, but lacy or crocheted sleeves can also hide other imperfections, such as skin issues. Yep. I have those, too.
#7 – Stay away from short cap sleeves if possible.
Very short cap sleeves are everywhere. And they’re lovely. But if you’re trying to minimize fuller upper arms, you’ll do better to steer clear of these. Why? They cut right at the place where the thickness begins and draw attention to that area as well.
If you do want to wear a short cap sleeve, choose a flutter sleeve that has some volume, like the one above and to the left. The fullness of that flutter sleeve would make the arm look a little smaller in proportion.
#8 – Wear a v-neck shirt or top or dress.
I know a lot of us gals also lose confidence in our necks and decolletage as we age. So we may be tempted to shy away from exposing necklines. But the v-neck silhouette is truly the most flattering for most women. It draws attention to the face and exposes the collar bones, another very feminine and alluring feature of most women.
You’ll notice most of the examples I’ve selected feature v-necks.
#9 – Choose short sleeves with a diagonal hemline or create one if possible.
Sometimes a girl just needs to wear a basic t-shirt, right? But the traditional short sleeve that features a horizontal hem is potentially the worst sleeve for gals with fuller upper arms.
Try rolling up the sleeves of your t-shirt just a little to create a diagonal hemline instead. That may sound counter intuitive to expose more of your arm. But that diagonal line really does the trick!
Of course, you can also just select tops like the ones above, which feature fuller short sleeves that are hemmed on the diagonal.
#10 – Work the proportions and angles.
In the shirt below and to the left, the 3/4 length sleeves are perfect for the woman with full upper arms. But that cinched waist also creates more space between the arms and the body, giving the illusion of smaller upper arms. Also the interest in the center of the shirt draws the attention away from the arms.
And in the dress above, those ultra full elbow length sleeves cascade over and conceal larger upper arms. But the cinched, belted waist also draws attention away from the problem area.
BONUS Tip – Use jewelry or a scarf to draw attention away.
You can pull the focus to a more flattering part of the body with jewelry or a scarf. Looking back at all the tops featured above, picture an interesting necklace within the v-necks or on the neckline of the top. Or you could use a scarf in the same way. Again, earrings draw attention up to the face. Bracelets, especially with a 3/4 length sleeve or shorter sleeve, can draw attention down to the hands. Just make sure your bracelets are a little roomy and create the illusion of a smaller wrist.
I hope these fashion tips helped if you are looking for alternatives that will minimize your fuller upper arms. It certainly helped me to research this topic. I’ll still revert back to that horizontal sleeve every now and again, but at least I can be aware.
Meanwhile, I’m also upping my exercise routine for my upper arms. I found this video with 7 great exercises that target the triceps, the area on the back or underneath of our upper arms. I’m incorporating these into my workout at least 4 times per week, and we’ll see if I see any difference in a few weeks!
Shop these looks:
I’m including a shopping widget with all of the tops above. These are affiliate links, so I do potentially earn a commission if you purchase something through them. Thank you for shopping my links and supporting what I do here at Dressed for My Day. I really appreciate it!
06/04/2020: I’ve updated this shopping widget with current offerings. PLUS, I’ve noted the benefit of each in the caption.
By the way, it would do me a world a good if you would pin this post to one of your Pinterest boards!!! Thanks so much!
Blessed for My Day
When you get shaken, what comes out? Know how I mean? When life bumps up against you, what spills out of your mouth, what shines in your eyes and what comes from your hands and feet? I’ll have to admit, sometimes ugly comes out of me in such times.
But I’d prefer the fruit of the Spirit to spill out. The only way I know to ensure that God’s character comes forth when life bumps up against me is to be walking in the Spirit at all times. That begins before my feet hit the floor in the morning. I must choose to listen and lean in to the Spirit of God rather than giving in to the flesh of my own spirit throughout my day. Then when the world bumps up against me, His character will be more likely to spill forth.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. ~ Galatians 5:22-23