Why Is Everything Sleeveless?!

Recently a reader wrote in with a very good question — “Why is everything sleeveless?” – and honestly it wasn’t something I’d really pondered. Maybe because I am always hot, I’ve greeted the growing trend of all-sleeveless-all-the-time as a super-great advancement in fashion. On the rare occasion I do happen to get chilly, I find it easier (and way, way more comfortable) to throw a blazer or sweater over a sleeveless tank than a blouse. But as our reader pointed out in her email, not everyone, for a variety of very valid reasons, is comfortable in sleeveless, so we asked our experts: why is everything sleeveless?

PH15 Black Sleeveless Dress, $728, available at TSALT.



Although I acknowledge the need for warmth, my point of view comes from a purely aesthetic perspective. Whether you wish to believe this or not, sleeve length will transform a woman’s silhouette.

We get stuck on how we see ourselves in clothing and assume others see us the same way. Au contraire! Call it an optical illusion but sleeveless clothing actually works better on fuller arms than short or cap sleeves.

V-Neck Dress, $298 | Marie Saint Pierre Milestone Dress, $1168. Available at TSALT.

Adding a sleeve creates another line that divides your overall shape. When a woman wears a sleeveless dress or top, those who are looking at her see more of a column or vertical line, which elongates her overall appearance. Sleeves will actually visually widen a silhouette. Designers are aware of this so they create clothing that will be flattering on a variety of women.

Ringley Parrot Dress, $208 | High Collar Dress in Chambray, $245. Available at TSALT.

Watch out for cap sleeves as they tend to hit at the widest part of the arm. Cap sleeves work best on the diagonal and are more flattering than caps that cut straight across. Another consideration is when the sleeve ends parallel to the bust line. If you do NOT want to draw attention to your bust, keep that sleeve length away from that line.



We have customers who love sleeves, sleeveless, and both, so we carry plenty of each style in tops and dresses alike.  If you do like the sleeveless style but it is not be appropriate for a particular event, there is no need to limit yourself; simply layer a blazer, sweater, or wrap to cover up. Or maybe you simply prefer not to show your arms. It is your personal preference and so we happily provide all lengths of sleeves!

Lilla P, $140 | Joie, $298 | Cino, $132. Available at Kiskadee.

STS, $249 | Lilla P, $215. Available at Kiskadee.


  1. Avatar Susan G says:

    I was told some of it was to ensure a better fit – designers have a hard time designing for arm size/lengths. I was also told it is a money saving strategy for designers – less material, less cost.

  2. Avatar Victoria Fox says:

    No one mentions the people who just don’t like their upper arms.

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