Help me find short-sleeve shirts that are flattering
April 1, 2010 7:31 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have some good advice on where I can find some cute, short-sleeved tops that don't have cap-sleeves or extremely short sleeves?

I have wide shoulders and well developed muscles (for a girl).

I'm not like a body builder or anything. But, I feel like sleeves are always too short and too tight. But if I get a shirt that fits my shoulders, the body of the shirt is way too blouse-y/baggy. Cap sleeves - both fitted and fluttery just aren't flattering on my arms. If anyone reads Pioneer Woman's Blog, she says it better than I do.

"I can’t wear cap sleeves. On my honor as a former Brownie, I can’t wear cap sleeves! Give me a halter top or give me 3/4-length sleeves. But cap sleeves are not made for my arms. Cap sleeves make my arms look like large Bratwursts. "

Halters are fine for weekends, but I really need to find some suitable tops for my casual workplace. Sleeveless shirts and tanks are too casual.

I've looked everywhere (Kohls, Old Navy, Target, J Crew, LL Bean, Land End, Coldwater Creek, Talbots) and I can not find anything I like!
posted by MorningPerson to Shopping (21 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I feel your pain, having both large shoulders and a large chest. This is probably much more utilitarian than you're looking for, but I bought a bunch of men's plain t-shirts at Old Navy and they're absolutely perfect. They're long enough for my long torso/chest, but somehow they manage to cling nicely along my body instead of looking boxy. I got v-necks to look a little more tidy, and that's also nice and high.

The sleeves are perfect -- not too wide, not too short -- and there are a load of colors. At a size 18ish, I wear a men's XL.

I haaaaate cap sleeves. You'd think that the industry might catch on, especially in clothes made for larger women who might not be so fond of their arms, but nooooooo. Even the "regular" t-shirt arms are super short.
posted by Madamina at 7:39 AM on April 1, 2010

Have you tried out this tee from Target? I love it, bought 3 of them, and the sleeves are longer than cap sleeves for sure. They've got solid in spring/summer colors too.
posted by fontophilic at 7:41 AM on April 1, 2010

Best answer: Would something with longer sleeves (but shorter than 3/4 length) that are looser like this or this work? This one is pretty. This seems to be a style that's popular. I've seen ones like that at a lot of stores. Try department stores like Macy's or Nordstroms or Lord and Taylor. Or a store like TJ Maxx.

Also, for nicer shirts that will last a while, you could by the larger size and get a seamstress to take in the torso for you. This obviously wouldn't be cost effective for t-shirts, but for work shirts it might be good.
posted by bluefly at 7:47 AM on April 1, 2010

I gave up years ago, and I just wear 3/4 length most of the time. That way, I don't have to deal with the aggravation.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:49 AM on April 1, 2010

Response by poster: The tee from Target is cute, but the area between the neck opening and the start of the sleeve is cut narrow enough that the sleeves would start above my shoulders. (The upper seam of sleeve would probably sit close to where by bra strap sits) My clavicles are simply wider than most womens' tees accommodate.

I also have a very short upper body and unusually long legs. Clothes have never been my friend, and shopping is always torture. :-(

Thanks for your input, though!
posted by MorningPerson at 7:50 AM on April 1, 2010

Might elbow-length sleeves work? I think the key to that look is that both the body and the sleeve be fairly fitted (like this). To get a proper fit, you might want to get a shirt with sleeves in a good length/fit, and then have the body tailored.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:03 AM on April 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Rebecca Beeson makes good tops, here are some from Bluefly.

I love J Crew's 3/4 sleeve painter tees, they fit really nicely without being 'frowsy.'

Also, these from J Jill seem nice.

Are these what you have in mind? Or more dressy?
posted by wowbobwow at 8:04 AM on April 1, 2010

Have you looked at American Apparel or Alternative Apparel?
posted by greta simone at 8:09 AM on April 1, 2010

Old Navy has a 3/4 length sleeve boat neck tee that I like. I find myself in a similar situation and I work in DC where it can get super warm so for work, I try to buy cute jackets and cardigans and wear them over tank tops. Hope that helps, I'll check back to see if anyone has good answers for this one!
posted by kat518 at 8:09 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might want to check out the tops at Christopher & Banks. I have many of the same problems you do (well, except for the long legs, but a girl can dream) and my wardrobe is slowly transitioning over to almost exclusively clothes from there. They target the 40 - 60 year old market, but I've seen much younger and much older women shopping there as well.
posted by DrGail at 8:12 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

If these are just for work and not date night, Dickies women's polos and short sleeve button down shirts should be fairly proportionate to built arms / shoulders and can be worn tucked into dress pants for the office. By themselves they aren't cute, but they are a pretty blank canvas that you can cute-isize with accessories and the like. I'm wearing a polo right now with a cute jacket from JCrew for the springy weather.

Oh, they're also not all that expensive and they can take a beating. If you buy them and don't like them, you can still get use out of them wearing them while doing yardwork or anything where you mihgt get a little dirty and need clothing that allows unrestricted movement.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:16 AM on April 1, 2010

I forgot to mention my favorite part about the polos - the underarm seam doesn't get so close to my armpit that sweat soaks through easily. The shirts seem cut to allow airflow and not cause underarm seam chaffing. That sits well with me!
posted by WeekendJen at 8:18 AM on April 1, 2010

Can't speak for them personally, but my SO - also not a cap sleeve fan - was drooling over the Boyfriend V-neck Pocket Tee from Land's End's new Canvas line last night.
posted by joshuaconner at 8:23 AM on April 1, 2010

Best answer: Try Chico's, they cater to a more mature clientele. For example, see this.

I've got a few of their clothes and they seem to last forever.
posted by mareli at 8:24 AM on April 1, 2010

I've got the same problem! I like to get plain, brightly colored men's t-shirts from the gap like these. I'd suggest going into a store to try them on, and check out the sales rack-- you can usually get them on sale for around $10.
posted by veryhappyheidi at 8:36 AM on April 1, 2010

Response by poster: I liked the tops at Chico's and J. Jill - those were definitely the kind of sleeve length I was looking for!
posted by MorningPerson at 9:41 AM on April 1, 2010

Land's End also has a lot of shirts that are not cap sleeve. Just look for the traditional or classic fit like this.

For longer sleeves they have this and this.

If your torso is short be aware that the Fit 1: Modern might be a bit long. I have a long torso and I'm 5'9" and some tanks I have from Land's End that are the modern fit hit below my hip bone but what I linked to is also available in petite.
posted by shmurley at 10:41 AM on April 1, 2010

Also: if you have a Syms store in your area, get thee hence! I find lots of nice designer label things there for much less than what I'd pay on Bluefly or HauteLook. I just got a superb DKNY silk skirt with MSRP of $325 for $40. Marshall's and TJ Maxx also have some similar things but it's much less consistent than at Syms. I think they just got absorbed into Lohmann's, so try there as well.
posted by wowbobwow at 11:50 AM on April 1, 2010

If you like the Chico's and J. Jill options, you might also like the options at Soft Surroundings, where you can search the tops by sleeve length.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:52 AM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Charlotte Russe has some great, cute, sleeveless tops. some are casual some are embellished and some are embroidered and ALL are affordable. I got a couple today.
posted by MXJ1983 at 2:47 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Try Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft. I bought a shirt from Loft a few months ago with sleeves that cover 3/4 of my upper arm.
posted by soupy at 6:42 PM on April 1, 2010

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