Where to find elbow-sleeve work shirts?
October 9, 2014 5:30 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find slightly fancy, office-appropriate, preferably elbow-sleeve tops? Snowflakes inside.

I'm a lady who is about to start a new job where the office dress code, in writing, is "jeans every day." However, when I went to the interview, the actual dress code for women seemed to be "funky, stylish Sunday best, dark-wash jeans ok." (The men all wore button-up shirts and dark-wash jeans.)

I'm about to turn thirty and I was a fashion-challenged teenager at best. I'm terrible at dressing for the office and usually end up wearing all black, all the time. I'd like to make a great impression at this office, and also be remembered for my awesome work, not my fashion choices. I'm a size 10ish, long-torsoed with boobs and a stubborn post baby belly. I also live in the Northeast and it's about to be winter.

I have a couple of nice pairs of dark-wash jeans already, as well as a pair of fine-wale dark blue corduroys. I also have a couple of brightly-colored cardigans. But I can't seem to find any brightly colored or somehow otherwise interesting, age appropriate, non-cleavage-revealing, loose-enough-to-mostly-hide-my-belly, fancy-enough-to-dress-up-jeans tops. I'm most comfortable in elbow-length sleeves, or perhaps a bit shorter.

Direct links especially welcome, as are other clothing item suggestions. Where do you buy your cute, work-appropriate adult clothes?
posted by woodvine to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
What's your price range? You'll get better advice if you tell us that.

LOFT has some cute shirts of this description (though their quality has really gone down recently, so I wouldn't make a full wardrobe out of LOFT stuff). This and this and this all jumped out to me.

I get about 95% of my work clothes from J.Crew, though my office sounds dressier than yours. Nonetheless they do have a lot of fun pieces, including plenty that meet your elbow length requirement (I also prefer that length).
posted by schroedingersgirl at 5:38 AM on October 9, 2014

Hello, my fellow long-torsoed size 10! Have you tried Eddie Bauer's Tall Shop? Or Boden's tunics? I have a button-up shirt from Long Tall Sally I like, but I'm not seeing anything great in their current offerings.

(Ignore all this except for the tunics if you are not, in fact, tall.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:47 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, and Lands End also has shirts for the long-torsoed.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:48 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was just at Marshall's on Monday and they were chock full of exactly these shirts. I know Marshall's/Ross/TJMax can't be counted on for any kind of stock consistency, but I'm telling you: it's just about all they had just a few days ago. Might be worth checking out.

I'd also like to lobby hard for scarves. Amazon has a ton of very brightly colored very inexpensive but also nice looking scarves. Throw one of those over a plain white or black shirt that you already like, and boom, you're a fancy person.

And don't discount the magic of a pair of brightly colored shoes to trendy up an otherwise bland outfit.
posted by phunniemee at 5:58 AM on October 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm 5' 8" and my price range is... medium? I'd prefer not to spend more than $75 on pants or $50 on shirts. I love it when I can find high quality items on sale.
posted by woodvine at 6:14 AM on October 9, 2014

Most of my work wardrobe comes from Marshalls and TJMaxx. You can't really go there with the plan to stock up, but their selection is almost always good for one new shirt any time I wander through. Though we're not talking impressive quality or anything, their tops are generally non-cheap enough to look good for a couple of years of intermittent office wear. My general work wardrobe is a patterned shirt, or a solid shirt with another item (scarf, cardigan, jacket, necklace).
posted by aimedwander at 6:31 AM on October 9, 2014

Yes to scarves (Cheaper than necklaces, which you should also get a few of down the line as they can dress up a borderline shirt.) I'd consider getting a few wool or knit blazers which can dress up less fancy tops.

I've had surprisingly good luck in the fancy designer section of Kohl's. Boden has been great for dresses, but have not tried many of their shirts (Overall I have a terrible time finding blouses that fit right so it may not apply to you.) I have gotten some sleeveless shells through JCrew Factory online.

Would dresses be too much? I've just discovered the ease of a ponte knit dress with boots and a sweater and either a necklace/scarf or skinny belt.
posted by typecloud at 6:32 AM on October 9, 2014

Jones New York is great for this. I am 5"6 and I buy their petites so I think their regular size is actually tall.
posted by rada at 6:35 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think the search term you can use when trying to find "elbow length shirts" is "3/4 length sleeve shirts".

And as to where I find them - a hell of a lot of my wardrobe actually comes from thrift shops, Old Navy and eBay. (Even more so now that I am in a place where I can wear jeans when I want.) Every so often I will just do an ebay search in the category of "women's tops", narrowing down to 3/4 length sleeve and selecting just my size, and I'll throw a lowish bid onto whatever comes up that I like. If I get it, great, if I don't, no big. I got 2 plaid shirts that way this season, and then a third at a thrift shop (which perfectly matched a cardigan I got at yet another thrift shop).

Seconding scarves - I have a whole range of scarves that dress things up. Jeans, a light cardigan over a white t-shirt and a scarf is a great look, and you can swap one color cardigan or scarf out for another.

Don't discount different color jeans either - I have a pair of red jeans that has seen heavy rotation in my wardrobe. And vests can also be fun.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:39 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, another good thing about eBay - a lot of the sellers actually list the specific measurements of the shirt, so you aren't stuck playing the guessing-game of "okay, is THIS a size large that will fit me or not," you can see that "oh, it's a 44 inch bust? Perfect, that'll fit" or "oh, it's only a 38-inch bust, that wouldn't work."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:40 AM on October 9, 2014

Best answer: I'm a considerably petite girl, and almost all my shirts - especially the dress shirts - are three-quarter sleeved or longer (and can thus be rolled up INTO three-quarter sleeved).

I also work at Banana Republic over school breaks and online shop like an addict, so I'd recommend the non-iron fitted or the soft wash button-down oxford shirts from BR (because they're honestly two of the easiest things to wash and wear, not because I work there - these shirts are one of the only things worth truly investing in from there, aside from the Sloan pants). I'd also recommend Forever 21, especially the Love 21 section of the store/site. Honestly, the quality of the chiffon blouses are surprising. These shirts are durable, fashionable, and very versatile; the colors are fantastic and I get the most compliments on my wardrobe for F21's more recent pieces.

I have a slew of recommendations beyond what I said, but these three are the best I could start off with for now.
posted by ourt at 6:41 AM on October 9, 2014

Do they need to just BE half-sleeve or can they roll? Because most of Express's portofino shirts can roll with a loop to keep it in place. I have a few of them, and tend to grab them when they're on sale. Sign up for their emails and they do online only flash sales for an extra percent of clearance.

I also agree that you'll really be searching for 3/4 sleeve. Most women's clothing cuts of there instead of a true half-sleeve.

I also LOVE shopping Nordstrom Rack, but I obviously don't have anything specific to link to. Do you have one near you? Don't forget about Macy's, especially a one-day sale.

I've see some similar styles in JC Penny and similar. Online on JCP you can search by sleeve length. So here's a search for 3/4, roll, and elbow.

I also really really love this blouse from Forever 21, but I refuse to buy it as I'm sure the color would wash me out. I'm actually really liking Forever 21 stuff for fall/winter. Their summer clothes are barely clothes, but they have some good stuff now!

Unfortunately a lot of it's just hunting (I have tattoos down to about my elbow, so I always buy elbow length or below, unless it's sleeveless to layer. I just did a crap-ton of shopping for my work dress code to, so memail me if you want to kinda see my haul or talk about style. I'm not the most stylish, but have felt more trendy as of late.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:52 AM on October 9, 2014

Dress Barn and Modcloth both have some nice items.
posted by freshwater at 6:54 AM on October 9, 2014

Best answer: Modbod. I have several of their 3/4 sleeve shirts and they're PERFECT.
posted by asockpuppet at 7:10 AM on October 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

I buy lots of my work clothes at Eddie Bauer, LLBean and Lands' End. Eddie Bauer has very nice wrinkle-free 3/4-sleeve shirts in both solids and patterns.

As an aside, my workplace is also jeans-friendly and I really like to wear a nice blazer with my dark jeans -- it dresses them up. Blazers may not be your thing, though.
posted by Lescha at 8:36 AM on October 9, 2014

Nthing lands end. I have a ton of their 3/4 sleeve shirts. So easy to care for and they last forever.
posted by pearlybob at 8:49 AM on October 9, 2014

I have gotten my best work clothing from thrift shops. Something about "that's a nice shirt and it's only 3$!!!" helps me step outside of my all-black comfort zone. (OK, honesty time: I probably spend about 20$ per shirt, because for a while I was buying a lot of things that turned out to be rejects, but this is still a great rate and I have learned a lot about what kind of fabrics and cuts I am willing to wear.)

(Side note: Make sure you're comparing your wardrobe to people who have similar job titles to you. Our female developers, where women are unfortunately underrepresented, wear the same casual clothing as the male developers, unless they just really like being dressy in which case it is usually super fancy but very personalized. Female manager-types, where women are overrepresented, wear business-dressy-boring clothing. Most of us also wear heavy sweaters over that because offices are coooold.)
posted by anaelith at 5:28 AM on October 10, 2014

« Older Campervan rental in Las Vegas?   |   Paris for a 70 year old Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.