Shopping & Style

Shopportunities: Sleeves, please

In a world of so many sleeveless garments, here’s how to add sleeves for those who don’t like baring their arms.

BY January 26, 2016




"I like dresses but don’t like showing my arms. So many dresses are sleeveless—why is it so hard to find one with sleeves?"                                

 —Vanessa P., Cape Coral

This is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive in my mailbox. From a retailer’s perspective, garments without sleeves fit a wider range of figure types and are easier to tailor. That’s hardly an answer for those of us who want sleeved options, but there is a ray of hope—the fact that sleeveless garments are easier to alter also means a good tailor or dressmaker will most likely be able to add sleeves.

Dressier garments can be transformed with the addition of sleeves in lace, chiffon or organza; black dresses can look particularly good with sleeves made from black “illusion” (a stretchy, see-through, fine-mesh fabric). Another option is to wear a crisp shirt or blouse under a fitted strapless dress. It gives a “corset” vibe and looks surprisingly sexy and cool, yet still gives you full coverage on your arms.

Cheryl Lampard, founder of Style Matters International, answers your questions each month. If you have a question for Cheryl, send it to


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