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Where did all the sleeves go?

netizen | Posted in General Discussion on

Someone gave me a skirt that all my friends at work decided would look great with a chocolate brown top. I think I’ll treat myself to a store shopping trip and find lots of chocolate brown tops but NO SLEEVES!

This might be a rant about how fashion is designed for the average pre-teen and forced on women of all ages but I’ll stop.

Okay, I have my grandmothers arms, the side effect of weight loss. They’re not pretty. However my overriding reason for sleeves is that they are required by my dress code at work. They don’t care about my flab, they just don’t want to see my armpits.

I would like a nice fitted top made of something stretchy but not slutty to go with my free skirt. I look and look and buy a nice pair of shoes (cringe, $95) that would go well with my free (starting to get expensive) skirt. I start to think that maybe sleeves are too expensive to find in ready-made. There’s these little sleeve wings and cute little sleeve caps that would suit my eight year old, but no real sleeves. I decide that manufacturers are intimidated by sleeves therefore they are avoiding them. I ask the salesclerk for sleeves. She says “lots of people are asking for sleeves but this is what they send us.”

I give up, I go home, stop by the fabric store, buy some lingerie lining and stretch lace and make one from my well used crossover top pattern. With sleeves. What would I do without sewing?


  1. Jeanette | | #1

    HI Neitzen

    I feel the same way as you do about the manufactures dictating what we wear and we all know that what is 'in' this season isn't going to suit everyone.  Here in Japan where I live hotpants are the in item for both winter and summer, luckily it is only the younger girls and women in theri 20's that are crazy enough to wear them.  I usually don't even other trying to find something I want in the shops as I know I won't find the colour or the style I have in mind.  I really wonder if the manufactures really listen to what consumers want as I went into a shoe shop wanting navy summer shoes and they said that lots of people want them but no one is manufacturing them.



    1. jatman | | #2

      Hi Jeanette!  I'm laughing about the hot pants.  I live in Sweden and I see them all over here, too.  The only difference is that I see people wearing calf length leggings underneath them.  Not really cute at any age!


  2. fabricholic | | #3

    Hello Netizen,You probably have a much nicer top than you would, if you had found one in RTW. I don't worry about this now, but do you remember when all you could find for a swim suit was little bikinis? I was never so disillusioned. If I wanted to go swimming, I would have to wear something I was embarrassed to be seen in, but that was years ago. You must take a picture of your outfit, so that we can see.Marcy

    1. netizen | | #4

      I remember that bikini era. It was only when the "tank" suit came back into fashion in the early 80's ? that midriffs could be covered again. I make my own swimsuits now, I can't imagine having to go out and buy one, even my old dependable Speedo has turned into a tiny shred of fabric and is $80! By the way, I did appreciate the sleeve draping article in the current issue because I have difficulties with the standard sleeve in patterns. My arms are wider through the bicep (flab) and the standard bicep width is not enough. I can see how it would be easier to leave off the sleeves, it gets rid of a huge fitting headache.

      1. SewFit | | #5

        I'm 60 and all in all my figure isn't too bad-12 petitie in RTW...but  I refuse to wear sleeveless or anything less than 3/4 sleeve so I find it very frustrating to find what I want in RTW- I stock up on T's and blouses in every color when I am blessed enough to find them and usually have to purchase those items in the fall when sleeves are "in."    

        Edited 5/20/2007 9:14 pm ET by SewFit

        1. Crazy K | | #6

          One more thing you and I have in common.........we're about the same size and I do not like sleeveless things either!  I have some sleeveless tanks that I wear gardening or just around home but I do not like to go out in public.   Too bad the industry doesn't see that all of us 'baby boomers' don't like all the styles.  We no longer have kids to clothe so can spend on ourselves.............if only we could find things that fit!!!!!

        2. LindaSewHappy | | #7

          I feel exactly the same way. Most tops in the stores now and in the past fall and winter seasons are sleeveless. I would prefer a sleeve, 3/4" preferably. Sleeveless tops always seem to be limited to one season, summer. I would prefer to get more use out of a blouse. Why cover it up with a sweater or jacket. I guess that should give me motivation to sew.

      2. Jeanette | | #19

        Glad to hear I am not the only one making swimsuits.  I hate being held to ransom by manufactures who don't make what I am looking for.  My husband doesn't like me wearing high leg swimsuits, not that I like them myself and  coming from New Zealand where  the ozone layer is depleted and you can get sunburnt so quickly, I prefer the long leg and arms down to almost the elbow type of swim suit.  When I see how much these cost over $100 New Zealand dollars I am thankful that I can make a swim suit for much less and feel comfortable in what I am wearing.

        1. JanF | | #20

          Jeanette - i must just but in here - where do u get swimsuits with sleeves and long legs?
          Being on the slightly older side of 50 I too have tops of arms and legs that don't look that brill any more - gosh perhaps the bit in the middle isnt all its cracked up to be either? -but there is no way I would comfortably wear something that "all enveloping" unless u r referring to a wetsuit type thing?
          I know "down under" u are very concerned with covering up in the sun - we've had stuff on our telly advocating ur slogans etc. - which seem a good idea to me - but if u know of something attractive as an alternative to our conventional suits etc. can u point me in the right direction?
          Might also help to alleviate my years of having to cover up the "hairy legs" syndrome?
          So what pattern do u use to make ur suit?
          And does it hold in what might unfortunately be my rather less than perfect ageing....f.t?
          JanJust thought - in case the f.t doesn't travel well with different terminology - euphemisms??
          I mean FAT!

          Edited 5/27/2007 1:22 pm ET by JanF

          1. Jeanette | | #21

            HI Jan

            The togs (swimsuit) pattern that I have is copied from a pair of togs that that I bought and when they were past their used by date I ripped them apart and copied the pattern.  The sleeves come 3/4 of the way down to the elbow and the  legs come about halfway down the thighs. I have never looked for a pattern so I don't know where to start looking, sorry. They don't really look like a wetsuit as the fabric is different but they are a similiar style .  When I look at photos of similiar togs they look quite sporty I think.  I sew into the lining some bra cups from an old bra and a bit of bra elastic to pull it in a bit.  I am only 37 so can't tell you if it would flatter a figure of your description but as an adult I have never felt comfortable wearing togs that rise up to your hip level like most of them do..

  3. From my Stash.... | | #8

    Count me in as one more person who has been looking for sleeves in tops and just gave up and make my own. Even an old favourite top with sleeves in a old trusty Vogue pattern can't be found any more so I have had to adapt a current pattern to add sleeves.

    Even though I work in an office and always wear a jacket, I don't really like wearing a sleeveless top under it.

  4. tmorris1 | | #9

    Designers have been omitting a lot of sleeves in the past couple of seasons, because the fashion trends are running more towards layering one piece on top of the other. Ie: top under a fashion jacket or sweater and the added sleeve bulk can be too hot or uncomfortable. Many of these tops that everyone is complaining about were never designed to be seen at the sleeve. Try putting a nice well fitting jacket (not coat) or a sweater on over top of one of these, and you will feel much better about it.T.

    1. Crazy K | | #10

      That sounds fine in theory but when the temp. hits 90+ and the dew points are in the 60's a sweater is the last thing I look for!!  My arms aren't my best feature but I can't stand the thought of a sweater in summer...........short sleeves on a blouse or t-shirt work much better.  I'm sure there are others out there ........ladies 'of a certain age' that share my sentiments!!  I do have shells that I wear with overblouses and that works if I can stay where its air conditioned.

      For those of you looking for plain t-shirts (more feminine style) try Target and the Cherokee brand.  They have jewel neck and v-neck in quite a few colors.  Granted, they're just plain cotton knit but great for everyday with shorts or jeans......and the price is great, too!


      1. tmorris1 | | #11

        Hey, I didn't make the fashions, I was simply explaining why the sleeves are gone.

        1. Crazy K | | #12

          Sorry.......I didn't mean to attact anyone......just frustration.  I was in our local JCPenney store recently and looking at the styles for summer the clothing manufacturers must think everyone that buys anything is under 25 yrs. old, tall and slender!!  I'm a 'young' 60 and short and a bit 'fluffy' so the hip styles don't work and there isn't much between that and 'old people clothes' which I don't like either.  Woe is me.

          1. tmorris1 | | #13

            So let me get this straight, you are on a sewing newsgroup, and are complaining about not being able to find RTW garments that are flattering and modest?? You are obviously talented, why are you not making yourself clothes with whatever type of sleeve that you want?? And just as a sidebar, I am 6 foot one (tall) mid 30's (youngish) and slender, and there is no way in creation that I can find anything off of a rack that fits well. Clothes are not made to fit and withstand wear anymore. There is no such thing as quality manufacturing anymore. If a manufacturer uses cheap fabric, cheap labor, and poor manufacturing techniques then you will keep buying clothes. If your clothing is well made, then it will last for decades. Don't worry about trend clothing so much, if you care about how you look, then you will look fabulous, and well made clothing in a classic cut will never go out of fashion. Be confident, and be fabulous.T.

          2. Crazy K | | #14

            Crazy, isn't it?  I do sew for myself but not as much as I would like...........time and talent are elusive!  Until recently we owned and operated three businesses in three different cities.  No sewing time then at all.  Now retired but still doing all sorts of volunteer things and I have trouble altering patterns so the fit is as I would like it.  My dress is mostly very casual....i.e. t-shirts & jeans.  I am working on getting a couple of basic patterns that fit so I can make myself a few pieces of well-fitting items for those rare times when I need something a bit more dressy. 

            I am one of these short, round, mature-figure gals with the large bust.........and very short-waisted.  I just mentioned to my dear hubby last evening that now that I'm older and have the funds to dress nicely in classy, feminine clothing.......and I'm FAT! 

            I am truly enjoying the forum.  It is giving me inspiration.  I do a fair amount of sewing but mostly for children.  Twenty-two grandkids keep me in practice.  I also sew the easy stuff..........pjs, etc. that really don't require fitting.  When I was younger and thinner ........many decades ago, I did sew more for myself out of necessity but it wasn't nearly as much fun then........due to the necessity part.



          3. Josefly | | #16

            I'm with you K, you're not crazy. I like to sew and am working on fitting myself better. But I'm still frustrated that rtw designers, manufacturers, and store buyers don't include sleeves in their blouses. There're lots of us arm-hiders out here.I guess tmorris is right - we can't count on manufacturers when they reap huge profits by lowering quality and simplifying design. We have to do it ourselves.

            Edited 5/26/2007 3:57 pm ET by Josefly

          4. Crazy K | | #17

            I knew there was someone else out there that shared my sentiments.........lots of us baby-boomers and I know lots that don't care to wear anything too low or sleeveless.  Necks and arms just don't age as gracefully as the rest of us! ha ha

            I do sew and I like to sew but it is also nice to stop by a clothing store to pick up an item or a whole outfit when the need arises.  I must agree, however, that to get fit and quality these days one must either be able to sew or spend tons of money on clothing at those exclusive shops...........and since I don't go there, I don't know if that stuff fits either!!


          5. Josefly | | #18

            Yeah, when I wander into the designer shops, their things are also way too form-fitting, too short, too low, and too bare-armed for me.

          6. netizen | | #15

            Well, if I didn't sew I don't know what I'd do about finding clothes. I was actually looking for a brown top and/or a brown top and jacket/sweater combo. Lots of sleeveless shells, no sign of any sweaters or decent jackets. I was craving the instant gratification of Wow! free skirt and buying a top and having an immediate outfit. I would have bought a layered jacket etc if there were any.I used to look at stores for inspiration for sewing, generally I'd copy what was current and make my own. I really got the impression that we're supposed to walk around half dressed now. I mostly sew my own, or more commonly, buy things at Value Village and remake them. I hadn't been in a "real store" in six months, and I was looking at places where basic shells were $40, not Wal-Mart where they're $5.97 and yeah, I did look at Wal-Mart because it can suprise you.

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