I’m getting more and more frustrated with sleeve lengths in stores. Many of them just aren’t flattering. At one point, I thought I was being overly critical, but when Kendall Farr confirmed my suspicions in her latest book, Style Evolution, I felt that my frustrations were justified. Kendal says:

“Most manufacturers really don’t understand the flattering sleeve issue. Unless an arm is slim and toned, caps or lengths that draw a line across the bicep are fattening. I buy my favorite T-shirts in long sleeves and take them to my drycleaner to shorten to anywhere from just above to just below the elbow. Plays up a slim forearm; disguises the rest”

A sleek sleeve that ends around the elbow, as Kendal describes, is in my opinion the most flattering length of sleeve on any arm. It’s where the hem of the sleeve cuts the arm in half, or thereabouts, that makes visual sense. Long sleeves and sleeveless garments are flattering too. The former covers the arm completely, while the latter bares all, thereby creating equally long, lean lines.

And then there’s the rest. Sleeves that end at unflattering lengths somewhere between sleeveless and short sleeves are in abundance. And they are the most difficult sleeve lengths to wear! As much as I love to wear sleeveless garments and encourage others of all ages and sizes to do so as well, I realize that many women prefer to wear sleeves. And because retail is cap-sleeve-obsessed, this is what most women end up wearing, especially if a top fits well in every other respect. Not so fab.

Help us out retailers. Getting this right should be easy. You don’t need to stop producing cap sleeves – there are women who sport them beautifully. But variety is the spice of life, so offer a deeper assortment of flattering sleeve lengths and you’ll probably sell more items. I’m putting in a special request for elbow-length sleeves because they’re flop proof.

Hope our retailers are listening.