I do not wear sleeveless tops and dresses anymore because I found that they were always orphaned in my closet. I am happy to bare my arms and love the look of sleeveless wardrobe items, so the reasons they were languishing in my closet had nothing to with coverage or aesthetics. I just run too cold to feel comfortable baring my arms in Seattle, where it doesn’t get all that hot. And purchasing sleeveless tops just to layer over them for insulation seems a shame when the items look best worn on their own. 

Even in the heat, there is a third important reason that I don’t often go sleeveless. I like to cover up my arms and neck in the sun to protect my skin and keep it cool. I find that wearing a thin and very roomy sleeved linen, cotton or silk shirt with a popped collar and scrunched sleeves is beautifully breezy, and keeps me covered in all the right places. Wearing lightweight natural fibres is essential for maximum breathability, as is a fluid or oversized fit. I find the combination cooler and better for my ultra-sensitive skin. 

I have spent most of my life in hot Asian and African climates, and I wore sleeveless tops and dresses indoors a lot more back then. Arctic air conditioning was less of an issue than it is today. But I also remember covering up for the heat and sun in the right breathable fabrics and baggy silhouettes because that’s what my late Mother used to do. And I copied her. 

It struck me how in the hottest countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, people wear covered clothing for sun and heat protection. It may sound counterintuitive, but it makes complete sense to me because I do that too. I wonder whether this resonates with you? Or do you feel coolest and most comfortable in sleeveless tops and dresses on a hot and sunny day?