Three-quarter sleeves stop roughly midway between the elbow and wrist. They are longer than elbow sleeves, but not quite full-length. I tend to lump bracelet-length sleeves into the three-quarter sleeve category, but they are typically a little longer. You’ll find three-quarter sleeves on all sorts of tops, toppers, knitwear and dresses and across countless silhouettes, patterns and fabrics. Here are some examples.

H&M
Crêped Shirt
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4
Talbots
Poplin Shirtdress
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6
Shopbop
SIKA Shirt Dress
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6
Boden
Rosie Jersey Top
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5
COS
Striped Shirt
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1
COS
Funnel Neck Top
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2
COS
Seersucker Shirt
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1

You can create the length of a three-quarter sleeve by scrunching long sleeves, rolling them up, or hitching them up with a tab and button feature. Here are some examples of that.

Boden
Linen Shirt
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4
H&M
Hemd van popelinekatoen
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3
COS
Striped V-neck Vest
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2
COS
Ribbed Cardigan
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8
COS
Wrap Shirt Dress
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5
COS
Oversized Shirt Dress
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6

When I entered the rag trade twenty-nine years ago, I thought that everyone liked a pretty three-quarter sleeve because I enjoy them so much. But plenty of people didn’t like them, and some of my clientele are against them too. Some refer to them as cropped sleeves, which makes me laugh. Over the years, I’ve learned why three-quarter sleeves can be popular and unpopular. Feel free to add to my lists of pros and cons.

Pros

  • Breezy but covered in warm and hot weather
  • Elegantly Modern Retro
  • Visually flattering
  • Showcases alluring forearm and wrist skin
  • Showcases arm candy
  • Adds structure to an outfit
  • Practical length for doing things like cooking, cleaning, and other tasks

Cons

  • Bad associations for those with long arms who were forced to wear long sleeves too short
  • Looks like the retailer ran out of fabric
  • Unflattering because it shortens the arm visually
  • Looks conservative
  • Draws attention to forearms and wrists
  • Lacks Winter insulation
  • Annoying under long-sleeved toppers because of bunching
  • Too hot to wear in hot weather

I LOVE three-quarter sleeves. I’m an avid sleeve scruncher, and wear them very frequently. I’m constantly pushing up long-sleeved tops to a three-quarter length. I love the elegant coverage, yet I’m big into showcasing forearm skin, so for me the length is quite perfect. I have long arms, and will correct the length of a top with too short long sleeves by scrunching them to a three-quarter length.

That said, I generally find three-quarter sleeves too breezy to wear in Autumn and Winter, but have some exceptions that work well. They can be annoying to layer under long-sleeve toppers, but with a bit of patience, the right hand grasp of the sleeve before you pull on the topper, and fluid fit topper sleeves — I’ve found it’s manageable. On the whole though, it’s better to wear scrunched long sleeves that I can pull down when I add a jacket, and scrunch back up again when I’m layered. I don’t wear three-quarter sleeve cold-weather coats and jackets because I want the coverage of a long sleeve. But late Spring and Summer toppers with three-quarter sleeves are fine.

Over to you. Do you like to wear three-quarter sleeves? Remember that scrunching long sleeves to a three-quarter length counts as wearing three-quarter sleeves.