What to Wear When You Don’t Want to Go Sleeveless

What to wear if you don't want to go sleeveless

It appears that the warm weather is here, and probably here to stay, although the SF Bay Area may still have a lingering shower here and there. I’m already seeing a lot of warm weather clothes on the street. This typically means we see more bare skin. For tops, that means sleeveless. But not all of us want to go sleeveless, and we need other options for keeping cool and looking season appropriate.

I admire women who are comfortable in their own skin and feel great wearing styles that bare their arms and legs. But there are more than a few of us who prefer to be a bit more covered.

I’ve always had long, slender arms – I called them Olive Oyl arms – and was happy to wear sleeveless tops for years. However, age has affected my arms in a way that doesn’t thrill me – loose skin. I really don’t want to go sleeveless right now. This spring I’m attracted to tops that will give me a bit of cover where I want it and still keep me cool.

So what if you don’t want to go sleeveless? What options are there for dressing appropriately for the warm spring and summer days that don’t include tank tops? The answer: There are A LOT of styles that look chic and keep you covered up but cool. Here are a few non-tank top styles that you can integrate into your warm weather wardrobe.

Cold Shoulder

The cold-shoulder style is a spring trend. It’s a fresh look and one that should work well for almost everyone – everyone’s shoulders look good regardless of age and weight. I’ve been on the lookout for a cold-shoulder top I love. My Stitch Fix stylist found an almost cold-shoulder top for me. But I’m still looking for one that lets the shoulder peek out. (Check out my Stitch Fix post to see the black slit-sleeve top: Stitch Fix – My First Fix!)

INC Cold Shoulder Top
INC Cold Shoulder Top
Halogen Cold Shoulder Top
Halogen Cold Shoulder Top
Bobeau Cold Shoulder Flutter Sleeve Top
Bobeau Cold Shoulder Flutter Sleeve Top

Flutter Sleeve

The flutter sleeve style is also in this spring. It can be a feminine and romantic look, especially in a floral print. I’d be drawn to a clean and simple silhouette rather than the more romantic version. It’s a very pretty look and would keep you just as cool as a tank top – and with a bit more style.

Wayf Brody Bow Tie Blouse
Wayf Brody Bow Tie Blouse
Lucky Brand V-Neck Tee
Lucky Brand V-Neck Tee
1.State Flutter Sleeve Blouse
1.State Flutter Sleeve Blouse

Sheer

I love the look of a sheer, long-sleeved blouse or shirt. I have several and wear them in both cool and warm weather. This style will keep your arms covered while helping you stay cool. The long-sleeved version is sexy with the slightly see-through fabric. If it seems a little too transparent, you can always wear a cami in a neutral or contrasting color.

Black House White Market Floral Blouse
Black House White Market Floral Blouse
Kut from the Kloth Floral Print Blouse
Kut from the Kloth Floral Print Blouse
Sanctuary City Mix Layered Look Tee
Sanctuary City Mix Layered Look Tee

Cap or Cuffed Sleeve

For some reason these cuffed sleeve tops remind me of the 80’s – maybe it’s the oversized style. It’s always good to balance a very loose or oversized top with a slimmer silhouette on the bottom, like skinny jeans. If you don’t want to go sleeveless but still like a bare arm, the cap sleeve style gives just a tad more coverage than a tank top.

Madewell Central Shirt
Madewell Central Shirt
Two by Vince Camuto Plaid Gauze Split Neck Blouse
Two by Vince Camuto Plaid Gauze Split Neck Blouse
Rails Whitney Print Shirt
Rails Whitney Print Shirt

Linen

Linen is a classic in spring and summer. It’s a natural fabric that breathes. Linen wrinkles pretty quickly when you wear it, but it’s part of the charm and personality of linen and also communicates “I’m linen” simply by it’s natural wrinkles. Check out Stitch Fix’s Guide to Breathable Summer Fabrics (including linen).

Gap Linen Oversize Boyfriend Shirt
Gap Linen Oversize Boyfriend Shirt
J. Crew Linen Tee
J. Crew Linen Tee
Two by Vince Camuto Collarless Linen Shirt
Two by Vince Camuto Collarless Linen Shirt

T-Shirt

I guess it’s a no-brainer that a t-shirt is a good substitute for a sleeveless top. T-shirts come in a variety of looks, styles, fabrics, and prints, so don’t assume it’s a boring choice. I always have an assortment of t-shirts in my wardrobe because they fill so many needs: they are great for layering, they can be casual or dressy, they can be thrown on in a pinch without a lot of planning, and they can play the role of grounding an outfit, to name a few.

Banana Republic Short-Sleeve Stripe Modal Scoop Tee
Banana Republic Short-Sleeve Stripe Modal Scoop Tee
Lucky Brand Border Print Top
Lucky Brand Border Print Top
Banana Republic Sheer Sleeve Overlay Top
Banana Republic Sheer Sleeve Overlay Top

Wrapping Up

Whatever style works best for you, be sure you have some options waiting in your closet before the hot weather settles in. Be comfortable, both physically and mentally, and feel great when you step out your door!

Next week: What to wear when you don’t want to wear shorts

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2 Comments

  1. Julie
    May 5, 2017 / 7:44 am

    Timely post and cute tops! Didn’t you have one about legs, too? I’m feeling the need for some capris!

    • May 13, 2017 / 7:22 am

      Hi Julie, Thanks for your comments. Yes! The legs are covered (pun intended!) this week!

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