Spring has arrived, at least in California, where I live. And warm spring and summer days often mean wearing sleeveless tank tops. But as we mature, we don’t always feel comfortable baring our arms.
What’s a gal to do to stay cool and feel chic on those toasty days if we’d rather not sport a tank top?
If you prefer not bare your arms, and you want to keep cool, there are alternatives to sleeveless:
- Short sleeve t-shirts
- Elbow sleeve tops
- Rolled sleeves
- Classic white shirt/blouse
- Sheer or perforated fabrics
- Linen tops
- Cap sleeve tops
Check out these ideas for what to wear on warm days when you don’t want to go sleeveless.
Short Sleeves Tees & Tops
Short sleeve tops are a staple for most women in spring and summer and a great option when you prefer to keep your upper arms covered.
I prefer a t-shirt sleeve that has a bit of length these days and cleared my closet of my shorter sleeve t-shirts. I discovered this mid-length t-shirt sleeve at Gap (pictured below in navy). It covers just enough but still has the classic t-shirt look.
Elbow Sleeve Tops
An elbow sleeve tee features a sleeve length that hits just above the elbow. The trick for not falling into the trap of looking frumpy when wearing this style (heaven forbid!) is to make sure the sleeve fits close to the arm rather than being loose.
To contradict myself, the blue silk top pictured below does have a loose fitting sleeve, but the t-shirt offers other style attributes that give it a fresh look, like a boxy silhouette, dropped shoulder seam, and layered hem.
Rolled or Cuffed Sleeve
Rolling the sleeves up gives a long-sleeved blouse another style option as well as giving your skin some breathing room. Some shirt styles come with a button tab to hold up the sleeve when rolled.
Classic White Blouse
The classic white shirt or blouse is a go-to for looking and feeling cool while keeping arms covered. The white color doesn’t absorb heat the way darker colors do, and you always have the option of rolling the sleeves up to give arms a bit of air. It’s also fun to layer a lightweight, contrast color camisole underneath for a little surprise accent.
Sheer or Perforated Fabrics
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. If the sheerness seems a little too transparent, you can always wear a camisole in a neutral or contrasting color. A cami in a contrasting color adds a little surprise feature as it will be visible under your shirt.
Another option is to wear a tank top under a sheer or perforated cardigan. This allow air flow to help stay cool but camouflages the areas of the arm that you prefer to keep a little covered. By pairing a sheer or perforated fabric cardigan with a contrast color tank, you also create an outfit with some eye catching interest!
The classic summer look of linen is a great, keep-cool option. There are a lot of style options in loose fitting linen tops that can keep at least the top part of your arms covered. You have to accept that it’s going to be wrinkled, because that’s just linen. And there’s something classy about the rumpled appearance of linen.
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. I don’t have a photo of me wearing a cap sleeve top to share because, to be honest, I don’t love where the edge of the cap sleeve ends on my arm. It draws attention exactly to the area where the skin is less than firm. To me, even a tank top is more flattering than a cap sleeve. But it might be the perfect solution for you!
When Sleeveless Is Simply a Yes!
There are going to be times when the right thing is to go sleeveless. Tropical vacations fall into that category, for example. Layering a cardigan or lightweight jacket over a tank or other type of sleeveless top is a way you can start the day or evening. If it gets too warm for the cardigan, you’ll end up being sleeveless although you may not exactly planned it that way. Here are a few tips to shed the best light on your sleeveless look:
- Accessorize – Accessories, like a hat, statement earrings, even a lightweight scarf casually draped, draw the eye so the focus isn’t on the bare arms. Accessories give the eye a place to rest and make their own bold statements.
- Pattern and texture – Wearing a sleeveless top or dress with a print, some kind of embellishment, or textured fabric is another way to draw the eye to someplace other than your bare arms.
In the End: Wear What You Like!
Sometimes we might just say: Who cares? I’m going to wear what I like.
When you do go sleeveless, make sure you wear the right bra to keep straps out of view – it might be that a racerback or a strapless is the best solution.
And when we choose the sleeveless option, let’s wear it proud! At least 80% of looking great is feeling amazing and projecting it. So go all in!
Fun Spring Tops from Amazon
(That Won’t Break the Bank)
There are a variety of sleeve styles that look stylish and modern for spring and summer. I’ve curated some styles from Amazon that are budget friendly and have positive reviews. Included are a few sleeveless tops that incorporate a pattern, texture, or embellishment.
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