Whether you are petite, plus, or a standard missy size, you’ve surely encountered the challenges of sleeves that either tug too tightly under the arms or hang off the edge of your shoulders. Traditional set-in sleeves rely on that exact break point where the shoulder ends and the sleeve begins, making shoulder width critical to the fit of the garment. When it works, it looks great. But any woman who has shoulders a bit narrower or wider than an industry-standard measurement of “her size” can end up feeling either wrapped in a Band-Aid or like she’s toting around a set of football pads.
If you’re petite with wide shoulders, or tall with narrow shoulders, what’s a girl to do? We can’t all order custom clothing, and while tailoring is a great save for special pieces, it’s not always an option for every item in your wardrobe. But there are solutions. Finding tops with alternative shoulder and sleeve patterns minimizes the issue of exact shoulder width and opens up fit possibilities for shoulders of different widths, for women of many sizes.
Raglan and dolman sleeves are a fit-friendly way to address shoulder width concerns. Raglan sleeves use a different cut of sleeve, with a seam from the neckline under the arm instead of having a seam at the shoulder. This type of sleeve drapes well over the shoulder and down the arm in a continuous line. Our Soraya Pipe Blouse is just one example: follow the lines of the piping on the upper sleeve to see the difference in the cut. Whether a woman’s shoulders are narrower or wider, this type of sleeve can be a flattering look that fits well.
Another shoulder-friendly top solution that works nicely on many body types is the dolman sleeve. Once again eliminating the traditional set-in sleeve for a more continuous line from shoulder to arm, shoulder width becomes a flexible issue. Narrow shoulders aren’t overwhelmed and wider shoulders aren’t constricted. Our Bryony Button Blouse uses this technique, with the classic dolman shape of a wider sleeve opening closer to the body, tapering in width to skim but not restrict the elbow measurement.
Changing up the style of a sleeve is one of our favorite ways to make fit flexible. Our Siwa Shirt, Lini Pleat Tee, Nia Panel Blouse, and Pava Popover are more examples of ways to work with size and shape that create easy solutions in specialty items with designer touches.