How to cover your upper arms while staying stylish and cool!

by Tangobabe

How to cover your upper arms

Readers of this blog already know my friend Anja, who is frequently featured at the site and an active participant in the style forum. She recently told me that I should write an article about covering your upper arms, since many women over 40 don’t want to show these anymore. Since I don’t have that issue yet, I thought it would be a better idea that she write the article instead. She agreed and here are some of her tips. Enjoy!

As I age, I find myself wanting to cover up more and more parts of my body. I prefer presenting myself in the most flattering way possible and that implies covering up ‘ugly’ parts, hiding loose skin, wrinkly parts, fat and so on. Some months ago I came to the conclusion that my inner upper arms are not appealing any more. Hence no more naked arms. Does that mean that from then on I am only wearing full length sleeves? No, not at all.That would be very limiting in my choices in shopping and choosing from my own wardrobe. Besides that, it would be very hot in summer or in a climate such as we have here in Singapore. And finally, sometimes I just don’t care, and I happily do wear sleeveless on a day like that ;-).

Having said that, you may recognise where I am coming from and therefore, I would like to share my ideas with you.

garments with sleeves

Tips and inspiration for wearing sleeves when it is warm

To cover up your arms you can:

1. Wear something with sleeves, a no brainer.

There is a lot of variation in sleeves though. In the length, the shape and the material.

If I go for full length sleeves I try to look for certain fabrics like light material, (semi-)transparent and lace. All of these are relatively cool and airy. You hardly feel transparent material on your ams and it is often good enough to mislead the eye of people.

Next to that I look for shapes that are loose, like:

  • the batwing sleeve, a long sleeve with a deep armhole, tapering towards the wrist
  • the bell sleeve, a long sleeve that is fitted from shoulder to elbow and flared from elbow onwards
  • the bishop sleeve, fuller at the bottom than the top and gathered at the wrist in a cuff
  • the butterfly sleeve, a short sleeve that gets a lot wider from the shoulder onwards
  • the hanging sleeve, a sleeve that opens down the side or front to allow the arm to pass through

Anyway, no need to sum up ALL types of sleeves, but I guess this gives an idea of the possibilities.

At this point I mainly need to cover up my inner upper arms. The rest I find still showable. Therefore, and for coolness, sleeves with cut-out shoulders and cut-open sleeves would be great for me too. Unfortunately those two types are not that easy to find. Great for DIY, I think, but personally I am no good with needle and thread.

cut out sleeves

1. Allen Schwarz 2. Fifteen twenty 3. Forever 21 4. Macys

2. wear sleeveless, and wear something with sleeves over that

The obvious solutions are cardigans, vests and boleros. They too come with the sleeve types mentioned above and in the materials mentioned. Some people may choose a shawl or pashmina, but as a cover up they don’t work for me. Too much hassle to keep them in place.

Another idea is to wear a sleeved top, tunic or dress, preferably in a sheer material over the sleeveless item.

covering your arms

3. wear sleeveless and wear something with sleeves under that

How to cover up armsThis solution is the hardest, in my opinion. But it CAN be done. The main risks are that the look can become or schooluniform-ish or a bit old lady-like.

Well, I have nothing more up my sleeve now, hahaha. I hope you found this an inspiring and usefull read and I want to thank Sylvia for letting me share this with you all.

About the author

Anja (aka tangobabe) is a 50+er who mostly shares her time between The Netherlands and Singapore. She is currently in India and blogs about her experiences at Double Dutch in Singapore. Sh also has another blog about everything that wowes her.

Do you want to cover up your upper arms in Summer? If yes, how do you do it?

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }


Anja, you look lovely in all your choices. I too like to cover my arms. I am over 60 now and find my arms are not so lovely and need to find stylish clothing that helps me disquise this. Thanks for you post.



Thank you, Sally, and good luck with your search for stylish cover ups!


Sandra Walsh

Hi gorgeous ladies
I would love you to see this fantastic Arm Cover solution that I invented called Canopi .
It is simple ,beautiful , easy to wear and will Arm you with Confidence .
Please be one of the Million Ladies to wear Canopi

Thank you



Do you have a website for these sleeves?


Heather Fonseca

I do prefer to cover my arms as well. Though I like to show them sometimes too! My favorite is a simple cap sleeve but I also like 3/4 length sleeves of all kinds.



On the pics on your blog your arms look gorgeous;-)



It is all about the genes. Some women get wrinkled arms quite young and others hardly ever. I am one of the unfortunate ones. Never mind I have other good things and I focus one those.
So yes I cover up my arms as well. Preferably up to and including my elbows, which are ugly as well. I also have to cover the part above and in between my breasts, as that part is totally wrinkled. (Sigh.)
I see a whole lot of new clothes Anja. Been shopping? They look terrific on you.



Well noticed, Greetje! Yes, I am a shopaholic too, remember;-). And loosing 11 kg gives me a good excuse with all those pants and skirts just falling of my body… Finding 4 tuniques/dresses in street stalls in India for 3 euro each was very helpful too.



You found 4 great tops online, Sylvia, to match my article. Number 1 is probably too tricky for my arms, but I would love to have 2., 3. and 4.!



Thanks for the great article Anja. Glad you like my little add on!



I absolutely love that light colored print dress over the green dress. Very fab.

Your sleeved outfits look very appealing to me, because I have always been a coverer-upper, both because I grew up in Wisconsin (very cold, with very reticent/modest German Lutheran population) and because I was made self-conscious about my body at a young age. Now I live in a hot climate and it would be nice to go sleeveless. I’ve always been an aerobic exerciser but never did much about strength training. Lately I’ve been training up gradually to do push ups and pull ups. I’m hoping it will give me arms like Helen Mirren!



Great post, although I don’t have a problem showing my upper arms. I guess they could be a bit more toned, but other than that, I’m fine! I think perhaps Scandinavian women tend to have a more relaxed attitude towards their bodies and how they dress, in the summer you can see women of every age and size sporting their upper arms in the summer:)



Very good, such a relaxed attitude. I envy Scandinavian women.


Anja van der Vorst

I agree with Greetje: very relaxed and confident attitude!


Jean at Dross into Gold

At 59, I’ve found that I’m more unselfconscious if my arms are covered, so it’s liberating to do so. These are great stylish suggestions without looking too conservative. I live in a region that stays hot for a good portion of the year so this is a great post for me. As a DIYer, I’m looking forward to figuring out the perfect slashed-sleeve technique.

Thanks for the great pictures.

Love, Jean



I hope you will show the results in the forum, if you DIY some sleeves;-)!



Thank you Anja (and Sylvia); I was going to write and ask about this “problem”. Anja, great info about giving names to these sleeve “styles” – I am going to get some tunic tops made with a couple of these styles, so thank you very much for that. Thank goodness with fashion nowadays, anything goes! You can dress for yourself, and I am looking forward to reading Sylvia’s article about personality dressing.



One day I was wearing a new black T shirt, a crew neck with cap sleeves. I asked my boyfriend if it made my arms look fat like I knew it did. He told me that I looked sexy and he liked it. I wanted to take it off, but he insisted that I wear it. We are about the same size, so I told him that if you like it so much, why don`t you wear it. Bad mistake! It looked absolutely perfect on him. I was livid. Now, whenever he comes over, I make him wear it. He`s not a transvestite or crossdresser, but he loves it!


Terry Murphy

I am sixty years old. I am also a year behind on this trail, but I just wanted to comment on how easy it is to tighten up the area beneath the upper arm. Wall push-ups, which can be performed in business dress in just a few minutes each day. Each time I go into the ladies room during office hours, I find an empty wall and do about 35 wall push-ups. No more under-arm flab.



That is great feedback Terry. Such a great tip. I will start today!



You Look Lovely In All Outfits. Like You I Also Like To Cover My Arms. Going To Give Those Pushups A Tty.



I am sixty as well and have added chair push-ups to my exercise routine which strengthens my triceps. In a straight back chair, place your hands on the sides of the seat then lower yourself so your tush is below the seat and then push back up. It’s easy.


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