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

by Sylvia

How to cover your upper arms | 40plusstyle.com

Summer is here which means fewer and breezier clothes! Even though the warm weather asks for sleeveless tops and dresses, many women still like to cover up their upper arms. 

Please note that covering upper arms is a personal preference for many 40+ women. I don’t feel it’s necessary to cover your arms, no matter how they look, but if you feel more fabulous while doing so, there is nothing wrong with that either.

Therefore today I will offer you some tips and tricks on how to cover your upper arms while still staying cool!

Ways of 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.

Opt for light or sheer fabrics

Chiffon Sleeve Blouse

If you go for full length sleeves 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.


Look for ‘airy’ kind of sleeves

Then look for shapes that are loose, like:


Bell sleeve top

Black butterfly sleeve top

The batwing sleeve, a long sleeve with a deep armhole, tapering towards the wrist.

Bold striped blouse

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.

Bishop sleeve top

The butterfly sleeve, a short sleeve that gets a lot wider from the shoulder onwards.

Chiffon butterfly sleeve top

The hanging sleeve, a sleeve that opens down the side or front to allow the arm to pass through.

Stark white split sleeve blouse

Opt for for cut-open sleeves and cold should tops

Halogen cold shoulder tunic top

These tops are absolutely perfect for women who prefer to cover (part of their) upper arms yet still want to feel cool and sexy. Right now this is a HUGE trend so this is the time to stock up on these kind of tops as they can sometimes be hard to find.

 Pinstriped top

Cold shoulder and cutout tops are a huge trend right now and perfect for covering those parts you don’t like but showing those parts you do.

Strapless tops with sleeves are great for hot summer days and super sexy.

Floral cold shoulder top

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

You can also start building your outfit with a sleeveless top like a short or long camisole.

Then you can add many kinds of toppers like cardigans, vests and boleros, but also the sheer blouses we mentioned above.

Her is an example of how I wore my sheer top over a long camisole.

How to cover your upper arms - with a sheer top | 40plusstyle.com

Another option is a shawl or pashmina, but they take a bit more effort to keep them in place

3. wear sleeveless and wear something with sleeves under that

You can also take your sheer blouses or other tops with cool sleeves and wear something on top of that. The easiest way to do that is with a vest like this one from Covered Perfectly. (you can see how I wore this vest many different ways in this article).

Different ways to cover your arms in summer | 40plusstyle.com

For many more ideas, check out this article on how to wear a long vest.

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

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Greetje

I think I am already a pro at this haha. As you saw with my bluw white yellow shirt.

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2 Sylvia

You are! Next time I should just use your images to illustrate the article 🙂

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3 Catherine

I’m not one to cover up my arms. Even though they may be a bit on the thick side, there is just more of my arms to admire!

That being said, when I do want a bit of coverage, I’ll just wear short sleeves. Not a cap sleeve but a true-to-live short sleeved T–shirt. I’ll also throw a lightweight cardigan over a sleeveless t or shirt.

I’m sort of considering adding one of those off-the-shoulder shirts because I like the vibe but I’m not sure yet………………..

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4 Susan Davis

Thank you for the great suggestions, but do you have some ways to fashionably cover the lower arms, too? I’ve thought of wearing a long sleeve shirt under a short or elbow-length sleeved blouse or jacket, but it seems to shout “old person”. Do you have some ideas that would work? This is the first time I’ve commented, but I love reading your blog. I hope to get your e-book soon!

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5 Catherine

I always wear a long sleeved shirt but roll the arms to just inbetween the elbows and the wrists–this give the look a younger vibe.

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6 Linda

Unfortunately, I don’t look good in the peasant style blouse which I love so much!

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7 Melisa

I’ve never liked to wear sleeveless because I have very narrow sloping shoulder and look very frumpy in sleeveless. It’s so hard to find short sleeves, except for T-shirts, which is one reason I mostly wear fitted Tees. Too hot already for layers except maybe the sheer layer. But what do you do about bra straps with camisoles? At my age, I need a real bra (thank you so much, Gravity) and the straps are always wider than a camisole. Camis are so much cuter than tanks. BTW, you look awesome in the fedora and long vest!

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8 Melanie

I like to look in the beach cover up section for great airy layering pieces! Also chiffon kimonos are great for covering up but not too much.

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9 Mother & Daughter

I have more cardie’s than I can count. lol I love your ideas, I get so tired of my sweaters. I really do like the cold shoulder look.

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10 Pam

Some great ideas, a few I had not heard of. Much needed information. Sharing!!!

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11 nancy

Great tips. I sometimes forget , in a store, not to buy sleeveless. And then I get Home and think:oh Yeah, I should t wear that anymore!

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12 Joan B

Many thanks Sylvia for this article; I really feel that now I do not want to expose my arms and so getting tips on how to cover them in summer is really useful. Some lovely ideas to look out for in the shops.

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13 Sherry Edwards

I haven’t really given this much thought. I guess it’s something I need to think about. Usually I prefer to wear sleeveless tops in the summer. It feels soooo summery. However, indoors it’s always freezing, so I need a sweater, jacket or shawl. Outdoors I prefer just a top. I do have a lot of nice, flowy tops with sleeves which I like but these ones cannot be worn with a sweater or jacket, only a shawl.

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14 marilyn

Hi, I am a 61 year old female who mostly wears jeans and t shirts. i have a heck of a time finding t shirts that cover the upper flabby batwing on my arms. not 3 quarter length as that is too hot in the summer, just a true halfway between the elbow and shoulder. I resort to buying mens t shirts to get this length bur sacrifice a cute t shirt. I do believe there is a market for this. I have asked many a sales person why they do not carry t shirts for women older or not who want to cover their upper arms. They all say write the manufacture because we want them too and so do most older or overweight women!

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15 gina

The only place that I have found t-shirts that are a sturdier cotton that doesn’t cling to all my lumps and bumps and have longer sleeves is Lands End. I live in those during the summer because the days of going sleeveless are in the past.

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16 Margo

Appropriately named, “My New Arms®” gives women the confidence to wear sleeveless garments once again. Sheer sleeves are attached to a stretch bra extending gracefully from the shoulder down to the wrist with an elastic finish to hold in place giving the illusion of natural arms. It’s highly versatile and it can be worn over a favorite bra, or under almost any garment. The jiggle is gone and the crepey-ness no longer visible.

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17 Margo

My New Arms is the real solution!
This is an ingenious arm enhancement solution for women constantly in search of ways to conceal, or disguise un-toned arms without anyone realizing it!
Appropriately named, “My New Arms®” gives women the confidence to wear sleeveless garments once again. Sheer sleeves are attached to a stretch bra extending gracefully from the shoulder down to the wrist with an elastic finish to hold in place giving the illusion of natural arms. It’s highly versatile and it can be worn over a favorite bra, or under almost any garment. The jiggle is gone and the crepey-ness no longer visible.

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18 Susan

These are some great suggestions. I’m going to be 41 this year and can still get away with wearing tanktops and going sleeveless, but I do like mixing things up a little bit.

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19 Judie

I want to buy a cotton dress, Midi, but it has cap sleeves, Could I take the sleeves off and wear another sleeve, perhaps edging it with fab. from the cap sleeves? I’m only interested in covering the top part of the arm.

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