Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Plus size solutions: adding sleeves

When we asked for your thoughts on plus size fashion in the UK last week, one thing that came up quite a lot was the fact items are often just scaled up from the smaller sizes, with no thought to how this will work on a fuller figure. Sleeveless dresses were a big concern. While some plus size women have the confidence to wear them and look amazing,  many more feel better with their arms covered, or need more coverage to hide their bra. It's much harder than it should be to find lovely dresses with sleeves, and given that it's currently freezing cold, it's completely impractical to prance about without some kind of arm coverage, no matter how gorgeous the dress is. Yes, even this one (£60 at Simply Be, up to size 32).


But let's face it, most plus size knitwear is not exactly stylish. The plethora of chunky boyfriend cardis and waterfall tunics just hide half your dress. So I have hunted down a few more creative solutions: add-on sleeves that will give you the warmth or coverage you crave without hiding you dress, something which is probably useful for more than just our plus size friends!


First up is Mary Portas and Charnos 'Armery' (from £7). Mary designed these tights for your arms as part of her 'mature woman' fashion collection for House of Fraser. They're basically a shrug made of tights, with the added bonus of shapewear-like sucking-in power, if you like that sort of thing. They only come in two sizes, but due to the stretchiness, should fit most body shapes.


Wingz take this concept one step further, coming down under your bra to ensure the sleeves don't fall down or move. They were designed with plus sizes in mind, with most styles going up to a size 28. There are Wingz for all occasions, from daywear to party, from about £15. If you don't like fitted sleeves, there are plenty of floaty kimono styles like the ones pictures, and they even make bridal Wingz!


M&S are the latest to get in on the act with their 'Flatter Me' (ugh) cupless armwear (£22.50) a similar concept to Wingz. It's been a big seller - they stock up to size 22 but the website is almost out - but there is also a bodysuit for a few quid more in the same style that's available in all sizes. I love a bodysuit under a dress anyway - it hides undies lines and gives a nice smooth finish.


Finally, for those who want even more coverage, or don't like the idea of a restrictive garment under their bra, there's always the good old shrug. Yours Clothing has a good cheap basic (£16) in loads of colours up to a size 32, and it isn't too frumpy or shapeless. My tip is to size up and fasten it with a vintage brooch to cleverly hide a neckline that reveals too much!

21 comments:

  1. Wow, this is a lifesaver of an article! I've got a yellow sleeveless dress to wear for a wedding, and desperately need some way of making it more flattering. The hunt for grey or navy lace sleeves begins...

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  2. Thank you! this is briliant. x

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  3. Thanks DS - you have done it again !! These are fabulous & I had no idea they were available.

    I especially love the Wingz & will def be investing in some.

    Thank you x

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  4. Glad you've all found it helpful. If there are any other things like this that you'd like me to cover just say the word.

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  5. I like them! Not all the time, but some dresses do a damn good job of being unflattering on the arm. And sometimes I need to stop wearing party dresses to the office - putting a cardi over the top doesn't hide that, but these might. (Wait, that's not really the point, is it?)

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  6. This is fantastically useful - thanks Gemma!

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  7. Oh, at last some sensible (what am I saying? This is the Sluts...) guides for more ample ladies such as myself - keep it up ladies... and more please..

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    1. Heeey, we can do sensible! (Erm... moving on.)

      Gemma's column will be every fortnight, come back, read, share, give us feedback so we know what we're getting right!

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  8. Thanks for this! I'm in such a rut of wearing cardigans over everything to hide my upper arms, so I may invest in one of these.

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  9. How have I never heard about these before?!

    Now I'm contemplating if the lace Wingz would go with my strapless wedding dress or if that would show too much Wingz...

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  10. I used to be self conscious of my upper arm so I got a huge tattoo all down it, slight extreme sleeve but I now show off my upper arms at all opportunities and hugely confident about them, definitely proved a great investment :)

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  11. Can recommend the Wingz. I bought a pair of the black chiffon sleeves as a couple of other dresses I bought recently were sleeveless (Lady V, subject of another post) and I'm really rather pleased. It's nice to not have to cover the dress up or have to wear a cardie when dancing might be in order.

    I'll probably invest in a white pair for the summer.

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  12. Never heard of Wingz before! Seems to have nicer fabric than the Portas ones. Thanks for the tip!

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  13. Just bought some on eBay, forgot to say. Cheap int'l shipping! Yay!

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  14. Love the lace sleeves and the bold colours of the Portas arm tights! They'll totally transform a couple of outfits that I thought were resigned to the cupboard 'til summer!

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  15. canopi.ie is an Irish company that also sell these arm tights for any Irish readers (or not!).

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  16. Wouldn't it just be A LOT easier, if companies made dresses with sleeves? Why don't they?

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  17. Great idea!

    What I can't stand are cap sleeves - not only do I find them restrictive and irritating in my armpit, but they make even slim arms look meaty. Perhaps now I can cut them all off and buy Wingz instead! LOL

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  18. Hi! I would just like to know if there is anything out there that can cover upper chest area? I have scars all over my chest that I'm really self-conscious about, which is upsetting because so many cute clothes tend to show the chest area.

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  19. I've got a few pairs of the Wingz and they are brilliant! I love them for summertime, I'm paranoid about getting burned shoulders but I hate wearing cardis and I have lots of pretty strappy tops, so I just wear the half sleeve wingz over the top and I don't get burned on that bit right at the back of my arm/shoulder that I can never bloody reach with Factor 25!

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