The Need for Sleeves

The Need for Sleeves

I read on Already Pretty that sleeveless dresses became the norm a few years ago in part because designers find them easier to design. (Apparently, designers think it’s hard to design an attractive sleeve that is not overly constricting.) Be that as it may, working women need at least a few dresses with sleeves, so I am always on the lookout for short-sleeved and long-sleeved dresses.

Behold my ultra modest and tres femme Orla Kiely dress from A/W 2014.
Is this not a very feminine dress?
Is this not a very feminine dress?

The only caption I could think of was "Side view" -- AS IF you can't see that it's a side view for yourself?
The only caption I could think of was “Side view” — as if you can’t see that it’s a side view for yourself?
This dress is made of a stiff jacquard fabric with a lot of structure; it’s half wool, half polyester. Normally, I avoid stiff fabrics because they tend to overwhelm the frame of a small person, but this one really showcases the cut of the dress.

Deep split neckline, as if you can't see that for yourself
Deep split neckline, as if you can’t see that for yourself
For instance, the split neckline is quite deep. With a floppy, soggy fabric — (ahem) a fluid fabric — the neckline would be drooping and showing my bra, but this stiff fabric stays in place. No exposure! This is one of my top goals in the workplace.

Another thing that I love about this dress is that the kick pleats in the back are not slit — they really are pleats. So there is a lot of freedom in the skirt of this dress, but again, no exposure.
Check out my low heels
Check out my low heels
Do you see what I mean?
Do you see what I mean?

If you look closely, this dress is not black. It’s charcoal grey. The grosgrain belt is black. The modest contrast — texture and color — add a little interest.
Click on this picture to see the jacquard pattern.
You can also see the jacquard pattern and a little cat hair in this picture; I did use a lint-roller
Jacquard pattern plus a little cat hair are visible in this picture; I did use a lint-roller

Why is there cat hair on my dress? Two reasons: first, there is cat hair on everything I own; second, Harper came into my orbit.
We had a quick mind meld
We had a quick mind meld
And then Harper signaled she was done
and then Harper signaled she was done

I went looking for some long-sleeved dresses for you on YOOX. Here’s what I found.
BGN (this is a jersey/knit)
From BGN
BGN in brick red
BGN in brick red
Slightly boho wool knit from Hache
Slightly boho wool knit from Hache

From Jil Sander, a wool silk blend
From Jil Sander, a wool flannel (also comes in black)
Also from Jil Sander, but this one's a ponte knit
Also from Jil Sander, but this one’s a ponte knit with some interesting draping at the waist
Maison Margiela 4
Maison Margiela 4, a pinstriped cotton-wool-silk blend

I am including this last picture because . . . I look like such a boss. Don’t I? Wouldn’t you totally accept direction from this person?
I need you to give me 110%

Have a fantastic weekend!
Dress: Orla Kiely; Shoes: Tory Burch; Bag: Coach Borough bag; Watch: Michele CSX

13 thoughts on “The Need for Sleeves”

    • Perhaps I could make a niche for myself in the world of style blogs by holding a cat, instead of a handbag, in every picture?

  1. This dress is a dream come true – and I am not being facetious here. I don’t wear sleeveless for personal reasons – even cap sleeves don’t feel quite right to me, so finding professional dresses with sleeves are of paramount importance to me.
    You hit the nail on the head with this one – this is the holy grail. Fitted, but not overly so, flattering for most figures with that lovely seaming, below the knee but not mumsy in the least, feminine but not too girly – this is a woman’s dress!

    • I thought the heels might gratify you! They are comically low, but even that little bit of height does create a lengthening effect and add polish.

  2. I agree about sleeves. It is impossible to find a good dress with sleeves that still allows normal arm movement. Don’t get me started on cap sleeves, which flatter no one, except those with twig arms (though I sadly own dresses with this dreaded so-called sleeve, because it is the only option. They remind me I need to do more push-ups). I just had a J.Crew, cobalt blue dress with 3/4 sleeves delivered…hopefully it fits and works! Most of my winter dresses, even those in heavy fabrics, have either tiny sleeves or no sleeves, which made no sense to me until reading this post. Come on designers, step it up and design decent dresses with sleeves!

    • It is particularly vexing to consider when stretch fabrics make the fit/movement issue easier. What could be easier than putting sleeves on a jersey dress? But even wool and silk frequently have stretch fibers added to them now. I hope you find success with your JCrew dress — if it works, perhaps you could add the name/style to this thread? Thanks, Elena!

  3. A woman’s dress! Love every bit of this. But tell me: Did it fit so well right off the rack? I like sleeveless dresses because then there are no sleeves to hit my arms at all the awkward places. Yours, however, look perfect.

    • I initially thought the sleeves were too wide, but upon further reflection, I have decided that they are fine. (There is something to the designers’ lament that it is hard to design a sleeve that is both sleek and comfortable.) The sleeves were a little too long but because I wanted to wear this dress without delay when it was new, I just turned the sleeves under by two inches; the fabric is so stiff, that I was able to do that.

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