Gerri popped this one into the suggestion box:
I would love a post about why they don’t make dresses with sleeves anymore? Why can’t I find dresses with flattering sleeve lengths for summer (about midway to elbow)? I’m so tired of having to buy shrugs and jackets then coordinate them over all my dresses. I have a few dresses that fit great and are flattering but need different lengths/cuts/colors of shrugs and jackets. It’s discouraging. Do designers do this so we have to buy more clothes? We have hot humid summers so wearing my regular jackets doesn’t work. Any insights/advice about this would make me so happy!
And this is a phenomenon that we Minnesotans lament for the opposite reason: When it’s winter, the mere prospect of wearing sleeveless dresses makes us shiver. Even layered, they just aren’t as warm. Many of my readers and clients and friends are on a constant hunt for sleeved dress options, and retail buyers are hungry for them, too. But they are rare critters.
For years, I made my own assumptions about this bizarre trend: That the shift to shorter or no sleeves was related to our country’s obsession with youth, since sleeveless garments would appeal younger women who aren’t as self-conscious about their arms (supposedly). I also wondered about cost savings for the manufacturers, who could use less material overall and also design one basic dress shape for the entire year. Growing shopping and fashion markets in warm cities like Miami and Las Vegas struck me as another possible factor, as did the overall move toward “seasonless” dressing.
And if it weren’t for this WSJ article, I probably would have continued with my guesses. But here are the reasons, as outlined by designers including Nanette Lepore and Trina Turk:
- Sleeves are frumpy. (This is news to me.)
- It’s difficult to design a cute or flattering sleeve that also feels comfortable.
- Related: Sleeves can restrict range of motion, which causes more comfort issues. And in our comfort-centric climate, designers fear that buyers won’t tolerate restricted range.
- Design features that make sleeves more comfortable and less constricting – like gussets – are costly and seldom included.
- Sleeves can mess with the lines and overall tailored elegance of a dress.
So there you have it. Even though customers are clamoring for them, designers just don’t want to do sleeves. Mainly for aesthetic reasons. Annoying and frustrating.
Want to turn the tide? Continue to let your favorite designers and retailers know that you’d spend even more money with them if they offered dresses with sleeves. Although designers don’t love adding sleeves, it’s clear that some of them do it anyway because they know women really, truly want them. With constant reminders, perhaps they’ll shift from adding the occasional sleeved dress to a collection to adding the occasional sleeveless dress to a collection.
Images courtesy J.Crew
**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.