Home Feature She always has a trick up her sleeve

She always has a trick up her sleeve

Sleeves are the thing this season and they can hide your arms in oh-so-many ways. Model Julie Delisle shows off a trio of stylish sleeves for this week’s photoshoot. (Photos by Daniel J. Rowe, The Eastern Door)


Quite literally. Who needs a hat? The way the sleeve is having a moment this year, you could pull a rabbit out of your armholes and no one would see it coming.

From balloons to poet sleeves to shoulder puffs to blouses tied at the wrist, you can take your pick of daring and voluminous arm… candy? Dare I say?

I’m not mad, either. Fashion has flirted with the 70s and 80s on and off for years and while we’ve watched waistlines go up and down and pant-legs taper and flare, clutching and releasing our ankles in a rhythm with the seasons, all this time the sleeve has been held at, well, arm’s length, as the saying goes.

I wonder if it’s because everyone misses Michelle Obama and those famous toned shoulders that designers have gotten fixated on, these oft-overlooked appendages.

Or maybe we just had to work our way up from the toes, starting with the Sex and the City-induced shoe neuroses of the early aughts, then the booty popping over-embellished jeans of the next decade, onward to the revival of crop tops and midriffs the last five years or so, slowly inching our interest up the torso.

You know, it must really be over 25 years since we’ve seen such a spotlight on the sleeve. Even back into the 90s, it was unheard of for a sleeve to demand such attention.


No, no. It was all about the unassuming t-shirt, the rebellious and slouchy flannel, the practical waffle knit undershirt. I mean what else were you supposed to wear with your broomstick skirt and combat boots. Hell-oooo!

So after long last, we woke up and remembered we have these funny jointed sticks between our hands and our collarbones that have been neglected for a quarter of a century. What the what! Party on the bicep, y’all! Let’s welcome this revelation with arms wide open, shall we?

Where to start, where to start, I feel like a cartoon villain wringing my hands with delight…

Alright here it is, let’s start with the exaggerated balloon peasant sleeve. This one has got to be my favourite in crisp woven cotton, it’s the ultimate in billowy romance and makes you feel like the heroine in a pirate movie. In a good way.

Bonus- if you’re really clever you could probably forgo a handbag for the evening because you could most definitely fit your wallet, lipstick and a hairbrush up there, NO problem.

Downside- you may need to find an equally voluminous coat (not too difficult these days) to avoid crushing your billowy goodness in your jacket and arriving at the party all wrinkly.

Next, let’s look at the poet sleeve. It’s more fitted through the arm, cinches at the wrist, sometimes with a tie fastener, and bells out over your hand. Definitely the realm of the dancing lady emoji and Stevie Nicks, or a combination of the two. That’s pretty fabulous territory to tread in.


Bonus: You don’t have to listen to Coco Chanel and remove one item before leaving the house. I say put on all your rings and bracelets because this sleeve responds to excess. I can hear Coco tsk-tsking in the background and I’m just going to shake my bracelets louder.

Downside: the sleeves and ties tend to drag in the soup. Watch for that.

That brings me to the bishop sleeve; it’s sort of the reverse silhouette of the poet and the coziest of the three.

Picture a loose drop shoulder with a wide sleeve that gathers at the wrist with a thick band. Goes well with a mug of mulled wine, Farrah Fawcett hair and a pair of broken in jeans. This look is more hearthside than dance floor and it’s okay with that.

Bonus: A chic choice when you feel like wearing a hoodie but know you ought to be a bit more polished.

Downside: Sometimes you feel like a secretary from the 80s or like you’re a bit overwhelmed in fabric. Tight jeans are key here.

Ohhh all this talk of sleeves has me salivating, and you know what that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There’s so many more styles to seduce you, so if you’ve been bored by the same old cap sleeves, raglans and batwings for the last however many years, get thee to the shops and embrace all the sizes and shapes of the season!

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