Sunday, April 02, 2017

Sleeves, Please!


Painting: "The Conversation" by Daniel Ridgeway Knight, American, 1839-1924


Today I am showing sleeves, because they are absent on blouses and dresses sold in stores. Many people overcome this disadvantage by purchasing boleros, jackets, shawl sweaters, and jackets to provide needed sleeves.  However, this creates more weight and layers that may be uncomfortable to some people, resulting in having to go sleeveless anyway.  My experience is that a dress should be able to stand on its own, without adding more things--even scarves and shawls. The homemaker needs to wear garments without a lot of accessories.

One thing I enjoyed about the styles of the 1980's and 90's was the variety of sleeve designs. It was not a fashion era of all one kind of sleeve, collar or bodice. The variety was endless and interesting, as you can see by the pattern pictures I have included here. 

Let us consider why we have no sleeves on women's garments today and ask a few questions about it.

1. Why are there so smany jackets and sweaters and little boleros in the stores wih sleeves, but not so many tops and dresses wih sleeves? It seems to be no trouble to put a sleeve on a jacket but not on a dress.

2. Why do most men's clothes have sleeves, but not women's?  In weddings, the men have long sleeved shirts covered by long sleeved jackets, long pants and are covered from neck to ankle but the women I have seen in weddings are shivering from the cold.
3. Why did the design technology of the previous decades include such a vast array of sleeves in sewing patterns and commercial clothing, but they cannot manage the same feat today"
4. Some people say the demise of the ladies sleeve is due to the extra cost of hiring someone to set in a sleeve, it takes extra skill, and costs more for the fabric. This does not seem to be a hindrance to creating sleeves on men's clothing.
As a seamstress and avid stitcher and lover of cloth, I find sleeves exciting and plan to keep wearing them no matter what the style.  I see women whose arms are not fit enough for sleeveless clothing, painfully and self-consciously wearing the sleeveless garments just because it is all they can be found.
Sleeveless in Victorian times was worn for evenings but generally not very popular to wear daily or while on the street, in shops, and daytime. In fact, the sleevelessness and the leggings and many of the get-ups worn in public today were worn only by circus performers in Victorian times.

I would like to find out the number and brand of the pattern below but the picture was a Pinterest collection and the number was cut off. I would love to purchase this and make it and wear it. I have no idea how to trace it.
Some people assume the Victorian clothing was all alike, but if you look carefully, there was a great difference in the sleeves and bodices and skirts from one garment to another. In fact most of the time no two dresses or blouses were exactly alike, just as it was rare to find two houses exactly alike.




I have seen ladies so uncomfortable in "sleeveless" that their husbands or boyfriends had to remove their own jackets in order to cover the poor shivering lady.
There are of course the alternatives of buying that extra sweater or jacket with sleeves and wearing it over the sleeveless dress. A lot of ladies do that, but in hot weather it is necessary to remove the jacket, and there are many ladies who just don't like sleeveless.


Some of the paintings I find from the previous centuries just would not be so pretty without the sleeves, and that is the way I feel about clothing today!


I noticed on the blog What Kate Wore the royal lady wears sleeves in public most of the time. Her designers seem to have no problem creating sleeves for her.


More sleeves:





19 comments:

Lydia said...


Lollyg has left a new comment on your post "Sleeves, Please!":

This is perfect timing! I am searching for a dress for a formal family party at the end of the month, and all I can find are sleeveless dresses. It was just in my mind to perhaps buy one of these, and wear a sweater over it. I have changed my mind, and plan to hold out. I wish I was a better seamstress. Great post, thank you!

Dawn said...

I see so many dresses that I'd consider if they'd only have sleeves. It's such a disappointment to find a dress that's great in all ways except that it's sleeveless.

The tops in the first Vogue pattern would be right in style today with the high-low hemline.

Last year I bought a beautiful dress to wear my nephew's wedding. It was sleeveless so I bought a coordinating sweater shrug to wear with it. That darn shrug kept shifting and twisting so much that I was constantly rearranging it and I looked disheveled in all the photos. That all could've been avoided if my dress had sleeves.

Gigi's Blog said...

Yes, yes, yes! This is my problem - especially since I cannot sew well enough to just create my own dresses. In the summer, I really struggle with outfits - I can make a skirt but I cannot find a shirt to go with it - unless it is a tank top with a light sweater overtop and as you mention, that is just too many layers for summer heat. It is a problem for me indeed and a frustrating one.

Vintage Ellen said...

I think sleeveless dresses are popular because women who exercise regularly like to show their "toned" arms. It seems like a lot of women on TV wear this type of dress. I like a 3/4 length except in summer - easier to wash dishes!

Mrs.O said...

I always end up wearing a small cardigan over my dress or blouse.
I am so hot in the summer! I just try to smile through the pain of the heat! ( HaHa)
Mrs.O

~Kimberley said...

I am wearing a tank today, but am working INSIDE my home doing Spring cleaning. My favorite dress however, is a long sleeved long skirted dress I DO wear around the house especially when I have a live flower in my hair. My men folk really like it when mom *dresses up*

anonymous said...

I agree with Vintage Ellen, there is much to do with showing more skin now. I prefer to wear the elbow length or 3/4 length sleeves because it is more comfortable for me. Even in the summer I prefer Rayon fabric dresses and tops with sleeves since they are cooler to the skin and the fabric absorbs perspiration better then polyester and acetate.

Thanks for sharing, Janet

Lydia said...


Many of the Fox News TV ladies are going sleeveless these days....I always feel they must be mighty cold, while the guys right next to them are all suited up....

sure wish I had bought some of your old patterns when they were available...they are just the prettiest!

Thanks for this inspiring post , Lydia!

Lynn

Lydia said...

In a feeble attempt to provide sleeves, the manufacturers and designers make them so unflattering, often tightly conforming when ladies want to have a look that is more attractive. Even younger women are complaining,

Lydia said...

What I mean is they don't design anything interesting in sleeves, just making them flat and droopy but not with any figure flattering elements. Ladies without built up shoulders or arms need something better.

Mrs. C said...

Like you, I'm something of a pattern afficionado and I found that missing pattern info: New Look 6874. Published sometime in the 1980's. I hope you find that helpful!

I agree with Janet (anonymous) above about using rayon in summer - I find my skin does not get that hot when I have my arms protected from the sun and rayon is lightweight and breathable.

Lydia said...

Mrs. C thank you for the time and effort to find the pattern, and I am going to order it!

Lydia said...

1980's New Look 6874 is impossible to find available. Survey the company printed more than 5 of these!

Polly said...

I too rue the plethora of sleeveless dresses. I was just looking in a clothing catalog last night that features dresses and found *ONE* dress that had sleeves and looked suitable (others had lace sleeves, but I'm not looking for fancy--just everyday!). Wedding dresses are the worst; a few years ago I was tasked with helping a relative find a wedding dress. Everything is *strapless* which I think is one of the worst styles out there--very difficult to get a good fit, not very flattering, and pretty revealing for a church wedding. We found something suitable eventually, but still had to have a modesty panel inserted. *sigh!*

I'm hopeful that the Duchess of Cambridge will help usher in more sanity in fashion. ;)

Sharon C said...

Love the patterns, they are similar to what I woe.The dresses now are so tight, they are revealing too much.I am the person who asked jor hour address. SHARON. Tried e-mailing you,I am not sure if it went through.

Dawn said...

Lady Lydia, I found a New Look 6874 pattern on Etsy.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/272550614/new-look-6874-circa-1980-misses-suit?ref=market

Lydia said...

Mrs. c and Dawn, thank you both for helping me find this at last.

Lydia said...

Sparykys9 has left a new comment on your post "Sleeves, Please!":

I suspect that part of the reason for no sleeves and blouses too low cut is partly immodesty, but I also think it causes a lot of women to buy two shirts instead of one. This of course makes manufacturers and retailers more money. I get pretty excited when I can buy a "one shirt-shirt". I live in the humid midsection of the country and two shirts in the summer is beastly

Jennifer Haden said...

I'm so glad I've found your blog today! I so agree about not having sleeves. I can never feel comfortable going without something over my arms, just feels too revealing. And I've never liked the feeling of extra layers, as you've said. I've given up almost completely on current fashion and the way it's going. I have reverted back to vintage clothing that is more modest and sewing my own.

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