After yesterday’s rant about blazers that fit big busts in front, I had a bit of a wakeup call while writing today’s Campbell & Kate blog post. There I extol the virtues of narrow sleeves and high armholes because they keep us from looking like we’re all bust, and they increase our freedom of movement.  Even though the photos below from The Houndstooth Kid are of a man’s jacket, they demonstrate this well. Imagine the photo on the left with large boobs, and you get a pretty good idea of how low, wide armholes–that allow fabric from the sleeves to stretch across the bust– are used to compensate for inadequate fabric at the bust.

This quote from his blog also does a good job of explaining things:

Today practically no off-the-rack suits and very few custom jackets are made with high armholes. Perhaps this is due to the ease [with which] low armholed jackets slip on and off (high armholed jackets are a bit more difficult, usually one arm at a time). Yet jackets are meant to be worn and if a jacket is uncomfortable or badly made (low armholes are a bad design) I do not want to wear it. I take it off. At least that part is easy thanks to the low armholes…

Last year, an image consultant told me that she has clients who flail their arms about to show how difficult it is to move and how stiff they feel in the jackets she puts them in. Her answer? She tells them that they’re not supposed to be comfortable in jackets!

Sadly, she’s both wrong and right. She’s wrong because in a perfectly fitting jacket, you would move so freely that you would have no qualms about keeping one on all day as you sat in front of your computer.  She’s right because most of us are unwilling to spend the money that such a perfectly fitting jacket would require. As I mentioned yesterday, even alterations are expensive. With so many business casual dress codes, the cost per wear of such a garment becomes pretty high (although the likelihood of wearing it increases with the fit!).

Now here’s the wakeup call I received while writing today’s Campbell & Kate post: If we could afford custom-made blazers with high, narrow armholes, we’d discover how low and wide the armholes are on almost anything we’d want to wear beneath them! The fabric bunching beneath our armpits would make this very clear. Suddenly off-the-rack tops and dresses wouldn’t be good enough for us. We’d want to have everything altered or custom-made. Such a dilemma.

I’ve mentioned before that we have to pick our battles. Even though it’s sacrilege to say, sometimes “good enough” will have to do. The challenge is figuring out when that is.  Maybe as I continue to come up with the wardrobe list that I wrote about earlier this month, I’ll discover when that is for me. What about you?

Finally, to inspire us all to continue to care about little details like these, I leave you with these photos of sleeve alterations made by Extra Petite.