Let’s face it–when a busty woman finds a top that fits her large chest, has a flattering neckline, drapes the way it’s supposed to, and comes in a color she loves, she may be willing to overlook sleeve length. I do all the time (case in point: the floral dress with cap sleeves that I purchased from JCP last month).

Sometimes, however, we have the luxury of sleeve options. When you do have that luxury, keep in mind another lesson I learned from Amy Herzog’s Knit to Flatter workshop: The ending of your sleeve acts as an arrow to that point on your body.  In my case,

  • short sleeves point to my bust,
  • elbow-length sleeves point to my waist,
  • 3/4 sleeves point to my high hip, and
  • long sleeves point to my hips.

large chest flattering sleeve length

In the pictures above, I really like the elbow-length sleeves because I feel like the they make me look more hourglassy even though I don’t have a super-pronounced waist. (For a different perspective, read Already Pretty’s thoughts on elbow-length sleeves in her post on sleeve lengths.) I believe this is one reason the Elise dress from Saint Bustier has looked amazing on every full-busted woman I’ve seen wearing it.

It almost goes without saying, but sleeves that end at the bust can place a simple black top squarely in “look at me” territory, as I discovered in 2010. In that post, I noted that I preferred waist-length sleeves to hip-length sleeves because they made for a “less cluttered look” on someone with my 5’3″ height.

large chest spotlighted via cap sleeves

A large bust is only one of the factors that goes into determining the best sleeve length for you. In the comments to last week’s waistline/neckline post, Wide Curves wrote,

“The other phenomena I noticed, since I am so short waisted, is I can only wear very short vertical(ish) sleeves or 3/4 sleeves that fall below my elbow. Everything else makes my chest/shoulders into a giant “box” and visually places my bust on my hips-especially if the sleeve ends around my bust.”

What factors determine your own sleeve-length preferences?