How to Dress When Your Plus Size Arms Are Extra Plus

Posted by Jen Anderson on

How to Dress When Your Plus Size Arms Are Extra Plus

We (as a society) don't talk about upper arms as much as we should. I can talk all day long about how to dress when your hips, boobs, or tummy are disproportionately abundant. And I will talk your ear off about it because the more we talk about it, the more we can realize that not having an hourglass figure is perfectly normal. Having large upper arms is also a fairly typical situation - around 11% of women have lipedema, and some of us are just genetically predisposed. But it seems to be especially shameful for reasons that I don't really fathom. 


woman wearing black t shirt style dress
I did a quick Google to research this post and discovered that this isn't something the major magazines discuss. I found a few blogs that threw around words like "unsightly," "hide," and "too big." Longtime readers will know that I loathe those words more than I hate pantyhose. Too big for what, exactly? Of course, all the photos featured slim women whose upper arms don't actually cause a fashion conundrum. 

So let's get real - some of us have larger than average upper arms that can make it tricky to find clothes that fit properly. This is neutral information. The only issue is finding clothing with sleeves that aren't too tight on the upper arm. When your clothes aren't too tight, they're comfortable and they look better. 

No one is going to faint in shock from the sight of your upper arms. In fact, anyone who has an opinion on your upper arms isn't someone worth knowing. So let's focus on how to find clothes that fit well.

woman wearing a dark chocolate brown short sleeve tunic
Fabric makes a difference.

The slinky fabric that we use for most Vikki Vi Classics stretches, so it's less likely that the sleeves on those pieces will be too tight on you. Our jersey fabric also stretches, though not as much. Our sheer cardigans are made with woven material, so they don't stretch. With the other brands that we carry, remember that knits stretch and other fabrics don't.

 Some sleeve styles will make you happier than others.

Short sleeves that end in the middle of your upper arm are going to be too tight - just say no. Short sleeves that end right above the elbow are much more comfortable on big upper arms. Flutter sleeves, like those on Vikki Vi's T-Shirt Style Dress fit larger arms well.

Loose-fitting sleeves are obviously a great choice when you have extra plus upper arms. Kimono-style robes and dusters tend to have voluminous sleeves.


woman wearing black sleeveless tank
Or you could go sleeveless.


Hear me out. I know that if you have big upper arms, you may keep them covered no matter how hot it gets. You'd rather collapse from heatstroke than let people gaze upon your upper arms. You do you, but have you considered not caring? Don't forget the sunscreen, but just go for it and see how it feels.

With tanks and shells, you'll always have enough room for your upper arms. If you want to be covered up, a cardigan, kimono robe, or sheer topper will do the trick.

These are suggestions, not rules.

I'm just talking about which styles will fit your upper arms. If you're not crazy about flutter sleeves, then don't wear them. The goal here is to select a few styles that won't be too tight on your body. The important thing is to eliminate what's not working for you so that can you can be happy when you get dressed. 

Check out our other posts about plus size style.


I’m solidly in the Vikki Vi demographic.

I do understand where you’re coming from, but we prefer to encourage women to accept their bodies. You may want to check out this blog post on the subject:

Our knit fabric stretches wonderfully – even women with lipedema find our jackets and tops comfortable, so they’re an excellent option for covering your arms.

—Jen anderson,

I know you mean well, but saying ‘Have you tried just not caring?’ is very rude and inconsiderate and probably by someone who has never had the issue. I cam here to get style tips on covering my arms – not for someone to dismiss my concerns. One of the problems is many plus size clothes are sleeveless. For those of us who don’t want to go sleeveless, it is difficult to navigate. Don’t tell us to not care.


Yes I have suffered with this problem my whole life, when I look back on old photos of myself now, I realize that my arms weren’t so big back then. I have to keep them covered up, even in the summer.

—Shawanda wells ,

I was stunned how nice my upper arms look! Once I got over the “OMG SO MUCH SKIN FLOPPING AROUND” thing, and I started wearing the VV sleeveless dresses and tops, I realize that I look just fine. And if for some reason I want people to NOT look at my arms (on days when I’m feeling a mite self-conscious for dumb reasons), I toss on a spectacular necklace or earrings.
I’ve even started wearing strappy camisole tops!
Have a look at Lizzo — think she hides her fabulous, luscious arms? nope

—Kate in mi,

I prefer 3/4!sleeves because they are more flattering. I know
you are saying they are much warmer but the few inches are not going to make you sweat any more than the short sleeves that end at the elbow.

—Barbaracorin ,

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