Let's Talk Shoulder Pads

Posted by Jen Anderson on

Let's Talk Shoulder Pads

You don't see a lot of shoulder pads these days. Shoulder pads were such a big thing back in the 80s that some people think they're out of style. But there's a reason why we use them in some of our tops and dresses. Customers tend to have a lot of questions about them, like...


Yes. This isn't a retro thing or a behind-the-times thing. When we use shoulder pads, it's for a very good reason.

OK, so what's the reason?

The knit fabrics that we use (Classic, Slinky Classic, and Jersey) are known for their drape. They move beautifully - as long as they have something to hang from. Some of us have strong shoulders, and the rest of us have decidedly not strong shoulders. Which is where the shoulder pads come in. They give the garment something to hang from if your shoulders aren't up to the job.

Without the shoulder pads (or good, naturally occurring shoulders), these fabrics hang limply.

woman wearing a black 3/4 sleeve top

Yeah, but the shoulder pads are totally visible in some of your photos.

That's because the models have fabulously strong shoulders. That's why they're models and I'm over here pulling my bra strap back up for the 30th time today. They don't need shoulder pads, but we don't remove them for photo shoots because we need to show our garments as they are.

But what if I don't need the shoulder pads?

You can remove them. Carefully. You don't want to accidentally cut the fabric. Use a seam ripper or very small scissors. Make sure you have plenty of lighting. Set the garment on a stable surface, such as a table. This isn't the time to work with your brand new top resting on your lap. Pull the shoulder pad away from the fabric and cut the threads holding it in place.

The stitching we use in garment construction is really high quality, which is why we can attach the shoulder pads with only a few stitches. Those shoulder pads aren't going anywhere on their own, yet they're pretty easy to cut out.

Without the shoulder pads, the sleeves of the garment will be a little bit longer than before.


woman wearing a navy blue short sleeve tunic
Won't the shoulder pads get deformed in the washing machine?


No. We use really well made shoulder pads that keep their shape. The high quality stitching keeps them in place. It's not like that incredibly inexpensive top you had several decades ago.

Why don't you use shoulder pads in every style?

Not every style calls for it. Either the garment is cut in a way that it hangs as intended without shoulder pads or the fabric isn't knit so draping isn't a factor. 

OK, but still - seriously?

You don't have to take my word for it. Here's what a customer recently said about the Vikki Vi Jersey Bordeaux 3/4 Sleeve Top:

I'm getting to love these tops with shoulder pads.

I enjoy wearing the very light weight swing cardigan, and this 3/4 sleeve top enables me to wear them in the winter. It's very comfortable and the shoulder pads are just the right thickness to lift my droopy shoulders, without looking like I did in the 1980's.

Try them for yourself.

Or don't. I'm not the boss of you and we have plenty of styles that don't come with shoulder pads. But if you do decide to try something with shoulder pads, you may end up a big fan.

Check out our other posts about plus size style.

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