Maxi Dresses To Cover Your 40+ Arms

paisley maxi dress with sleevesHi Deborah,

I love maxi dresses! I remember wearing them in the 60’s and 70’s.

My daughter always tells me, “If you wore the style the first time around, you shouldn’t wear it when it comes back.” And, the truth is, I don’t want one that shows all my cleavage or my arms.

I like dresses with color and print. Have you seen some fun, maxi dresses with sleeves that work for women our age? Thanks, Nancy


Hi Nancy,

A Paisley Print Maxi dress like this would give you lots of color and coverage. The neckline can be adjusted to show as much or as little cleavage as you want, and there are sleeves. It covers, but it still looks alluring because of the subtle slits at the sides.

I’m sure your daughter means well, but I’m going to have to disagree with her. In fashion, there is not much that is truly new and original.  Looks get recycled.  If we all followed your daughter’s “only once in a lifetime” rule, there’d be nothing for gals 40, 50 and beyond to wear.

Maxi dresses are back in style,  but as usual there are new fabrics, patterns and details that make them fresh modern.

For gals who want to cover the top part of their arms only (the jiggly bit), this rich red cold shoulder maxi is a fantastic option. This dress camouflages your problem area, but still looks and feels very summery.

red cold shoulder maxi dress

Both of these dresses because of their colors would also transition nicely into fall. All you would need to do is add a jacket or a throw.

I’ve picked out a few dresses that fit the bill,  and I jotted down a few things to think about when buying the perfect long-sleeved maxi dress. Take a look.

Style Tips For Wearing Long-Sleeved Maxi Dresses:

  • A long-sleeved maxi in a solid, dark  color will look more dressy than a light/bright summery print, so if you want to look festive and fun, choose a lively print or a dark solid with splashes of bright color.
  • A little skin looks youthful. If you prefer to cover up your arms but still want to look sexy and youthful, then try a wrap dress style. This will show off your chest and make your neck look longer which equates to making you looking slimmer.
  • Choose a long-sleeved maxi dress in a  soft silhouette skimming fabric that follows your curves. A long-sleeved maxi in a crisp or stiff fabric will make you look bulky and dowdy.
  • 3/4 length sleeves give you the coverage you want on upper arms that jiggle and 3/4 are a sportier, sexier look than a full-length sleeve.
  • Make sure you get the right size. With so much coverage, you don’t want to be drowning in fabric, especially if you’re short or petite.

These kind of dresses are great for covering your arms, and they also do the trick if you prefer to hide your legs in summer. A very lovely, sophisticated solution!

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  1. Allison Chun says:

    I’ve had good luck finding tasteful and inexpensive wrap dresses at TJMaxx, Marshall’s and Ross. I think the most I’ve spent is $29.99. So don’t give up hope finding these…

  2. renee dittrich says:

    I have a few maxi dresses and skirts, and although I like them I wonder are they still in fashion for spring/summer 2015? I was thinking of shorting a couple favorites to update them. I’d love your opinion.

  3. Nancy Shoemaker says:

    I love your column, reading every post and learning something new all the time. I do have a request…when sharing some of your favorite “picks” would you share samples in more of a price range for most of we gals. I don’t have the budget to shop Diane Von Furstenberg’s $350 to $700 dresses.
    Thank you!

  4. Jan Pytlarz says:

    I have looked at Maxi dresses again and again, my son’s girlfriend looks adorable in them, but I just feel like I would look out of place or like I was “putting on airs” wearing them for every day. I hope I get the “guts” to try one this summer!

    • Hi Jan, You really need to try one. They’re very mainstream now. I think it’s like anything. Sometimes new things take some getting used to. Go for it! I bet you will look great! Cheers Deborah

    • stephanie hansen says:

      Jus tell everyone you’re an artist. Artists are allowed to wear anything they want. LOL It’s like having “poetic license” for fashion. Our jobs are to express ourselves. If questioned about our fashion choices, we simply respond by saying, “This is what I was ‘feeling’ like wearing today.” The end, amen. Me? I practically live in maxi dresses and receive nothing but comments like, “My gawd, I LOVE your style! It’s just gorgeous!” I wear pure cotton, linen, and silk. I am petite, and the dresses are a bit large and flowing, but I wow them with fun accessories like fabulous jewellery and scarves to keep the dresses fun and current. SO comfortable and unfussy. Can wear them anywhere at any time for any occasion. To the library or to the party. You MUST try one, darling!

  5. Sleeve lengths to my ellbow or 3/4 are definitely my favourite ones! I do like to wear shorter sleeves when I am a bit suntanned… or finally will go to the gym again regularly…
    Also our climate most times of the year requires longer sleeves anyway.
    I really look forward to the warmer season when I can wear these lovely maxi dresses again!

    Annette | Lady of Style

    • Hi Annette, I also like the 3/4 length. They show some skin which is youthful but they give you the coverage so many women want. I’m seeing more and more so I think designers may be finally getting the message that women are sick of sleeveless especially us 40+ gals! Cheers, Deborah

  6. Heather Edgecombe says:

    I love maxi dresses and skirts–particularly a plain black one (I know–you prefer less black, but it suits my coloring). You can do so much with them! Denim vest, white denim jacket, cardigans, scarves, flats, belts, etc. One thing I’d love to see from your website is an article showing the different ways to wear a wrap dress (not necessarily a maxi wrap, just a regular knee length). Boots, pumps, scarves, cardigans, etc.

  7. Monique Penn says:

    I recently purchased a maxi dress and I cannot tell you enough how flattering this is.
    What’s great about the dress is that it covers up a multitude of flaws. I can wear it to work; I recently wore it to a wedding and you can dress it down with boots.

    Monique Penn

  8. Kirstin says:

    Thanks for the lovely suggestions. My daughter wants a maxi dress and some of these would look great on her. Can I make one request? I would really love to see how these dresses actually look on women over 40 who want to hide their upper arms, like me. It’s hard to imagine it when the dresses are on girls in their teens and twenties without arm cleavage or flabby upper arms.

  9. Patricia says:

    At 50 years young I never thought I would wear a maxi dress…until i tried one on. And now I LOVE them! I purchased two from Kohls, in CA, last year. They have a huge selection of adorable maxi’s! One of mine is a thin cotton and the other is polyester. Both with understated prints. I like to wear mine, weather permitting, with a short, thin colorful or neutral cardigan unbuttoned, and flat sandals. They’re so fun and breezy for evening or daytime. My husband comments on how nice I look every time I wear one! And they’re SO comfortable and and forgiving when I’m feeling a little a, ehem, puffy. Next time you spot one you like when you’re out shopping just try it on…you may surprise yourself and love the way it looks! I did!

  10. Kristen says:

    I haven’t made the leap to the Maxi…I have tried a few on ( all without sleeves)wasn’t happy. I will see if our Nordstroms has the Abigal silk wrap…

    My thought is that the rayon ones I have tried on are going to be way to HOT! And if I get hot…well them mother nature thinks I want to host my own holiday and on come the hot flashes. So maybe the silk will be better.

    Nanci-As for cleavage issues I bought these wonderful bras from Soma(now others have them) they have a lace insert across the front…no more taping a dress down or having to layer. link:

    I really love them. I have seen others at Macys and JCP.

  11. Pippapia says:

    I just can’t get into the maxi dress for summer. They are very cute, but to me, look like they would be just tooo hot for warm days. All that extra fabric flopping around between the legs just makes me want to have a hot flash looking at it! :)

  12. Hi Ya’ll,

    Thank you so much for responding to my question. I immediately ordered two that kind of distracted you from my less than perfect upper arms.They look nice. I find many dresses with cleavage so low cut that you have to tape the dress to your skin just to keep those bad girls from popping out! And when its hot out, do you really want one more piece of clothing like a camisole?

    Thanks again – you do such a service to us!

    • Great Nancy,
      Love these! If anyone else purchases one please let us know. I’m curious as to which ones you ladies like the most.

      • Patti Broome says:

        I am 60 years young, 5’2″ 118 pounds. Bought a beautiful coral maxi from jJill and a print one. Also purchased coordinating cardigans to wear with them. jJill sells alot of linen maxi dresses which are super comfy and look fabulous. The dresses can bd dressed up or down drpendent on your needs.