Body-Type

12 Clever Ways to Hide Flabby Arms in Summer

We can all joke about our flabby midlife arms that seem to jiggle like jello. But they’re no laughing matter when in summer you’re struggling to find clothes to cover them up. If you are self-conscious about your arms and want solutions to hide the jiggle and stay cool, this post is for you.

Here are 12 clever ways to hide flabby arms in Summer. For Spring tops, see: Best Spring Tops for Aging Arms.

1. Wear 3/4 Length Sleeves

Tops for Flabby Arms - 3:4 Length Yellow and White Striped top

yellow sweater

For 99.9% of women who prefer wearing sleeves, it’s their upper arms that they want to cover. One of the best ways to do this is with 3/4 length sleeves.

Besides hiding jiggy upper arms, 3/4 length sleeves make your whole body look trim. That’s because this type of sleeve ends at a very narrow part of your arm, highlighting your firm forearms and delicate wrists and making you look slimmer overall.

Three-quarter length bell sleeves are adorable!

2. Choose Eyelet Sleeves

Summer Tops with Sleeves - White eyelet

eyelet top or this one

Tops with eyelet sleeves or with laser cutouts are another great way to camouflage your arms in summer. Eyelet’s tiny decorative holes let the air in but don’t reveal a whole lot.

3. Roll Up Your Sleeves

roll-tab blouse

Wearing long sleeves in summer can sometimes make you look stiff and matronly.  But if you push up your sleeves, you will get the upper arm coverage you crave, and you will look more sporty and youthful.

These days, many blouses come with roll-tab button cuffs, making it easy to hold your sleeves in place. Roll tab sleeves also give you a relaxed, chic look.

4.  Elbow Length Sleeves are Fine Too

Tops for Flabby Arms - Elbow Length sleeve Blue and White Striped top

blue striped shirt

Elbow-length sleeves are similar in length to roll-up sleeves, so they are another great option. Just avoid any sleeve that is above elbow length ( between the shoulder and the elbow). This includes short sleeves or cap sleeves that barely cover the shoulder. These will draw attention to and emphasize your flabby arms.

5. Opt for Sheer Sleeves

Tops for Flabby Arms - Pink Floral Blouse Sheer Arms

pink blouse  or pink blouse 2

Floaty, sheer sleeves that end at the elbow, forearm, or wrist are super pretty and very summery.  Try sheer chiffon and semi-sheer organic linen sleeves to look and feel as light as air while camouflaging arm jiggle. If you can’t find a sheer-sleeved top you like, how about a cotton or linen top with sheer insets?

6. Wear Wide, Voluminous Sleeves

Tops for Flabby arms- Blue scarf poncho top

blue poncho top

Tops with long, regular width sleeves that sit close to the body are hot.  So, if you go for a long sleeve,  keep your sleeves loose, wide, and voluminous.  Kimono sleeves, long flutter sleeves, bell sleeves, or wide sleeves cut on an angle all look great. Scarf tops and Poncho top with batwing-type sleeves covering the upper half of your arms also look stylish.

Tops for Flabby Arms - Navy and Yellow Peasant Blouse

Peasant blouses always have wide sleeves and are easy to find. This blue and yellow print blouse with the V-neck, is one of my favorites with jeans.

7. Wear a Light Cardigan, Wrap, or Cute Jacket

Tops for Flabby Arms - Black and White Cardigan

If all else fails, throw on a cute cardigan or wrap it with a medium with a sleeve.  A cute cropped jacket is a 40+ gal’s best friend when it comes to covering her arms and shaping her midlife figure.

8. Wear Lace Sleeves

A pretty top or blouse with lace sleeves or lace insets is a fun and feminine way to highlight your arms without baring all.

9. Light, Long Sleeves Are O.K. Summer Tops with Sleeves - Peach Polka Dot

Long-sleeved tops are not off the table for summer, so long as you choose a cool, light fabric. A light-colored top with white pants or a white skirt will look summery and keep you fresh because light doesn’t absorb the sun’s heat the way dark colors do. Of course, a top made of light, breathable fabric helps too.

10. Distract with an Off the Shoulder Top

Most women have great shoulders, so a top that covers your arms but exposes your shoulders can be beautiful, alluring, and take the focus completely off your arms.

Summer Tops Sleeves - Beige Knit Sweater

11. Try Crochet Sleeves

Crochet is a big trend this summer, so why not use it to your advantage to camouflage shy arms? This cute summer top covers lumps and bumps but doesn’t look hot and stuffy.

Tops with long netted sleeves worn over tanks or camisoles are always popular in summer and help divert attention away from saggy arms.

12.  Refocus Attention with a Cold Shoulder Top

If you don’t want to go totally off the shoulder, consider a long sleeve cold shoulder top. This is a fabulous way to look sexy and camouflage your arms at the same time.

Want to know more? You can listen to me speak on this subject. Check out my Podcast –What to Wear in Summer to Hide your Arms?

Join the Conversation

44 thoughts on “12 Clever Ways to Hide Flabby Arms in Summer

  1. Hi there,
    Thanks for the tips. Unfortunately though, all the models in the pics had slim arms.
    regards
    Leena

    1. Hi Leena,
      I have no control over that unfortunately. I have to work with the photos supplied by the stores online. The tops will still work though. All the best, Deborah

  2. I don’t wear dresses, so I am opting for white jeans for my work Xmas dinner, what type of top and shoes would go with the jeans, Thankyou.

    1. Hi Karen,
      White Jeans at Christmas always look great when you create a white on the white monochromatic look and throw in some gold or silver. For example, white jeans and a creamy white or even taupe sweater with gold sparkle or silver embellishment. Don’t try to match the whites because you never will, and it won’t look right. You are better to layer various whites and whites and be sure they are different textures to keep your monochromatic look interesting. As for shoes, light taupe or off white booties or metallic or sparkly pumps would be nice. Here are a couple of posts with white jeans outfits for Christmas that might give you some ideas: https://bit.ly/3rPEBvo and https://bit.ly/38WVT11

  3. I’m very disappointed with this article. Usually, your articles affirm our capacity to look good and feel great, but I found this one was body-shaming. As mentioned in a previous comment, the flabby arm in the picture was not flabby at all; mine is much worse. I found the sleeved pieces you showed to be quite beautiful, and I’m happy to read an article about wearing sleeves, I am very light-skinned and need them. Please don’t try to make me feel bad about my body.

    1. Hi Andrea,
      I’m sorry you were disappointed with the post because I don’t mean to shame anybody or make anyone feel bad about their body. I have flabby arms too, no matter how much I work out. It’s just the way things are at a certain age. In fact, my girlfriends and I joke about our jiggly bingo wings all the time. My arms don’t bother me, and I’m fine with sleeveless most times, but many of my ladies are arm shy and email regularly asking for suggestions for “tops with long sleeves to hide their flabby arms”. I’m here to help. As for the feature photo, you are right, her arms aren’t so much flabby, as she is just showing loose skin, which is often the bigger problem, however, you get the idea. I’ll be on the lookout for a better photo, and I’m all for my readers going sleeveless if they like, at any age. No one is judging them. It’s how they feel that counts. Thanks for taking the time to write in. Cheers, Deborah

    2. Hello there everyone

      I am a fashion designer specializing in crochet, knitwear, and fabric fashion … I have a shop where I design, make and sell my designs

      It’s amazing just how many times I hear the words ….”I have to have sleeves I hate my arms, I’m so upset I can’t wear pretty sundresses anymore. “

      So I’m now in that age bracket and while I’ve always made things to help with this problem I now realise just how upsetting it is …

      So I’m currently y hot on the case designing and making my summer stock of beach dresses and everyday dresses.

      My absolute 2020 mission through this year is to come up with designs that sort this problem out for good.

      I make sheer sleeves with a bolero style top and crochet pieces you can add to any sundress to cover those bits of the arm that we don’t want to show without it being a heavy too hot cardigan.

      Please feel free to let me know your heart’s desire ( mine is covering the awful wrinkly skin and bingo wings “

      Any input would be instrumental, and I can honestly say here we go again with no catwalk designer speaking for older fashionistas or offering a cute feminine sexy but classy range for growing old prettily !!

      It’s all in the pipeline hoping to be ready for this spring-summer.

      Would love to hear from any of you xxx Mia xxx

      1. Hello. I live in Georgia, and of course, it’s hot here from spring to early fall. I have the flabby arms issue, and years ago, tops with kimono sleeves were perfect for hot temps. Is this no longer “the style”? Also, finding all cotton, loose-fitting tops are becoming a challenge to find, as well.

  4. I agree with Dawn. I live in Tennessee where it not only gets hot, but incredibly humid. I love to explore different parts of the city and surrounding areas on foot. I love tank tops but can no longer wear them w/o a cover-up. I lost some weight and my arms just literally went south along with my thighs. I have several white linen or cotton, longer Greek fisherman’s shirts which I can wear over almost any sleeveless top for casual wear. A hat and a small cross body bag finishes up my wanderlust clothing. I also love men’s pleated golf or walking shorts, cotton, for casual exploring. They are at-the-waist, usually looser and longer and have deeper pockets than women’s shorts. If put together right, you can look absolutely smashing while being comfortable and covering up.

  5. Just bought ELLE Mix-Stitch Flyaway Cardigan from Kohl’s it is the perfect weight for warm weather!

  6. Why can’t somebody design and market net or lace arm covers much like the sort of thing Audrey Hepburn would have worn for sophistication
    Do you know anybody who does this?

  7. I lived in Tucson, Arizona, for three years and learned some essential fashion tips. Always cover your arms and carry a 3/4 or full-length sleeved, breezy white linen top with you to cover up with. Wear it unbuttoned over anything. (Only “not-in-the-knows” went bare-armed.)

    Always wear or carry a hat, wide-brimmed or straw, and always carry a bottle of water in a cute holder. A water bottle is a fashion statement! And, never let a perfectly good patch of shade go to waste. Locals would laugh at the bare arms and faces of tourists and newcomers, and with good reason. The sun isn’t just hot, it sizzles on your skin, no matter what your ethnicity.

    I now live in St. Louis, Missouri, and I still apply my Southwest fashion tips. I am fashionable, as well as UV conscious, and always look fab. If someone comments that my arms are always covered, I agree that yes, they are, and always will be, and do it with the best fashion statement of all, a smile.

    1. I’ve lived in Tucson for years, and I’m so so not concerned about arms. I wear shorts when I want and no sleeves when I want, which is much of the time I’m out running around. If you don’t want to look, you don’t have to. On a scorching day, when I have to drive a long way or if I’m out in a park for hours, I wear a UPC 50 shawl and a UPC 50 hat from Coolibar (or Amazon). If I am going somewhere that I do care, I wear a kimono over sleeveless or, very occasionally, an elbow-length blouse which on a 5’2″ person like me, ends up being 3/4 ” sleeve.

      If a person is concerned about the size of their arms and not flab from losing weight or if there is a lot of flab, any sleeve is constricting, hot and uncomfortable unless it is huge, which, if you are concerned, makes you look fatter. So I decided to embrace a problem I can’t do anything about (my weight is due to prednisone, which I need to take, but which balloons my upper body out. And I’ve always had disproportionately large thighs, even as a child. If I can live with it, so can the rest of the world. If you can’t, look the other way and miss out on knowing an awesome person!!!

      1. Hi Lin,
        That’s great. I love your confident attitude, but for the gals who are self-conscious about their arms, or just prefer to cover up, I hope I have provided some good solutions! Cheers, Deborah

  8. This is just the help I was looking for. I don’t care to have my flabby bumpy arms showing. So your ideas were a great help. Thanks you for the time you took to help those who want it out.

  9. I have to find a ball gown that has at least 3/4 inch sleeves to hide my flabby arms. It is very difficult because the dress designers all put sleeveless or 1/4 inch sleeves on their dress creations! It is hot as well, and I have no idea what I am going to do.

    1. Hi Jessica, I’m sure you are overly self-conscious about your arms. I really wouldn’t worry about it. Everyone will be in the same boat. Non-the-less have you tired a specialty store like http://www.davidsbridal.com
      Besides being a bridal store they carry a lot of party gowns and you will probably find something. There are a lot of dresses with sheer 3/4 length sleeves which are nice because you get the coverage you want but the dressy doesn’t look heavy or hot. Another suggestion is to just take a light wrap. A wrap looks elegant but camouflages jiggly arms. I hope that helps. You’re a beautiful woman and no one will be focusing on your arms so relax and enjoy.

    1. Hi Kaiah, Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I am limited by the photos supplied by retailer and we all know they use skinny, young models. I always tell the young gals at various brands, imagine looking at an online catalogue of clothes with all 50 and 60 years olds wearing the clothes..wouldn’t it be hard to imagine how it would look on you. But nothing seems to change much which is why I do at least try to feature some 40+ bloggers in outfits. You can check out my Styleblazers series here:https://www.fabulousafter40.com/category/street-chic/styleblazers/ Cheers, Deborah

  10. This is a brilliant idea, thank you for sharing. I have just purchased some. Now I will be able to wear all the sleeveless dresses I have without showing my flabby upper arms.

  11. This is not a good thing to write to make women feel good about themselves.

    The thing is you can dress up, put on makeup, get a flat stomach, but these are just tools to help. Until you feel beautiful and authentic inside, style and beauty tips are just sticking plasters, like plastic surgery, the scars will always be there, the aging process will catch up with you and one day you will have to come to terms with that. Confidence is beautiful. If you REALLY want women to look and feel beautiful help them celebrate their natural beauty. Don’t tell them they are ugly and that they should cover up!

    1. Hi Janette,
      Sorry to have offended you. I’m not telling women they are ugly and should cover up. I’m just saying what we all know, that our bodies are getting softer and rounder as we age and it can be rather annoying at times. So you just have to have a chuckle about your wobbly arms and move on, or find a dressing solution that makes you feel more comfortable. Personally, I’m fine with going sleeveless, even though my arms are not so firm anymore, but a large number of my readers are not. I get hundreds of letters asking what to wear to cover flabby arms, so that is why I have tried to supply my readers with some dressing suggestions. I agree that it’s important to celebrate your beauty and know clothes are just tools etc. but I don’t see anything wrong with wearing a sleeve if you want to. Cheers, Deborah

      1. Thank you for the tips! I have thick arms and legs, and I am always looking for clothes that will flatter my figure.

      2. Thank you for this article. I for one choose to cover my arms in summer. This type of article subject is just what I needed. Thank you for writing it for myself and those like me. Maggie

        1. This is exactly the kind of feedback. I needed some suggestions on how to camouflage the giggly wobbly underarm flab. Thanks

    2. Frankly, this type of article is what a lot of us appreciate since the reality is our arms are flabby when we reach a certain age. To each their own. I want to project a confident image and part of that is looking my best.

  12. Great tips, I really liked the ‘roll up your sleeves’ tip. Quite obvious but had never thought of it!!

  13. Thank you for this post….it seems as though the style bloggers are only sporting sleeveless and tee-shirts these days. I really like your options. I was also wondering if you knew anyone that was posting silver accessories the bloggers I have seen has had all gold accessories. I am also looking for cool tones and colors not warm colors. Thanks for your help and hard work. Love this post

  14. I have bemoaned the fact that around here, the buyers have declared war on short sleeves! It’s Tank-a-Palooza or 3/4 sleeve. Extremely few short sleeves, half sleeves or even cap sleeves. What happened? Did we not get the memo?
    As a stopgap, Deborah provides some great choices until 7th Avenue regains their sanity. Luv the raindrop top.

  15. Practice the magician’s art of distraction. A lavish group of bangles/bracelets draws attention to wrists when paired with a sleeveless or halter top/dress. DItto for a statement necklace and earrings that draw focus to the neck and shoulders with a strapless gown.

    Strut the big bling with those special occasion outfits that are sheath dresses, sleeveless, strapless, and halter styles. And don’t forget that red lipstick: anything red grabs center-stage attention every time!!

    1. I’d never heard of sleeves2go before. What a great idea! Just passed the link along to a couple friends who are always complaining about never being able to find anything but sleeveless. Clever solution!