Statement Sleeves: love or loathe? Let's discuss...
When it comes to all things style, I’m usually pretty decisive. I’m not prone to procrastination or dithering over my clothing choices and being north of 45, I'm pretty sure of what works for me and my lifestyle. Until, that is, you get me on the subject of the statement sleeve. You see, despite being an early adopter of the trend, I’m still a bit yay and nay about them. My old stylist side loves them – visual, dramatic and shoot like a dream – while my consumer side sometimes wonders if they are actually more bother than they are worth.
Let me cut to the chase and explain in a little pros and cons list.
The Pros of Statement Sleeves
1. Instant impact. On goes the top, jumper or jacket and you’re instantly on trend, Instagram ready and of the moment – even if your bottom half is lagging severely behind the times.
2. They are usually long with a wide opening at the cuff/hem meaning not only do they camouflage that often tricky upper arm area, they also make your wrists look slimmer.
3. They are ageless and look as great on an eighty-year-old as they do on an eighteen-year-old.
4. They’re a serial catwalk trend that the high street has totally embraced, meaning there’s a fantastic selection out there at all different price points.
The Cons of Statement Sleeves
1. Often impossible to cook or eat in – unless you enjoy living dangerously around a gas hob or partial to wearing your soup, rather than your heart, on your sleeve.
2. You often can’t get a jacket on with them and if you can, the sleeves usually either bunch up and bulk out your arms or dangle down to your knuckles. Either way, not the most flattering.
3. They make you lazy. OK, they make me lazy. Rather than think about pulling together a fresh, new look from my closet, I’m now in the habit of just grabbing some jeans and throwing on a statement sleeve sweater or top and, if I really want to make an effort, a necklace - statement, of course.
4. Everyone is wearing them and there’s a bit of an underlying competition to outdo the ‘standard’ statement sleeve meaning some are getting to the ridiculous stage.
Cons aside, I’m going to stick with them, not least because I’ve now bought so many of them (I mostly wear self coloured tops on television to avoid clashing with guests or my male co-presenters so the sleeves help add some interest) and it would be wasteful, to the point of wicked, to get rid of them. Also I’ve now lived with them long enough to have found ways to make them ‘work’ a little better for me and, if you're considering or maybe struggling with statement sleeves, these little tips may well work for you too.
Want to hear my tips?
First up, chunky fluted or bell and balloon sleeves are best for days when you don’t need a coat. I usually just team my favourites with an oversized scarf if I’m feeling the chill and carry a pair of leather gloves. The images directly below are an example of me wearing my fave Zara soft touch top, with a blanket style scarf from H&M thrown on top.
If you are going to attempt a jacket, try to fold the sleeve in on itself. It doesn’t completely stop it crushing but it does help - a bit - with the bunching up.
A cross body bag works well with chunky styles too but if you can’t see passed a shoulder bag, make sure the strap’s a decent length. Too short and bunching becomes an issue again on some tops and especially sweaters.
Let the sleeve be your main point of interest, so don't over accessorise otherwise it can get a bit busy. A good example is the Topshop sweater pictured below. The only addition here is a long thin scarf I've kept tight to my neck in a bid to keep the look, if not the sleeves themselves, clean.
Consider shortening the sleeves to bracelet or ¾ length. That way you still get the statement look but may actually be able to eat easily.
If you follow me on Instagram you'll know I love an oversized look but you don need to be careful here as a voluminous sleeve paired with a full skirt or paper bag style trouser top can make you look bigger than you are. I tend to stick with a slimmer silhouette on my bottom half to balance the look out.
Ironing can be a pain at the best of times but especially on cotton fluted or ruffled sleeves. I tend to use a steamer on them to get rid of ceases but if you're iron has a continuous steam function that will work too. Simply pop on a hanger and steam away. A new take on being 'totally steaming'.
If you opt for anything with a tie or ribbon detail, consider sewing them in situ to avoid constant retying. It sounds petty but it's a total pain and easily solved with a couple of stitches.
Make your statement sleeve the last thing you put on by going down the jacket or chunky cardi route as I've done here in this balloon sleeve knit from River Island pictured below.
So what's you take on a statement sleeve? Love or loathe? And have you any tips or advice on wearing them? If so, don't be shy in getting in touch either by email or by the comments section below. Also do let me know if you'd like me to start doing a high street edit in my posts with some sartorial suggestions. Happy to do that but don't want you to think I'm trying to sell to you!
All Photography by Susie Cormack Bruce