Going sleeveless after 60 - une femme d'un certain âge

How to go sleeveless after 60

Susan B. wears a sleeveless v-neck top in seafoam, straight leg jeans and espadrille sandals.

Short answer: slather on the sunscreen, and go on about your day. 😆 But seriously…

There are few style topics that seem to elicit strong opinions as much as going sleeveless, especially at a certain age. Women have feelings about exposing their arms, and I’m not immune either. I’ve learned to disregard age-related style rules, but I do believe that we should wear what makes us feel both comfortable and confident.

top (similar) | necklace | bracelet | jeans | sandals

Today I’m joining up with my blogger friends Jennifer at A Well Styled Life, Deborah at Fabulous After 40, and Tania at 50 Is Not Old to share thoughts and outfit ideas for sleeveless styles.

I haven’t worn sleeveless styles often, and have rarely posted them here. I’ve always had some hangups about my arms, even in my youth. When I was around 6 or 7, my mother told me that my arms were “too fat” to wear sleeveless tops, and it stuck with me. And with age, I’ve developed some interesting, erm…texture on my arms. Plus, I can’t tolerate having my bra straps visible. (One “rule” I’ve never been able to let go of.)

And I run cold, so am only comfortable without sleeves when it’s quite warm.

But there are some plusses to sleeveless looks too, and I’ve wanted to get more comfortable with wearing them. For one thing, it expands my style options. For another, it can help create a more “vertical” silhouette. And sleeveless styles are often easier and more comfortable to wear underneath a jacket or cardigan when I need to throw one on.

Getting comfortable with going sleeveless after 60 (or at any age)…

Susan B. wears a Vince Camuto v-neck sleeveless top in seafoam with gold jewelry.

Aside from constantly reminding myself that it’s perfectly OK to look my age, a couple of things have helped me get comfortable with more arm exposure. One is that since doing weight and strength training as part of the Faster Way to Fat Loss program, my arms are more toned. I’ll admit, this program has made a huge difference for me, both in improving my strength/mobility and in increasing my confidence. (There’s a new round starting June 28 if you’re interested…)

I still have some loose, crepey skin on my arms, but I’ve recently found a couple of products that really help with that. One is U Beauty Sculpt Arm Compound. And I recently had the opportunity to try Biossance Squalane + Caffeine Toning Body Cream (gifted). I’ve always been really skeptical about “toning” creams, but both of these really firm and smooth the skin on my arms. My arms are far from perfect, but whatever “texture” remains I’ve decided to make peace with.

What I look for in sleeveless tops

  • Wider straps/shoulders and a narrower arm opening to keep my bra under wraps
  • If you have wide shoulders, opt for a medium width strap and deeper neckline (v-neck or scoop neck).
  • I look for cuts and fabrics that aren’t too clingy. (Personal preference.)

More tops like this one (with & without sleeves)

I endorse wearing what makes YOU feel most comfortable. Sleeves or no sleeves, shorts or long pants…we don’t owe it to anyone else to either expose or cover up our aging bodies. It’s really a matter of style and personal preference. And if you do go sleeveless, don’t forget the sunscreen!

Let’s go see what my friends have to say…

A Well Styled Life | Fabulous After 40 | 50 Is Not Old

In case you missed it, here’s last week’s Instagram live with the Over 50 Style Team, talking about tips for dressing different body shapes.

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41 Comments

  1. Robyn
    June 23, 2021 / 2:36 am

    For years I followed all the you shouldn’t wear…. after 50, 60, whatever the age. Within reason, I wear what I feel is appropriate. I have two sleeveless linen shift dresses I wear in the summer, one in black and the other navy. That being said, because it’s chilly indoors I bring along a cardigan or jean jacket. The way I see it is, if you don’t like my arms don’t look at them. Attempting to put women our age in a box is frustrating. It’s just another form of age shaming.

    • Susan
      June 23, 2021 / 6:21 am

      Bravo, Robyn! I could not agree more.

      • Brenda
        June 23, 2021 / 9:38 am

        Too true – Susan, you look beautiful as always. And to borrow a chant from the gay rights movement “We’re here, we’re aging, get over it”.

      • Robyn
        June 24, 2021 / 2:57 am

        Thanks Susan, , I’m a little over women our age being ignored or criticized. The top looks wonderful on you and the color is amazing. Yes, mothers do have such an input. My mom never criticized my looks, but my mom had a “thing” about being tacky. Whether it was looks or actions. So, I have grown up with a fear of tacky. It’s a running joke with family and friends.

  2. Anon
    June 23, 2021 / 3:04 am

    It is very, very hard to find sleeveless tops any more that do not have deep, gaping armholes. It is also difficult to find shirts that recognize that arms are wider at the top than at the wrist, or that sleeves need to be made bigger as the size goes up. Putting the same sleeve on every size means that some will not be able to get their arms in the holes. Honestly — quality control in clothing manufacturing is another victim of the Covid crisis. I have been spending time returning online orders for these crazy reasons. It wasn’t this bad two years ago.

  3. Dawn
    June 23, 2021 / 3:46 am

    I love the sleeveless look. I, however, don’t wear it unless I wear it with a sweater or jean jacket. Sorry your Mom said that about your arms. Comments by our mother’s like that do seem to stay with us. My mom would say that I would look so much better if I would just lose weight. Although I am not heavy, I always feel that way.

  4. June 23, 2021 / 4:26 am

    Isn’t it funny how a comment made when we were younger stays with us? You look fabulous, and I am glad that you were able to get past the hurtful comment from your youth.

  5. PatB
    June 23, 2021 / 4:46 am

    You look great and I agree that sleeveless gives a lovely vertical look. I usually sew an adjustment at the armhole. I am always working on the balance of being kind to myself and do I care what others may judge. Strange how many times we can feel invisible and we are also concerned that our arms may be noticed.

  6. Lianne MacGregor
    June 23, 2021 / 5:05 am

    I’ve been following your experience with the FASTER Way since the beginning and this post pushed me over the edge – I’ve just registered for the June 28 session. You look fabulous – not just fit, but more confident and comfortable in your skin. You glow with health. I can’t wait to get started.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      June 23, 2021 / 6:42 am

      Thanks Lianne, I really love this program and how workable it is. Very excited for you!

  7. Joan
    June 23, 2021 / 5:19 am

    Faster way to fat loss, I don’t like broccoli so was the diet hard? Also, with a husband to cook for is the diet hard to stick with? Thank you, Joan

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      June 23, 2021 / 5:45 am

      Hi Joan, it’s not really a diet and you don’t have to eat anything you don’t like. They offer a meal plan, but you can also do your own. My husband is a very picky eater and I’ve still been able to work many of the meals we normally eat into the plan.

  8. Eileen
    June 23, 2021 / 6:06 am

    I’m a pear with narrow shoulders, sleeves help widen my shoulder line, and are less likely to fall off my shoulders. I’ve worked out with heavy weights for many years, ( I’m a personal trainer) my muscles do show, but the loose skin remains, it’s connectivity loss due to ageing, that happening all over the body/ face. The information that we trainers get, says creams are too topical to actually firm. In the end I would say, wear what you want.

  9. Cher
    June 23, 2021 / 6:06 am

    Thanks for the 2 product suggestions for the arms. I have wanted to try a product but just didn’t know about the effectiveness. At 71 I’ve stopped wearing sleeveless as I only just developed the crepiness in the past year or so and I really don’t like how my arms look. Your words have softened my attitude a bit and that is appreciated. I want to think that it matters more to me than to someone else who probably isn’t paying any mind to my crepey arms! My goal is to not pay it any mind myself!

  10. Judi
    June 23, 2021 / 6:50 am

    Hi Susan
    You look great.
    I believe all of this good look and confidence is related to your weight loss. I remember you never going sleeveless.
    And your longer hair is so cute..
    You did the program faster way. It’s on the high end of cost in my opinion. However may be worth it.
    It really made a difference. You and Jennifer, Tania have all been doing something to lose weight. It can be seen. Clearly. There are some other programs as well done by other bloggers… and advertised ….all losing weight. The sad fact is many women cannot or will not pay the money it costs to do these programs. And most do not want to participate in group exercise or coaching. They want the steps/diet written and given to them to do on their own. Congrats to all of you. The pressure to look good to viewers and yourself is real. And you all have done well.

  11. Karen in Old Mexico
    June 23, 2021 / 6:51 am

    I agree with Cher—no one is paying any mind to our arms. This realization is liberating—wear what you are comfortable in. Really, it’s none of my business what others think of me.

  12. Ainsivalavie
    June 23, 2021 / 6:54 am

    I remember wearing a lovely sleeveless top many years ago when my MIL suggested that women over FORTY should not go sleeveless! This (then)over 40 was lifting heavy weights as well as a two year old and, occasionally his seven year old brother. My own mother ( not a stranger to her own wonky ‘what would the neighbours think’ ideas;)was not slim yet still favoured sleeveless tops in hot weather. I think my MIL response was partly cultural( French, convent educated) as well as just her own outdated views. I never gave up my sleeveless tops even when I stopped lifting and gained some weight. My husband is still wowed by my ‘guns’ and their strength. While no longer deadlifting my body weight I can swing a 17kg kettle bell. That’s good because now I am lifting a 3 & 1.5 with another on the way ( grand children). Having had a run in with melanoma I am careful!
    The only time I see sleeveless as inappropriate would be in some churches especially in Europe or where it’s culturally taboo. Otherwise ‘sun’s out, guns out’!

    • Elizabeth
      June 23, 2021 / 11:50 am

      Oh, the judgmental MIL! I have one of those, too – she NEVER wears even short sleeves, let alone sleeveless tops, because she doesn’t like the way her arms look, and suffers terribly on hot days in her long sleeves. Fine for her, but she also harshly criticizes any woman over 50 who shows a bit of crepey arm, although at least not to their faces. Moi, I can’t be bothered with that kind of self-consciousness. I built these big old arms up year by year, with a patient regimen of alternating swimming, pastries, gardening, and lifting babies/kids/dumbbells/wineglasses. There’s no way I’m going to hide them for the sake of someone else’s self-image problems.

      Susan, that’s just a great look at the top of the post – such a lovely aqua color! Thanks for the thoughtful advice on what to look for in sleeveless tops.

      • Claudia
        July 18, 2021 / 7:04 am

        Swimming, pastries and lifting babies, weights and wineglasses….LOVE IT!!

    • Anon
      June 25, 2021 / 9:36 am

      Great line!

      My husband once grabbed my biceps during peak baby-lifting days and said, “Wow, you’re strong.” We had a running Arnold Schwarzenegger joke after that. Amazing what 28 pounds of baby can do for those muscles.

      I wear long sleeves in the summer for practical reasons: sunblocking is a chore.

  13. Joan M
    June 23, 2021 / 6:56 am

    Oh my, sleeveless? Nope! I have always had big arms and stopped wearing sleeveless when I was 11 years old. Power to all you arm-show-offs, enjoy! Too bad so many women’s tops are in polyester. Not a functional material in the humid southeast.

  14. June 23, 2021 / 7:00 am

    So well said Susan!! I’m not happy showing my arms but I will if it’s blistering hot. The arm tone is one thing but the texture isn’t what really bothers me. I’m trying a few new creams as well. Confidence is key to me. If I feel good, I’ll wear it. This was fun. Thanks my friend!

  15. Ellen F
    June 23, 2021 / 7:53 am

    Yeah, I’ve gotten over it. I am 66, have taken reasonbly good care of myself, and like everybody else, I should be able to wear what makes me comfortable, both physically and emotionally. Over the past couple of years, I have taken to wearing loose linen trousers in the summer, because they seem to be the coolest and least restrictive thing to wear. If I wear them with a short-sleeved top on a hot day, I feel frumpy. With a sleeveless, higher necked tank or blouse, I think it looks sophisticated and it is oh so comfortable. And I have come to the conclusion that my arms are great…they bend at the wrist, elbow and shoulder, can pick up what I need them to pick up (within limits), give outstanding hugs and superior pats on the back, can provide excellent belly rubs to appreciative canines, and can even swim , do yoga, and play paddleball. Hooray for my arms!! Why should I hide them? I should also add that one important step in learning to accept my body is to try to catch myself everytime I look at someone else and start to think “oh, they shouldn’t be wearing that.” Who am I to judge? It takes an effort to stop that judgmental tape that was implanted in my brain years ago and seems to run on an endless loop, but we gotta try to erase it. It is so hurtful, to ourselves and others.

    • Lily
      June 23, 2021 / 8:47 am

      Ellen, you win the internet today! What a well written comment! Your summer style sounds spot on!

      • Kris
        June 23, 2021 / 9:42 am

        Couldn’t agree more…when we work on accepting ourselves, we’re able to extend that compassion and grace to others. Not easy getting there, and worth the effort.

    • Ainsivalavie
      June 23, 2021 / 12:49 pm

      I love I love this! Judge Judy lurks inside all of us,it’s challenging to give her the boot!

  16. Elisabeth Mestlin
    June 23, 2021 / 8:32 am

    While I was growing up Nobody ever said you can’t show your naked arms .( Germany)I don’t think we would have known what that means.so I don’t care what People think about my arms or,anything else that sags .I like lifting weights too ,it makes your core strong,it makes getting older more doable.I’m 71 .

  17. June 23, 2021 / 8:41 am

    You look great!

    Mothers can really do a number on us, can’t they? I’m finding that, when my business is slow, there’s a little voice in my head that says, “I guess people don’t like you.” Funny how that voice has an Estonian accent. And is named Renate.

    But that’s for another blog, like my own. 🙂

    I need to get back to working on my arms again. I sometimes will take any excess from my neck cream and wipe it into my upper arms/armpits. I see some crepey-ness sometimes in bright sun, and it makes me shriek.

    • Nancy MK
      June 23, 2021 / 2:37 pm

      Christine, somewhere Renate and Genevieve are cackling together……

  18. Jill Ann
    June 23, 2021 / 9:05 am

    I’m 64 and I absolutely hate the way my arms look. My upper arms have always been on the large side, plus now I have the loose crepey skin as well! Yay! Having said that, where I live it’s VERY hot 6 months of the year, plus I play tennis, and short sleeves give a Tennis Tan (in spite of sunscreen). So yes, I wear sleeveless, and just try to ignore my arms! I’ve also slacked off on my Pilates training the past several months & that hasn’t helped matters. Maybe I’ll quit being lazy & start working out again…..

    Oh, and I wear shorts all the time too (see above reasoning). And like the poster above said, I’m very grateful my arms & legs are sturdy & functional!

  19. Nancy MK
    June 23, 2021 / 9:35 am

    I like the statement “Do whatever you like as long as you don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.” I agee with Eileen. Notwithstanding very well-developed arm muscles, I have wrinkled arms. I do not care what others think but do not want to wear sleeveless dresses or tops because of my own aesthetic sense. Perhaps there is a difference between 50s-60s and 70s-80s. I also agree with those who are grateful for a functioning body, however it looks.

    Thanks for the lightweight long-sleeved suggestions, Susan, and now I will look into the creams, although I am skeptical.

  20. Susan D.
    June 23, 2021 / 10:08 am

    I’ve always gone sleeveless and I am 69 years old. I live in Texas and it is very hot here. I like my summer dresses–which are sleeveless. I choose not to be so sensitive about the imperfections of my body. It works for me!

  21. RobynD
    June 23, 2021 / 10:15 am

    I started swimming (reserved lap swims) last summer as a safe way to exercise during the pandemic. I love the workouts and as an added benefit my arms are toned and the jiggle has been minimized. I allowed myself a splurge on two AYR cool tees this summer and they look good. I’m heading to the pool later today to keep up the work on my swimmer’s arms!

  22. Jill
    June 23, 2021 / 10:51 am

    You look wonderful, Susan! The cut of the arm is perfect for those with broader shoulders. I had to chuckle about the no bra straps showing. We just got back from vacation with a younger couple(early 40s to our mid fifties) and there is definitely a generational divide. She wore a cute bralet with racer backs each day. It was adorable on her, but just can’t bring myself to embrace that look. One thing I find ironic these days is the fact that we all aspire to dress/look younger. When I was younger I couldn’t wait to have a more sophisticated look. I thought ladies my mother’s age were beautiful and had it all figured out. I am now older than them and am still searching for that elegance. I still see women twenty years older and think ‘that’s how I want to look!’

  23. June 23, 2021 / 11:17 am

    That green top is beautiful and I would wear it in a heartbeat. Only I really feel uncomfortable going sleeveless. Because of the crepey skin on my arms. I have tried, but I cannot do it. You have read that in my post with the green trouser suit.
    As for bra straps showing… I am the same, I won’t.
    Greetje

  24. Maggie Vita
    June 23, 2021 / 11:30 am

    Unlike you, Susan, I run hot, hot, hot! When everyone else is putting on sweaters or jackets, I’m the one in tank tops or t-shirts. I go for comfort first, and try to style even the most casual looks so that they don’t look like beach coverups. I found sleeveless, cotton knit (t-shirt weight) dresses in both knee and longer lengths that look great with nice sandals and one piece of jewelry to dress them up. If you’re on a budget, Target has options that can be accessorized to look classic and elegant. They also help camouflage any extra business on the tummy or hips while creating a lean silhouette. These are def my go-to dresses for warm weather and I now have a closet full of them!

  25. June 23, 2021 / 12:10 pm

    It’s amazing how that comment your mom made stuck with you for so long. But look at you now. Your arms are buff and you look fabulous in sleeveless!
    Love the color on you too Susan.

    Cheers, Deb

  26. Kay
    June 23, 2021 / 1:29 pm

    I find that since I have gone grey and use a cane, I have become invisible. I wear what I want now. In the billion-plus-degrees summers here, I am sleeveless more often than not. (Those mother-in-the-head voices are annoying, aren’t they?)

  27. Anne
    June 23, 2021 / 8:36 pm

    Great topic. I hope you feature more sleeveless tops during the summer!

  28. Karen
    June 24, 2021 / 9:22 am

    I loved watching and listening to the four of you ladies talk about appropriate yet still fetching clothing that we ladies over 50/60 can wear. Keep the commentary coming.
    KJ

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