Outfit: Statement Sleeve Top | une femme d'un certain âge

Late To The Party

Susan B. wears a black tiered bell sleeve blouse, French Kande pearl necklace and Chanel flap bag. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

A Statement Sleeve Top For The Win

top | necklace (similar) | bracelet | watch (similar) |
bag (similar)  jeans (similar) | shoes (similar)

So I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit behind the curve on the whole Statement Sleeve thing. A little resistant, actually. As fun as they look, I couldn’t get past the image of all that fabric dragging through my salad at lunch.

I’m not sure what originally inspired me to order this top, (other than the fact that the sleeves were a bit shorter, and it was offered in Petites) but I’m so glad I did. I absolutely love it! Another excellent addition to my Going Out wardrobe. (And I’ve lunch-tested it…no salad mishaps!)

The crepe fabric has some body to it, and it doesn’t cling. I took a chance and went up a size from my usual, and my instinct was correct. (I’m wearing 8 Petite.) There are bust darts in the front and shoulder darts in the back. It’s machine washable and comes out of the dryer without a wrinkle.

Susan B. wears a J.Crew statement sleeve top, and French Kande pearl jewelry. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I picked up that pearl necklace (similar) at the French Kande sample sale last month, and it’s been in heavy rotation ever since. The pearl bracelet is from the summer collection.

French Kande pearl bracelet with vintage French medallion, Chanel classic flap bag. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I’ve had this Chanel classic flap for years. I still love it, and have decided to start using it more, rather than saving it for special occasions. Here’s a budget-friendly bag with a similar look.

Susan B. wears a top with bell sleeves, a pearl and vintage medallion necklace, and metallic mules. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Those silver brocade mules were a lucky find in Vancouver, when Lisa and I flew up to visit Frances in June. They were on the clearance rack at Brown’s Shoes, and I’ve never seen them online since. Here’s a pair in the same aesthetic ballpark.

Are there any styles you’ve changed your mind about recently?

Photos by Tannaz Tan. Instagram here.

Stay in touch.

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  1. Jill
    November 16, 2017 / 3:05 am

    Flirty, feminine, and just down right darling on you! Love it!

  2. Jan
    November 16, 2017 / 3:24 am

    You look lovely in this outfit Susan, it’s just perfection.

  3. November 16, 2017 / 3:37 am

    That’s the only “statement sleeve” blouse I’ve seen that I’d consider and for the same reason you like it — the sleeves are shorter. That fabric sounds amazing, btw.

    I loudly second your decision to start wearing “the good stuff.” Just like using our good silver, drinking our good wine, and wearing our good jewelry, we should give ourselves permission to wear our best clothes in any combinations and situations that please us. BTW, I am such a fan of the high-low approach to combining clothing pieces and so like this combo you’ve come up with.

    A last thought — I appreciate that some readers don’t care for jeans. Everyone is entitled to (and should) wear only what pleases them. Speaking for myself, although I don’t wear jeans every day, they are the trousers of my generation and my preference whenever the scene and activities do permit. They’re comfortable, flattering (when well fitted), and a modern classic.

    As always, others’ mileage may vary. 🙂

    • jean
      November 17, 2017 / 5:01 am

      i enjoyed this trend in 1970s, I’ll pass this time around but I totally agree with you on the good stuff and combining high and low. now in my 60s ive never enjoyed fashion more!

  4. Adele Miller
    November 16, 2017 / 4:05 am

    The top looks fabulous on you, great find! I hear you on the sleeve length, that’s why I have shied away from the trend….until I stuck my toe in the water with a black, sweatshirt style bell sleeve top with 3/4 sleeves that I found in Marshall’s (I think it’s Gibson, which is a casual brand also carried at Nordstrom). Only one flounce, and the price was right. Very comfortable and not at all in the way.

  5. sequinist
    November 16, 2017 / 4:06 am

    I love this on you; the proportions really look super on you. I caved last year and got a dress with (short like yours) trumpet sleeves. I really like it, but I am not going to buy more than one thing with this trend. xx

  6. November 16, 2017 / 4:15 am

    Re styles about which I have changed my mind? It was not exactly recently… but… Back in the Dark Ages when Polarfleece was a newly introduced substitute for winter woolens, I dug in my heels. “Never!” said I, as I continued knitting sweaters, mittens, etc. Now, of course, I own five fleece jackets/tops. (In New England, chilly is pretty much a constant from Oct. thru Apr.) 🙂

  7. November 16, 2017 / 4:26 am

    The blouse looks really good on you! I too have shied away from this type of blouse. I really am not into frills, ruffles, and one shoulder tops, etc. I firmly believe in wearing what I am comfortable in.

  8. Elizabeth
    November 16, 2017 / 4:30 am

    I have been looking for a black top to wear with a couple of dressy skirts and my red velvet pants. This will be perfect. Just ordered it and got 25% off! Thanks Susan!

  9. November 16, 2017 / 4:37 am

    What an adorable outfit!! Everything about it is amazing…… shopping as I type for this look…Thank you!!!

  10. Sue
    November 16, 2017 / 4:53 am

    I always admire your French Kande necklaces…but do the medallions scratch the pearls? I’m making a medallion in my “empty-nester” metalsmithing class, and I have to decide what to hang it on. Thank you for the advice!

    • Susan B
      November 16, 2017 / 5:54 am

      Hi Sue, I have not found that they do.

      • Sue
        November 16, 2017 / 6:49 am

        Thank you, Susan. It’s nice that you answer so many comments, and so quickly.

  11. PatriciaB
    November 16, 2017 / 4:57 am

    What a coincidence! I, too, have stayed away from the statement sleeve, but just last night I found a velvet version on Talbot’s website that I’m tempted to try. It comes in green or black velvet.

    I’ve long coveted a Chanel bag, but have never been able to pull the trigger on a purchase. Yours looks like a perfect size and I love the neutral hardware. Good for you to use it more.

  12. Pamela Elaine
    November 16, 2017 / 4:58 am

    Hello Susan I too have’nt been to keen on the whole statement sleeve trend, they are growing on me and I think as long as us ladies of a certain age don’t go to over the top with puffs and flounces the one you are wearing is rather elegant,Just think of the fashion back in the renaissance era, my goodness how on earth did they iron those outfits! Well just a bit of fun, but seriously the delicate frill draped sleeve is nothing in compared to well even the Ladies of Downto Abbeys and I for one oohed&aahed at those gorgeous costumes. So let’s embrace the delicate statement sleeve,I shall be looking out for the more elegant frill like yours, so smart.Pamela from Wales x

  13. Elizabeth Tierney
    November 16, 2017 / 5:17 am

    Okay, I have to ask: how do you get a coat or jacket over those sleeves? Every time I see a top like the one you are wearing (and your’s is darling) all I can think of is bulges and wrinkling. I know you don’t want to hide the ruffles, but winter is coming!!

    • Susan B
      November 16, 2017 / 5:22 am

      I don’t know that you do, unless the sleeves on the coat are wider. For our weather, I think I’ll be able to get by with a poncho or wrap. If it’s really cold or wet, I’d wear a sweater anyway. 😉

      • November 16, 2017 / 8:16 am

        This was exactly my question as well. I do have one winter coat with wider sleeves. Perhaps I need to hie me to J. Crew to see if it would play nicely with that blouse. . .

    • Lea
      November 16, 2017 / 6:17 am

      Elizabeth Tierney It depends on the stiffness of the fabric and how much room there is in your coat sleeve. I had the same thought but have been pleasantly surprised how easily my one-and-only bell sleeve top fits under my coats. The bell sleeves are no more annoying than 3/4 sleeves, a trend I resisted forever! Go try one out in a store, try it under a coat, that’s what I did. Have fun!
      Susan, I might try this black top, its gorgeous! And keep wearing “the good stuff” every day, I do!!!

  14. Kathryn Marie
    November 16, 2017 / 5:32 am


  15. Pam
    November 16, 2017 / 5:47 am

    This is really adorable. I’ve been looking for a painterly floral blouse or top but have passed everything over because of the bell and/or ruffle sleeve thing which I generally do not like. But it looks fresh and cute on you. Will have to revisit.

  16. Lois cardillo
    November 16, 2017 / 6:04 am

    So glad a friend turned me on to your blog.
    What was the travel kit for makeup you recommended a while back ?

  17. Meg
    November 16, 2017 / 6:09 am

    I really love that look, it’s so fun and cute on you! I have to be very careful with that volume. If it is too high on the sleeve, my bust looks larger. If it’s in the middle, my waist visually grows. and the long length? Well, adding width to the hip is not my favorite thing.
    I did find a version of the statement sleeve at Chicos in a back 3/4 sleeve dress. The ‘bell’ on the sleeve is bracelet length and is very modest- just a small flare and it suits my figure! So I get to ‘come to the party’ too!

  18. Lisa
    November 16, 2017 / 6:48 am

    Okay! You sold me! Just purchased that top and added it to my black top wardrobe. Yup! Another black top. Luckily, my J Crew rewards card came yesterday. I tried to order it in Ruby but it wasn’t available in petite 10 or a regular size 8. Will keep you posted. On another note, my Navy Scapa jacket is getting a workout here as our weather has been mild this fall.

  19. Deborah Williams
    November 16, 2017 / 7:56 am

    Once again you have hooked me! I have also worried about the SALAD FACTOR with these new sleeves. I ordered this and will put it to the test for the holidays. Thank you, Susan for being my personal shopper!

  20. Alexandra Martella
    November 16, 2017 / 8:31 am

    Love this top and I got a very similar one (in burgundy) at Nordstrom Rack for about half the price!

  21. Pamm
    November 16, 2017 / 8:31 am

    Really cute on you!

  22. Cindy Lou
    November 16, 2017 / 8:43 am

    Smashing outfit! You look great in this top!!! I love the way you styled with jeans and lux touches with shoes and purse. The necklace is perfect. I met you last month at the French Kanye sale and I may buy that pearl necklace next. I love the one I bought-it goes with everything!

    • Susan B
      November 16, 2017 / 8:48 am

      Hi Cindy Lou, I remember you! Thanks! And I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying your French Kande necklace. 🙂

  23. LW Strick
    November 16, 2017 / 11:49 am

    I’m with Meg: quite apart from the salad and coat issues, sleeves with volume tend to add visual weight wherever the volume is — I have never found a full sleeve top that did not make me look heavier somewhere. A skilled dressmaker once taught me that a fitted sleeve would always be the most slimming —she said you should see as much air between the arm and the body as possible. This is true for me, so I am skipping this trend. No dolman sleeves, bat wings or boxy dropped shoulders for me either.

    I have re-thought skinny pants though. For years I have been saying “not at my age…”(70), but I recently found a pair in a ponte knit that do not cling and look sleek and up to date with my longer jackets and sweaters. So sometimes “never” means just keep looking.

    I am wearing my good jewelry to the supermarket these days. If not now, when?

  24. Kay
    November 16, 2017 / 12:48 pm

    I am a klutz, and the salad-sleeve issue rings true for me. I have an evening wrap/poncho/kimono in burnout velvet with lots of fringe, sleeves, hem, etc. I love it, and I’ve had it for years, but I always manage to drag the fringe through something every time I wear it. It’s silk, and I have to hand clean the little fringes every time. I can’t be trusted with a statement sleeve, so I’ll sit this one out. You look great, however.

  25. Susan D.
    November 16, 2017 / 12:50 pm

    I love how you look in this ensemble Susan (and I am a bit of a harsh critic..) And, your smile is stunning. Love reading your blog and read every entry.

  26. Nicole
    November 16, 2017 / 1:07 pm

    I love this style. I have one in a light pink that I lament no longer fits and was tickled to find them a few months ago and in 100% cotton. They were such a great deal I bought two. It’s a feminine style and I think that geometrically it is flattering to slim and curvy shapes.

  27. Susan B
    November 16, 2017 / 1:39 pm

    For those of you who asked about wearing a jacket over this top, I just tried it on with my Agnes B. jacket. Pas de problème. I think as long as the jacket sleeves are lined with a slippery material and aren’t super snug, it should work just fine.

  28. Rebecca F
    November 16, 2017 / 1:56 pm

    All either backordered or sold out in the regular sizes. Boohoo.

    • Susan B
      November 16, 2017 / 2:34 pm

      Just spotted a very similar style from Ann Taylor here: http://shopstyle.it/l/nHcK I haven’t seen or tried it in person so can’t attest to the fit or the fabric, but it’s currently 40% off with code FRIENDS40.

  29. November 16, 2017 / 2:09 pm

    Hello Susan, this top suits you so much. The length of the sleeve is perfect! I too have recently purchased one similar after much trepidation. I love it!
    Cheers, Doreen

  30. November 16, 2017 / 3:10 pm

    I bought a beautiful bell sleeve sweater a few months ago. The sleeves had three layers, and it made me look like I was wearing a clown costume (even though the fabric was a lovely, muted grey and green leaf pattern.) I looked carefully and realized I could cut off the third layer. It’s infinitely more flattering! I wore it for the first time yesterday and got so many compliments. So much depends on where those sleeves fall, as Meg noted above!

  31. Bitsy
    November 16, 2017 / 8:09 pm

    What is the fabric made of? The website doesn’t say.

  32. Shybiker
    November 16, 2017 / 9:10 pm

    The top is so stylish! Its wonderful sleeves create an appealing shape. Extra points for not wrinkling. In answer to your question, it’s amazing how many trends I reverse my opinion on after giving them a chance.

  33. Vicki
    November 17, 2017 / 1:02 am

    This is a fabulous look on you.
    After having purchased ‘cold shoulder’ dresses and tops which are very popular here (Australia) – I was told that I didn’t suit them as I have broad shoulders.
    I’ve reverted back to the style you are wearing plus I’m also a fan of bat-wing style tops (very forgiving).

  34. Joanna
    November 17, 2017 / 8:09 am

    This is a very cute look on you, Susan! I’ve resisted this trend but may have to try one on this weekend.
    I think if you fold the bell it may fit into your coat sleeve without wrinkling too much.
    I believe we should wear our good clothing, eat on our fine china and drink out of crystal. I’ve found my children don’t want any of these things, as have many women I talk to, so why not enjoy it. Enjoy the fruits of past labour.

  35. November 17, 2017 / 8:51 am

    Great looking outfit. I also love the more casual look of your hair. You get better and better!

  36. November 17, 2017 / 12:37 pm

    A fab look. I love tops with darts!! The top looks so good as do your necklace and bracelet. I am always tempted to buy a necklace and then I always decide against it haha.
    Your shoes contribute to the modern vibe of your outfit. Very well styled and a bit of the adventure you were longing for?

  37. November 19, 2017 / 12:17 pm

    I’d completely resisted the bell-sleeve thing until one of my colleagues came to a meeting wearing a blouse that had very simple, modest ones, and I’ve been looking for something along those lines since. I don’t wear ruffles — they wear me! And I’m tall and “sturdy.”

    That top is perfect on you!

  38. Janice
    December 19, 2022 / 12:37 pm

    HI Susan,
    Happy Hanukkuh!
    Can you tell me what size your tank watch is in these pictures? I have always admired it on your wrist .
    Thanks !!

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