Hello, Spring? And Tops With Sleeves

New spring leaves on our elm tree. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Signs Of Spring…

It does seem that Spring is taking her time showing up in many parts of the hemisphere. I don’t envy those of you still dealing with snow and ice. Our winter, such as it is, arrived late and hasn’t entirely moved on either. It’s been a cooler-than-normal April.

My Liquidambar tree is just beginning to leaf out, which is later than usual, but our elm (pictured above) had leaves by March, earlier than usual. My friend Frances (materfamilias) posted gorgeous photos of new maple foliage on her instagram yesterday, which inspired me to try to capture the reddish new growth on the elm.

When warmer weather does finally arrive, I’m going to want to have some lightweight tops with sleeves ready to go. After my latest closet clear-out, I’m steering clear of gimmicks and sticking with simple, classic shapes and patterns.

Stripes and roll-tab sleeves make this cotton tunic a wear-almost-anywhere option.

The multi-directional stripes are an interesting detail on this top (Plus).

Everlane striped linen shirt. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I’m really drawn to the soft blue and white stripes on this relaxed linen top.  A possible alternative to my Easy White Shirts.

blue and white striped tunic with lace up neckline. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

This top has a nice relaxed, beachy vibe, but with a pair of white pants and strappy sandals, would be up for cocktails.

In a slightly different vein, this lightweight silk top hits that sweet spot between feminine and frou-frou, and would be the kind of thing I’d pack for travel.

Has Spring arrived yet in your neck of the woods?

More Spring Tops With Sleeves

Bon weekend!

Stay in touch.

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  1. GingerR
    April 20, 2018 / 4:55 am

    If I see one more top with bell sleeves I will explode.
    A big sleeve at the waistline doesn’t do a thing for me at all.

  2. April 20, 2018 / 5:15 am

    Bell sleeves are just an invitation to drag food and drink all over the table… I was leafing through a catalog that I received recently from a company from whom I have never purchased ANYTHING… (what were they thinking? just killing trees for the fun of it?) Every top – pretty much every garment – in the catalog was busy, by which I mean that they’d start with a perfectly lovely item, and then tack on some sort of utterly unnecessary ornament. Embroidery, sequins, appliques – it was a fest of Bedazzling!


    • Susan B
      April 20, 2018 / 7:32 am

      I think I know which one you mean… 😉

      • Duchesse
        April 21, 2018 / 4:40 pm

        I think of naming names of brands whom you assess to have missed the boat for a season to be a valid public service, you two!

        • Susan B
          April 21, 2018 / 4:54 pm

          Well, I can’t speak for Janice, but the brand I’m thinking of is Chico’s. They have a lot of great, potentially wearable designs, but then muck them up with too much pattern or embellishment. I think it’s part of the current industry trend to make clothes that are “Instagram-able.” Finding simple, well-made pieces that flatter a variety of body types is like searching for the Holy Grail!

          • Lisa B
            April 22, 2018 / 7:30 am

            Ahhhh, CHico’s!!! Yes! That DOES happen. Never bought anything there but I was also thinking Talbots. They tend to find a “mascot” for a season and stick it on everything. This winter it was Scottie dogs, this spring it’s ladybugs. Stop. Just stop. Clothes don’t need mascots.

  3. April 20, 2018 / 5:28 am

    Big sleeves can be very dangerous in the kitchen. And many of them are also very long. Otherwise, good classics.

    • Duchesse
      April 21, 2018 / 4:42 pm

      Lagatta, one of my neighbours received second and third-degree burns when her bell-sleeved lacy sweater caught fire while she was cooking. Fortunately her adult son was there; he said, “I turned around and saw my mother in flames.”

  4. April 20, 2018 / 5:29 am

    I forgot to tell you how much I liked your Spring photo, and those of materfamilias!

    • April 20, 2018 / 7:30 am

      Thanks for the shout-out! I love that photo of yours — those are the Spring details that delight me, the tips of red, the teeny leaves unfurling. . . . such a fleeting joy, we really have to keep our eyes open.

  5. Meg
    April 20, 2018 / 5:53 am

    Another vote here against the volume sleeve. I agree with Gingerr that they add volume where I least want it, bust waist and hips, none are in need of the visual widening of the sleeve. And they tend to make these in stiff fabric compounding the problem.
    Spring is very late here, I was walking the puppy this morning in down jacket , furry hat and Ugg gloves.

  6. Lisa B
    April 20, 2018 / 6:04 am

    Agreed regarding sleeves. I love VINCE clothing but this winter featured lots of voluminous sleeves cinched with long strips of fabric to tie in a bow. Even if you looped them around your wrist twice and tied you still may be dipping them in your plate while eating.
    I really love that Rails top. Nice change from my striped button ups. Would look great with some linen pants for the summer. Ahhhh, summer. Can’t wait. Last night I was debating whether I could safely put away my gloves and wool hats.

  7. MichelleTyler
    April 20, 2018 / 6:55 am

    I think we’re going to skip Spring altogether here in NJ 🙁 Shame that…
    It frightens me how irrational Mother Nature is now but it frightens me more that people are so ambivalent about why. Can we all stop pumping so much carbon into the atmosphere now please?
    Moving on….I love this JCrew silk shirt!

  8. Eileen
    April 20, 2018 / 7:24 am

    The bell sleeves are ok with my small chest, but the bells are way to big. Whoever designed the sleeve didn’t road test it. Many manufacturers seem to design to “hide” us instead of “flatter” us, in my opinion. That’s for showing flattering options to us.

  9. April 20, 2018 / 7:37 am

    Now that I’m wearing high-waisted jeans, I’ve been drawn to the idea of a tie front shirt…

    • Janice Gerow
      April 20, 2018 / 5:15 pm


    • Susan B
      April 20, 2018 / 5:31 pm

      Typo fixed (explaining the lol comment). 😉

  10. Lily
    April 20, 2018 / 7:59 am

    I agree with the comments, re: full sleeves. Why limit one’s layering options?

  11. Angela
    April 20, 2018 / 8:40 am

    I purchased the Everland shirt in the blue and white stripe. Apparently, the bigger the shirt–the longer the sleeves. As a busty 5’4″ woman the size 12 fit perfectly–with the exception of the sleeves which, when completely unrolled covered my hands. It’s going back. Just thought I’d mention this as I usually love Everlane–but this shirt didn’t make the cut.

  12. Nicole K
    April 20, 2018 / 12:55 pm

    The Sanctuary top is in my cart right now! I found a wonderful oversized blouse at & Other Stories that I really like. Simple, clean blue oxford cloth at a reasonable price. Also in white and now 25% off one item. https://www.stories.com/en_usd/clothing/all/_jcr_content/subdepartmentPar/productlisting_8cf1.products/product.oversized-button-down-shirt-blue.0572041001.html

    I will try to resist the ruffles trend after overdosing during the mid/late 2000’s on J Crew. That blouse looks exactly like several I purged about 5-6 years ago. It’s adorable, and I look forward to seeing your creative styling if it works out for you.

  13. Susan
    April 20, 2018 / 6:19 pm

    I love your website/blog. We have the same taste and I am surprised that I have not run into here in LA at our favorite stores. Plus we are both a Susan B! It’s charity time and seems that I am getting invited to a lot of “ladies lunches” for various charities. Is it possible for you to show how you dress (with pictures of you in outfits – not references to websites) for these occasions and even for fancy evening out. I hate wearing dresses (like you) and need help putting together some outfits.

  14. Jill Ann
    April 20, 2018 / 6:46 pm

    One of the trends I hope goes away soon is wide sleeves! There are not many circumstances where I want to wear that.

  15. April 21, 2018 / 9:10 am

    The other is “cold shoulders”. Ridiculous when it actually is cold, and an invitation to strange sunburns and worse on the shoulders. Applying sunscreen, then getting it on the surrounding sleeves?

    I see whole racks of those marked down to a fraction of the original price…

  16. Duchesse
    April 21, 2018 / 4:50 pm

    I need sleeves, long or maybe elbow length, and not those “cap” sleeves, which look like fabric grew for a short time out of an armpit, then died. But I find that unless I spend more than I really think a shirt should cost, the body is too short, or they skimp on details. This is a hard item to find with quality finishing, because a well-made shirt or blouse (not just a rectangle) has many features: plackets, darts, back pleat, cuff detail- as sewers know.

    May 1, 2018 / 7:15 am

    Love your site!

  18. Susan D.
    March 23, 2019 / 2:30 pm

    It is a shame that good design is sometimes limited to brands which are quite high priced. Right now, I am finding Lafayette 148 works for me. Not everything from this brand, but several things. They are not immune from the bell sleeve debacle. This spring I’ve found two tops there–one a long sleeved blouse and the other a long sleeved knit top. High priced yes–but I still have every Lafayette 148 item I have ever purchased in my closet.

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