I don’t really mind my upper arms, but they’re definitely what you’d call… …floppy. I have great shoulders, and I’m super-strong, but when I raise my arm and wave? Well, there’s some motion there, is what I’m saying.

For more summers than I’d like to admit, I sweated it out in elbow-length sleeves and flutter sleeves and anything with fabric to cover this area up. I was totally self-conscious about them from about the time I was 17 onward. And I still don’t like the way I look in a typical short-sleeved shirt.


Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing the matter with how I look and people definitely aren’t going to run away screaming or anything. But I’m uncomfortable, and don’t feel quite as awesome as I’d like to. And if I’ve learned anything from the past five years, it’s to think about why I might not like something.

For me, and short-sleeved shirts, it harkens back to my first rule of visual principles in clothing:

If you want to broaden the appearance of some part of your body, paint a horizontal line over it.

And that’s the key, for me and short sleeves. They draw a line across a part I’m less fond of, broadening and calling attention to it (and often denting in that very soft skin/flesh there, which is doubly noticeable).

Putting that rule together with short sleeves was an “aha!” moment for me. Because it meant that I didn’t have to cover them up anymore. I just needed to draw the eye elsewhere. Like, say, my rocking shoulders.


As you can definitely see from the side, it’s not that my arms are actually any smaller or more toned. But the eye is drawn elsewhere, to parts I’m more fond of. Particularly from the front, I feel like my arms play definite second fiddle to my shoulders, collarbone, and face–all parts I adore.


So there you have it. As the temperatures here in New England climb and we’re all looking for ways to cool off?

Instead of trying to cover up the parts you don’t like, try drawing the eye to those you do love, instead.