I’ve always been curvy, with a more distinct apple shape, and it took me a long time to truly love and embrace every part of my body.
This is not always easy, even now I catch myself getting all caught up in what’s good and bad according to the beauty standards. An unexpected comment from a stranger or even a loved one can set me back from the hard work I’ve put in in order to love me as I am.
I know that clothes won’t fix my feelings about my self-image, and I’m not writing this article to tell you how to dress up to “fix” you. The truth is that our strong thighs, resilient arms, and soft belly don’t need fixing.
What clothes can do is help you have fun and enjoy the body you already have!
Some might believe that elbow sleeve tops might be too risky for those of us who are plus size, and they probably think this way about capris pants, a myth I’ve already busted.
But curvy women aren’t all the same and elbow sleeve tops aren’t either, so you just have to find the one that is just right for you, and the occasion you want to wear it to.
So, let’s explore what exactly makes an elbow sleeve top plus size friendly, and most importantly go through my list of the 7 best elbow sleeve tops for curvy figures. If you make it to the end, you’ll also find a few tips on how to style these tops.
But if you want to skip ahead and see which elbow sleeve tops made it to my list, you can check them out here:
- Best Overall: Auslook Women’s Plus Size Tunic
- Runner Up: Uxcell Women’s Plus Size Peplum Top
- Best Casual Wear: VISLILY Plus-Size V-Neck Tee
- Best For Work: Woman Within Button-Down Shirt
- Best For Working Out: Foreyond Women’s Plus Size Mesh Workout Sport Tee
- Best For Dressing Up: Romwe Plus Size Peplum Wrap Blouse
- Best Polo Shirt: Woman Within Plus Size Elbow-Sleeve Polo Shirt
Let’s get started!
Can Elbow Sleeve Tops Look Flattering On Plus Size Women?
The short answer is heck yeah!
But I’m also happy to give you a more detailed explanation as to why elbow sleeve tops are actually more than flattering, as well as practical.
First of all, this sleeve length is great when you work in an office because you can forget about cuff stains. But aside from being practical, the elbow sleeve is the perfect choice for all of my big girls that feel a bit self-conscious of their upper arm and are too afraid to wear a t-shirt.
The elbow sleeves can also be a great alternative to shorter sleeves during the hotter months and changing the length of your sleeve helps add versatility to your style, instead of hiding all your beautiful skin under oversized blouses.
While I know that elbow sleeve tops can look great on anyone, there are useful tips and tricks that can help you find the one that works for your body type. Clothes are all about working with your proportions and highlighting your best assets!
Consider The Sleeve
The elbow sleeve is nothing new in the realm of fashion, nonetheless, it’s a very attractive choice because it offers more coverage than a short sleeve. It works great for fall, spring but also summer.
Since they are longer than a regular short sleeve, the elbow sleeve can elongate the arm, instead of adding too much bulk, especially for those of us who are heavy at the top.
Elbow sleeve tops can also vary in how long or short they are. If it’s your first time trying out a shorter sleeve you can go for one that’s between an ¾ and an elbow sleeve. For some this might be too long, so you might want to try a length that’s still longer than a short sleeve but doesn’t reach your elbow completely.
When it comes to sleeves the length isn’t the only thing you need to consider. The width and the type of sleeve hem can be quite versatile from one shirt to another. A fitted sleeve isn’t usually my first choice when it comes to elbow sleeves, so I go for the wider option like the butterfly sleeve. Another great option for pear-shaped ladies is the off-the-shoulder sleeve, while a kimono-style sleeve can work for someone with broader shoulders.
These small changes in length and width can truly make a difference. The cut of the sleeve can either draw attention to your waist or create an appealing distraction.
I know those of you who can’t imagine yourself wearing anything other than a long-sleeved top, will begin to feel that sinking sensation at the pit of your stomach, which will make you reluctant to try a shorter sleeve.
And while no one should be pressured to dress in a way that makes them uncomfortable, please don’t let yourself be forced into a long-sleeve box.
I think a 3/4 sleeve and an elbow sleeve are great transition lengths. I personally was scared of elbow sleeve shirts and now I’m happy to wear a tank top. Before you say no just try an elbow sleeve top and you might fall in love with shorter sleeves!
Choose The Right Fit
While the type of sleeve you’ll choose can make or break a top, you need to look at the whole picture before making the final decision.
Certain shaped clothes flatter different body silhouettes and that’s true for all shapes and sizes. Sure, you can break these rules and make your own, but I think when you’re trying something new it’s better to choose the safer option before experimenting with something you’re not familiar with.
So, my advice for you is to figure out what body type you have, as well as what sizing works for you.
If you have an apple shape like me, then you might want to look for loose-fitting style tops that float over your belly and overall your mid-section. If I have my proportions right then I feel more confident in the type of sleeve I can wear.
For my pear-shaped ladies, you can go for a structured and well-fitted top. In fact, the more fitted the better, and by choosing a butterfly sleeve you can create the illusion of an hourglass figure.
Don’t be afraid to examine your body, look at your curves and you’ll discover all the ways you can make them shine instead of hiding them in the shadows. And the elbow sleeve on the right top can help you achieve this.
Remember to measure your proportions so you can compare them to each brand because it can be tricky to simply rely on all the XL and 1X, or the numbers that change from one country to another.
The Material Makes The Difference
I think it’s also important to mention the importance of the material we choose. Certain materials can make a top look baggy or stretch in places where it shouldn’t stretch.
As I’ve already mentioned I try to avoid clingy tops and synthetic fabrics are usually my worst enemy. Soft cotton on the other hand or floaty silks work better on my body type instead.
You should also consider when you’re planning to wear a top with an elbow sleeve. A sturdier material can work for fall and early spring, while light materials can keep you cool during the summer.
With the growth of fast fashion, I try to be more conscious of what I’m buying and why I’m buying it.
For example, I tend to get easily cold, so I know that wearing an elbow sleeve top during the winter, no matter how warm the top is won’t cut it. That’s why I only go for thin flowy fabrics with a shorter sleeve during the summer.
Then I also like to make my final decision on the top’s actual purpose. Do I need to freshen up my basics by adding an elbow sleeve top? Am I looking for a top that I can wear on a date with my husband, or on a girls’ night out?
Best Women’s Plus Size Elbow Sleeve Tops
Before buying a new item of clothing, especially tops, I try to follow the principles listed above and when an elbow sleeve blouse perfectly combines these principles then I know my purchase is going to leave me satisfied.
But everyone has their own body type, their own purpose, and preferences when it comes to clothing. That’s why I tried to make a list of elbow sleeve tops with all of my curvy ladies in mind, and follow the advice I’ve given.
1. Best Overall: Auslook Women’s Plus Size Tunic
- Available in sizes up to 5XL.
- This top comes in multiple monochromatic colors and patterns that can go with any season.
- The soft and stretchy fabric makes it comfortable to wear.
- The top is machine washable in cold water, so it's easy to maintain the bright colors.
When I was making this list I knew that my number one choice had to be a blouse that can be worn on different occasions, and looks great on larger women like me.
This tunic definitely deserves the spotlight since it features an elbow sleeve that is a bit longer. The fact that it goes over the elbow is a safe choice for those of you who feel self-conscious of your arms, and specifically the section closer to the elbow that can be bulky depending on your size.
This sleeve follows a straight line, but it’s not tight since the fabric is stretchy enough to create the perfect fit.
The babydoll silhouette of this tunic can look flattering on most body types. If you’re top-heavy with flat hips it can add volume to your bottom. Then again if your hips are wider than your top section this tunic can also soften your proportions.
This Auslook elbow sleeve top can easily be paired with leggings or even a pair of fitted jeans because it covers your bum and reaches your leg mid-thigh.
If you’re not sure what size to go with the company offers a detailed plus size chart, which I truly recommend you follow before making the purchase.
Make sure to also take a look at all the beautiful floral patterns this tunic comes in, read the reviews by some happy plus-size ladies, and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: The slimmed midsection helps create a more hourglass figure without crushing your ribs in.
What I Wish It Had: I would love to see more length options from this top since it can be too long for those of us who are on the shorter side.
2. Runner Up: Uxcell Women’s Plus Size Peplum Top
- Available in sizes up to 4XL.
- Comes in 7 different colors to suit your personal unique style.
- The design will highlight your curves and still look sophisticated.
- The scuba-like material prevents the top from becoming see-through even when it stretches.
- The price is budget-friendly.
For my first pick, I went with a sleeve that’s a bit longer, but I don’t want to keep playing safe, so for my second choice, I went with an elbow sleeve that is a bit shorter instead. While it might feel like a risk to some of you, I purposefully went with a flared sleeve so you can rely on the extra space and flowiness it offers, if you’re unsure about your arms showing.
This is also a very different design, and the Uxcell brand has really put a lot of thought into achieving an elegant look that can be dressed up or down, depending on your plans.
You might think that the twisted knot at the front will draw attention to your belly, but it actually helps create a beautiful waistline. More importantly, the flared bottom of the shirt will take on the job of covering your belly without accentuating it.
I personally adore this knot because it can work for so many body types, especially because it creates a soft waistline, and it can give your bust a nice shape, whether it’s smaller or bigger without a daring neckline.
Some of the reviewers have mentioned that they’re rocking a pear shape figure and the top definitely compliments it!
If you want to see the color options this Uxcell top offers, read more of these reviews, and see today’s price on Amazon you can click here.
What I Love About It: The fact that there are no zippers means that you can quickly pull this top over and go about your day with no extra fuzz or outside help!
What I Wish It Had: Unlike the number 1 pick on this list, this top might run a bit short if you’re tall.
3. Best Casual Wear: VISLILY Plus-Size V-Neck Tee
- Available in sizes up to 4XL.
- Comes in multiple colors and combinations that can look beautiful on any skin tone.
- Easy on the budget.
Everyone needs a basic summer tee in their wardrobe and Vislily offers a multitude of options specifically with an elbow sleeve. This one actually sits closer to the elbow with a wide cuff for extra comfort.
According to the brand, these t-shirts run true to size. While many plus-size shirts end up big and shapeless this actually fits perfectly, without making your stomach big or your bust tight.
I usually wear this Vislily shirt when I’m on the move around town doing errands. Though I must admit that the soft fabric persuaded me to get a few of these tees to wear around the house.
Overall it’s a simple design, but the baseball-inspired sleeves give it a lovely dimension, plus if you have wide shoulders this sleeve pattern can help visually reduce the bulk.
I also get very frustrated when plus-size brands have tops that are too short. One wrong move and I know that my belly will be exposed and the last thing I want during the summer is wearing an additional tank top beneath. Thankfully, this top hits me past the top of my thigh, which I’m happy about, and for my taller ladies out there this is the perfect elbow sleeve t-shirt.
You can learn more about this Vislily elbow sleeve top, read more reviews, as well as check out today’s price on Amazon with just one click here!
What I Love About it: The neckline has a unique style that elongates the neck, but it also isn’t over the top.
What I Wish It Had: While the Vislily brand offers more options on their amazon page, the availability of their shirts isn’t always reliable.
4. Best For Work: Woman Within Button-Down Shirt
- Available in sizes up to 7XL.
- Comes in 3 monochromatic colors and 3 patterns, all of which are work-appropriate.
- The shirttail hem is 30 inches long, which provides you with greater mobility.
- Budget-friendly price for a shirt.
I can’t help but love button-down shirts with elbow sleeves especially during the warmer months. Even if I’m wearing them in the office I can’t help but feel like I’ve been transported onto a golden beach, walking among palm trees.
They are so breezy and easy to combine with any kind of pants, leggings, and a long skirt.
When I’m at work I usually go for the monochromatic white or black elbow sleeve shirt, with some denim jeans or office pants. But I’ve also received numerous compliments on the days I’ve decided to change things up and wear this shirt but in a brighter pink or a pattern.
This might sound silly to some, but living in a larger body makes you think about colors in a different way. Sometimes you just want to go around the office or down the street without people noticing you, and other days you want to reclaim that space with the boldest of colors.
While I’m quite short I still like the length of this shirt since it covers my stomach and back. A feature that in a work setting makes bending and moving more comfortable and carefree.
You can take a look at the delicate patterns and colors this shirt is available in, as well as today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
What I Love About It: The material is light and soft, which makes it the perfect summer work shirt!
What I Wish It Had: Some of the reviews pointed out that it can shrink after washing.
5. Best For Working Out: Foreyond Women’s Plus Size Mesh Workout Sport Tee
- This shirt is available up to 5XL plus.
- There are 7 different monochromatic colors to choose from, that you can pair with the workout pants you already have.
- If you want the same shirt for the winter time it's also available with long sleeves.
- The price is very affordable.
Whether you’re a personal trainer, just trying to find ways to be more flexible, or simply enjoy wearing sportswear the Foreyond 3/4 sleeve shirt is a great choice especially during the warmer months.
If you click on the picture you can get a better look at the sleeve which covers the elbow. As the brand explains this helps protect the elbow during the exercise.
I find this very thoughtful, and most importantly helpful when you’re doing floor work that requires some elbow action.
So, no wonder this workout shirt made it on my list!
But aside from the sleeve length, what I also find amazing is the details of this whole design. Let me start with the mesh back that makes this top a hundred times more breathable than a regular tee.
This is great during any workout, but with the extra weight that I have to work with, overheating and sweating can get too much during the summer.
The fitting is loose, but it doesn’t look baggy, and this is really crucial when you want to work out especially in a gym setting. A nice workout shirt and leggings can help those of us with a full figure feel more confident and motivated.
I mean who doesn’t want to look cute especially when you’re sweating?
If you want to read more reviews, get more familiar with Foreyond as a brand, as well as look at today’s price on Amazon you can check it here!
What I Love About It: Since it’s not too long or too short it offers great coverage, even when you’re making risky moves during stretching.
What I Wished It Had: While the fabric is stretchy, some of the customers mentioned that they run small, so you might want to order a larger size.
6. Best For Dressing Up: Romwe Plus Size Peplum Wrap Blouse
We’ve finally reached my favorite section on my lists and that’s the one about dressing up!
Romwe offers a gorgeous blouse for a night out if you want to feel sexy and flirty.
I personally love the white option with the red rose print on top, it’s delicate and feminine and looks great with a summer tan.
If you’re wondering what makes this top plus-size approved. Well, let’s start with the sleeves, that offer the perfect elbow length, with a wide and flared hem. This design is great if you have wide shoulders because the way the sleeves taper out will reduce the bulk from the top.
The flare adds a playful movement to the elbow sleeve which is a great opportunity to show off a bit of that sleeve tattoo, for those of you who have one of course!
The neckline is also very flattering. It elongates the neck, and turns your full bust into the star of the show, but without being too much. You can always add a fitted tank top to cover the decolletage and bring it to your own level of modesty.
Since this elbow sleeve shirt wraps at the front it helps create a lovely shape by accentuating your waist, and the peplum bottom can hide your belly and smooth out your hips creating an hourglass figure.
If you want to see all the amazing designs, as well as the long sleeve option, and today’s price on Amazon just click here!
What I Love About It: While this blouse is an outfit for a date or an office party, it’s still super comfortable.
What I Wished It Had: I would love to see an option with a different material other than polyester, like soft linen or cotton.
7. Best Polo Shirt: Woman Within Plus Size Elbow-Sleeve Polo Shirt
- This polo shirt is available up to size 6XL.
- The length of the shirt is 30 inches long and it gives you freedom of movement.
- There are 26 different colors and prints you can choose from.
- This polo shirt is made from a cotton blend which is safe for your skin.
The last shirt on my least couldn’t be any other than this polo shirt. And I’m sure you can sense my excitement about this one, and you most likely get where I’m coming from.
Polo shirts can easily be a miss if you’re wearing plus-size clothes, but this one is definitely a hit.
The sleeves are not too tight, and they have a normal fit around the elbow, which is perfect if you don’t want anything shorter than that.
Since this polo is also longer, it slims down the figure instead of making your belly area look wider. This makes it a great buy for taller women and top-heavy ladies that want to avoid looking like a square.
The four-button neckline has a spread collar that gives you the opportunity to show more skin when it’s too hot. It visually makes your neck appear longer and breaks the straight shape a bit.
It’s worth mentioning that the length on someone shorter will most likely end at the mid-thigh, while if you’re taller on the upper thigh.
With this polo shirt, you can easily wear a pair of denim pants, or cargo capris if you don’t feel comfortable with shorts. I personally love pairing this elbow sleeve polo shirt with a pair of comfy leggings and I go about my day feeling like I’m on top of the world.
If you were looking for the perfect polo shirt, click here to check out the 785+ reviews and today’s price on Amazon!
What I Love About It: I’m really happy that this polo shirt is made of a cotton fabric which is better for the skin, especially during summer. Plus it doesn’t stretch or tent!
What I Wished It Had: Many of the shirts for plus-size women are either too long or too short. While I love that this offers a long design, I’d love to see shorter versions of the same polo shirt.
How To Style Elbow Sleeve Tops When You’re Plus-Size?
Now that we went through every elbow sleeve top on my list I think the perfect way to end this article is with a few tips on how you could style them.
I think these tops are great on their own and you can simply wear one and look cute with no additional items, but I love to add a bit of pizazz, now and again if it suits the occasion of course.
First I think you need to consider the kind of pants or skirt that will look great with your elbow sleeve shirt.
If you’re short like me might want to go for a light bootcut or straight-leg trousers to elongate your leg. The shorter sleeve will add less bulk to your top half and create a more balanced shape.
As I’ve already mentioned my number one Auslook elbow sleeve top will look great with a pair of leggings or denim pants. A straight line will look most flattering and a pair of heels can easily turn this top into a night-out ensemble.
If you have a more narrow waist compared to your bottom and top, the working shirt could look amazing if you tuck it into a circle skirt.
Depending on your shape you might consider pairing your new top with a belt, and together with the elbow sleeve, you can accentuate your waist instead of your hips, if that’s an area you want to keep on the low.
Chunky jewelry can be great if you want more volume on top, or instead, you can go for dainty neckless dangly earrings instead.
For example, the deep decolletage of the Allegrace tunic in the dressing up section would look great with a chunky necklace, or a long pendant.
I also think that all the elbow sleeve tops I chose can give you a great opportunity to wear your favorite bracelets, or watch, and show them off.
Depending on the type of sleeve you choose, you can set a whole aesthetic along with certain jewelry. Something with more flow like a caftan can give you a romantic look, while straight and strict sleeves paired with similar straight-line pants may look more professional instead.
Elbow sleeves are truly a playful feature to which you could add different jewelry, a cashmere scarf, or wear it as it is.
No matter what elbow sleeve top you choose in the end, I want you to remember that all sleeve lengths deserve your attention, and elbow sleeves shouldn’t be the exception.
Fashion and clothes can be fun, versatile, and most importantly for all bodies to enjoy!
So, my last ingredient as always is confidence!
Of course, you can work on perfecting your proportions, showing more or less of your skin, but what you need to remember is that you’re the one wearing these clothes, not the other way around.
You’re the star, and stars are big and beautiful, so don’t forget to live life big!