Picture this: you've got a tank or sleeveless dress that is begging to be worn...and you can't quite bring yourself to wear it as-is. There are many reasons why you might not want to go sleeveless this summer. Maybe the weather in your neck of the woods really isn't all that summery (side eye at Texas...), maybe you just don't like to bare your shoulders, maybe the occasion calls for more modesty, maybe you got a bad sunburn or other injury you want to conceal...my personal reasons are religious but I realize that doesn't necessarily apply to everyone so here is a quick little styling guide on how to transform that sleeveless stunner into one with a little more coverage.
Between the pictures of me awkwardly walking away on train tracks are the 5 key things to consider when styling sleeveless to go sleeve-ful (? lol)
|similar dress/similar blouse/similar shoes|
I ranked the categories in what I consider, order of importance. Let's dive in...
This is honestly a personal preference...I think in a majority of cases you can't really go wrong with layering something over your main item. It just tends to look better in most cases, simply because there are so many choices ...cardigans, blazers, jackets, boleros, button down shirts, shawls, you get the picture. Layering under can prove to be a little trickier, but can be very cute when done correctly. The key I think is to consider the other factors when making your decision.
*as a general rule I don't recommend putting plain t-shirts under things, it harks back to the early 2000's styles for me and most sleeveless things deserve something a little nicer to elevate the style when adding coverage*
Consider the following when thinking of how to alter your dress or tank or whatever sleeveless item...
Some consider a cap-sleeve to be sleeveless, there are flutter sleeve/pinafore type sleeveless, there are spaghetti straps all the way to muscle-tank type straps.
Next, the shape and length of the item. Is the dress flared? Fitted? Loose? Does it have buttons or a tie waist? Where is the waist? How long is the dress? These are all things to take into account because that will determine what type of coverage to add. For instance, I wouldn't put a blouse under a cap sleeve or thicker tank sleeve; too much bulk and similarity in cut of the sleeves.
With the cherry dress, it has an adorable bustier top, and a nipped in waist with a tie back that leads to a flared skirt. I didn't want to interfere with or hide those features with either way I styled it. I could have just as easily paired it with a cropped jean jacket or biker jacket if I wanted to add a bit of an edge to the outfit, but I chose to go with "period" appropriate layering pieces. The cherry print dress is very retro, 40s-50s, and so I chose a vintage velvet bolero in a coordinating green hue below, and a vintage reproduction silky blouse to go under the dress above.
|similar bolero (this is a one-of-a-kind vintage item)|
I'm going to lump together color and print between the two sleeveless dresses I chose to feature. Colors of items should coordinate (they don't necessarily have to match). Beyond pulling inspiration from the existing colors of the main item it is usually safe to pair neutrals as your layering pieces, while considering the tones of the sleeveless item: cool tones will look better with navy and grey pairing items, warm tones with browns and tans, white and black tend to go with nearly everything.
If the print is already loud on your main item, try to tone down the print you mix it with, small prints very neutral colors like tiny polka dots, or stripes, or keep it solid. And vice versa, if your main item is solid or subtly printed, go a little bolder with your color or print.
I had two pretty bold prints and color palettes to start with. Hence me sticking to solid colored items...
|similar dress/espadrille wedges/similar shawl|
The last thing to consider is the style you're going for. Like I mentioned earlier, the cherry dress could have been paired with so many options, but I chose to go full retro, because that was my mood that day. The second dress is much more casual and bohemian. Which is why I went a little more boho casual with the styling. I'm all for mixing styles however, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with pairing ultra-sweet feminine dresses with tough leather jackets, or super structured dresses with flowy cardigans.
The last styling tip I have is if you like a dress, but maybe not necessarily the top of the dress...or if you want to expand your wardrobe in ways you didn't think possible, look below. You can pull a closed or buttoning top over the top of the dress to disguise the top of the dress completely and make it look like a top and skirt. Bada-boom new outfit! I recommend putting a belt with it too, to add structure to the whole thing and accentuate the waistline.
|olive green blouse/similar belt|