Monday, 26 January 2015

Now, really...

One of the RTW Fasters posted an article from the Wall Street Journal titled "How Dresses Lost Their Sleeves" which I found quite intriguing. Mama R has been complaining for years now that it is impossible to find a decent dress with sleeves in the retail landscape. And I have to agree with her.

Long sleeved dress for Mama R
In the article, designers admit that dresses with sleeves are a highly sought after commodity with customers and fashion buyers.   

Vogue 8939

So what's up with this sleeveless mystery?

Vogue 1410

The article argues that 
[s]leeve peeves may be rising in part because it is so tricky to make a flattering sleeve that is roomy enough to offer a full range of motion.
Now, really... no one is that naive that they would buy that line. Are they? If a designer actually believes that it is so tricky to make a flattering sleeve that is roomy enough to move in, maybe they need to go back to design school or look to Rhonda's Creative Life for some inspiration and guidance. Rhonda can made sense of the trickiest sleeve designs.

And besides sleeves can be cut on the bias to give more stretch. There is mention of gussets used in the construction of sleeves in the article. But it is quickly dismissed as "expensive."

Vogue 1043
Interestingly, the apparent disappearance of sleeves happened to coincide with the appearance and rise of fast fashion. 

And there, I believe, is the answer to the sleeveless mystery. It is just "too expensive," or should I say, it will eat into their profits to incorporate sleeves into a dress design. In the Fifth Estate documentary "Made in Bangladesh" designer Sujeet Sennik outlined how the goal is to get clothes produced cheaper and cheaper. Sennik recalls his time designing shirts with five buttons and being asked if he could reduce that to three buttons. Is it much of a stretch to believe that the motivation behind the sleeveless dress mystery is the same?

Mama R hasn't purchased a ready-to-wear dress for years. I have been making her dresses because that is the only way that she can wear a dress with sleeves. She's much more comfortable wearing her dresses with sleeves. And there has been no "tricky business" going on while making any dresses with sleeves. 

Just another reason why I sew.

Happy Sewing!  


  1. I've noticed the disappearance of sleeves as well! I am about to try sewing my first ever sleeve within the next couple of weeks. I need to make more modest, warm clothes for my overly air conditioned workplace.

  2. Interesting post. I don't tend to buy dresses, so it's not something I've really noticed myself, but I think your reasoning makes sense. I'm going to watch that documentary later on today, thanks for the link.


McCall's 7630: Pullover Top

It's an easy sewing project for a loose-fitting pullover top. It's my second go with this pattern and I still want to make another ...