Short Arms. Who Knew?

I remember reading about Michael Phelps when he won his first set of Olympic medals. The article talked about how, when he was growing up, his arms were very long and the kids at school teased him. Funny about him having very long arms because nice long, powerful, arms made for a great swimmer and swimming became his salvation.

In elementary school my uniform sweater came down over the knuckle on my thumb as did the uniform blazer I wore in high school. In elementary school I would roll up the sweater into a cuff. In high school, when I first tried on my new uniform blazer and saw that the sleeves came to the middle of my thumb, I asked Mom about hemming the sleeve.  She looked me in the eye and said in a huffy tone that it was because I was fat (size 14) and if I lost weight my clothes would fit properly.  What I heard was that I was to leave the sleeves alone.  Arguing with my mother never made for a good day.

That is how it was for years.  If something had long sleeves, well, it came down to my mid- thumbs.  I looked for blouses with button cuffs so they would stay along my wrist.  When I sewed something, I shortened the sleeve length in the pattern.  Yet it never dawned on me to question the point that my store purchased clothes did not fit properly because I was not skinny.

Fast forward 15 years or so past high school. I am trying on a blazer in Nordstrom. The sleeves are too long. I say to the clerk that I need to lose weight, so the sleeves fit properly. She has me hold my arms to my side. She checks the shoulder seams, the chest, the back length and says “No, the blazer is the right size for you, but your arms are a good 2 inches shorter than normal.”

What? Seriously? I have shorter than normal arms? Hmmmmm, I wonder how I was supposed to know that? Well, it does explain some of the challenges I had in ballet class but that is a different story. The same Nordstrom clerk also mentioned that I had “proportionally larger breasts” and often big boobs and shorter arms go together.  I guess there is only so much body material to work with and it either goes to boobs or arms, but not both.

All those years I should have been shortening the sleeves on my jackets the way men have their trousers hemmed, but, well, I guess I did not give it as much thought as I could have given it. For men it is assumed that they have a range of inseams and quality trousers come unhemmed so that they will be hemmed to break at the correct point over the shoes. I did not feel so bad now.  It was not my chest, or shoulders, or height – it was short arms.  Well, that worked for me.  Once home I started taking items out of my closet and heading to the sewing machine. 

Funny thing though is that now I began to notice sleeves reaching down to the thumb in magazine photos and on TV.  There was an award show – Grammys or Oscars – a few years ago and a woman had on a gorgeous white pant suit.  She noted the well-known designer and my first thought was that the stylist that arranged for her to wear the outfit needed to take a few minutes to tack up those sleeves dangling down to the middle of her thumb.  On the other hand, if no one thought to fix the outfit by a famous designer that would be shown on the red carpet in front of millions, I guess it was not such a big deal that I had sleeves dangling onto my thumbs for so many years.

What doesn’t fit you correctly? Do tell!

Every Day Is A Good Day.  VJ


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