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  • Melissa Jansen

It's All in the Details...Sleeve Details! - Fashion for Unilateral Mastectomy

I was walking by a window display in early March (pre-quarantine) with my best friends when one of them stopped and proclaimed “Look at those sleeves! I just love a beautiful sleeve detail.”

I have to admit, before hearing my friend's profession of love for this year's biggest fashion trend, I disliked big sleeves immensely. Frankly, they remind me of my childhood. I remember the days when my mother and her best friend would drive over 100 miles, in the early hours of the morning, to the “Gunny Sack” outlet so they could buy dresses for me and my sisters. Have I just aged myself or what?

Believe it or not, I was a tom-boy in my early childhood. I had no use for all the fancy lace and broderie anglaise detailing that I was forced into. To make matters worse, I've always hated how hard it is to stuff a big sleeve into a blazer or cardigan....Am I right?

Now, here I was in one of LA's hip fashion malls with my friends and as we went from admiring the beautiful tops in the window, to stepping inside, this one friend lusted over all the dramatic sleeves that filled this store.

I slowly cocked my head to the side and did a silent “huh”.

Suddenly, I doubted every hateful thought I previously had about big sleeves. I scratched my head. I was now being forced into questioning my years of prejudice for this sometimes iconic look. I had to face it head on.

“Could I really have gotten it wrong about the puffy sleeve?” I asked myself repeatedly.

This thought was more dramatic than all the sleeves in the store. And, like anyone who has ever had to change their mind and embrace how wrong they had been, I did a double take and embraced these puffy, flamboyant, detailed sleeves that are actually a uni's best fashion detail friend!

Why-oh-why have I punished myself worrying about how I was going to HIDE this lovely detail instead of using it to my advantage? Yes, I am now CRAZY for a great sleeve detail and it's a good thing, because this trend is not going away any time soon.

It's time to embrace the power of a dramatic sleeve. (You can thank Melly for this one!)

A week after this shopping trip I ended up (like the rest of you) quarantined!

Yes, I was bored as all get-up and started looking at clothing online. Yes, as soon as the nearest thrift store opened I was THERE WAITING FOR MY OPPORTUNITY TO GRAB MYSELF A GOOD SLEEVE!

And, YES! I scored...

The following are my suggestions on why you should try out a good sleeve detail and not worry about what is going to go over the top of it. The truth is, most people are working from home (and will remain so through the winter) so sweaters may be remaining in the back of your closet anyway!


First, I know, you may be saying right now, “Melissa, I can totally tell you only have one breast in this top.”

Fine, you are right! But don't I still look good in it? Wanna know why it works?

Hints of bold color.

I encourage everyone to embrace wearing creams and whites when you are one-breasted. Don't be shy. You can read up on tricks and tips on wearing white here.


This lace sleeve top goes along the same line as the one above, but, the neckline is high and scooped rather than a v-neck. It is a boxy fit rather than fitted, falling strait down my chest. In this type of cut, although it is white, you can't tell that I am one-breasted. Box cut, white t-shirts are a great start to wearing white if you are feeling like it is too revealing or people will notice your chest area. I encourage you to branch out and give it a try.


Stripes used to be such a “nope” for me, but I have figured out that they can be pretty good at tricking the eye. Take this ruffled sleeve, blue and white, pinstripes blouse. It has a great belt detail that wraps around the waist and a great v-neck which makes my chest look totally even, regardless of my missing breast!

The reason this works is that the stripes are going in different directions and the sleeves and belt give it a little “extra.” Paired with bright colored pants and you have a catchy outfit.


Can I just say, this blouse is so over-the-top I can't even believe I was insane enough to buy this thing? And yet, I am IN LOVE. Seriously, I'm a changed woman! Something has been unleashed in me and I don't know how to fix it except wear this dang top every time I go to the grocery store or pop on a zoom call. It's so ridiculously insane.

As the kid of my past once said - “try it, you might like it!” (oh Mikey!)


I have featured this top in another post on ruffles which you can read here. I won't waste your time or mine on explaining why this is such a great piece and remains in my closet....Just trust me, if you don't go to that article : )


This is similar to the white 'box cut” top above. What I really love about this top is the leopard detail has a subtle line down the middle which makes my chest look “even”. I highly encourage you to find any type of animal print top because animal print NEVER goes out of style. I mean NEVER....did I say NEVER?


I will admit I bought this blouse as a joke because, at the time, my daughter was really into Stevie Nicks and I thought this top would make her jealous....

NEWS FLASH, it did! What is really amazing is that I didn't relent and give it to her. And, I'm really glad I didn't!

After buying it I ripped out the shoulder pads (yes, I regret that now) and wore it with abandon....and ended up getting cat-called by a young man in a sporty BMW....Am I ashamed that I enjoyed being cat-called? Hell NO! I'm a one-breasted granny and it was a real boost to my ego...even if it only lasted for a few seconds. But like all good dreams the car drove away, and all I have is this top and the memories...

So, what are you waiting for? Big, bouncy, puffy, outrageous sleeved tops are waiting for you!

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