See also Arm Wear Footwear Neckwear

Copyright © 1998 - 2001 (David B. Givens/Center for Nonverbal Studies)

Photo detail of Bette Davis in Bad Sister (originally The Flirt [Universal 1924]; copyright Kobal Collection, London)



The fit of a sleeve defines the way you bend over and reach. --Véronique Vienne (1997:160)

Fashion statement. 1. Clothing worn a. to cover, and b. to modify the color, thickness, length, shape, and texture of the arms. 2. Ornaments (e.g., bracelets and wristbands) worn a. to attract notice, and b. to accent the arm's masculine or feminine traits.

Usage: What we place upon our arms accents their thickness or taper. Flannel shirts, e.g., add bulk, while short sleeves reveal the slimness and accent the length of thin arms. Watches and starched shirt cuffs add visibility and authority to hand gestures delivered above a conference table.

Corporate Skin. Deprived of primate fur, the exposed human arm is visibly vulnerable. Thus, it is not surprising that men and women keep their arms covered (just as they keep from baring their throats [see NECK WEAR]) in the corporate realm.


Power arms. Shirt sleeves covered by the thicker sleeves of a Brooks Brothers®suit, e.g., exaggerate the authority of masculine biceps and forearms. With its slimmer sleeves, the Chanel® suit boosts power, yet bows to femininity as elegantly today as it did in the 1930s.

Media. In the 1960s, after Jacqueline Kennedy appeared on the cover of Life magazine in a safari jacket, women's corporate wear turned toward visually thicker, and more competitive, feminine arms.

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