Looking fabulous with broad shoulders or big arms is much easier than you think. You don’t even have to spend a lot of money to look amazing.
You can easily dress well and feel good with these simple dressing hacks. They will make your broad shoulders and big arms appear a bit smaller, elongate your figure, emphasize your waist, and help balance your body shape. So many women ignore this helpful advice and miss out on easy techniques to improve their style. To effortlessly look your best, use these fantastic fashion tips for women with broad shoulders. Panaprium is proud to be 100% independent, free of any influence, and not sponsored. We carefully handpick products from brands we trust. Thank you so much for buying something through our link, as we may earn a commission that supports us.
1. Wear long-sleeved dresses
The best dresses help you look good and reduce the size of your broad shoulders and arms. Wear long-sleeved gowns that are stylish, comfortable, cheap, and eco-friendly. Check out our selection of the best affordable and sustainable dresses for broad shoulders made under high standards.
2. Invest in comfy cardigans
Buy affordable and sustainable cardigan sweaters for broad shoulders. Choose casual knitwear like long, comfy, eco-friendly cardigans for a well-balanced outfit. The best cardigan sweaters make your broad shoulders and arms appear a bit smaller. They are stylish, comfortable, cheap, and ethically made from organic materials. Check out our selection of the best affordable, ethical, and sustainable sweaters for broad shoulders made under high social and environmental standards.
3. Choose long, lightweight jackets
You can wear a long, lightweight jacket that falls below your hips to look more stylish and elegant instantly. Make sure to check the quality before buying. It’s easy to look fabulous if you wear high-quality clothes. Discover our selection of the best jackets for broad shoulders made from sustainable and high-quality materials. They help you dress stylishly with a clean conscience and without breaking the bank.
4. Buy a warm winter coat
Enjoy the winter by putting together a warm, cozy, and stylish outfit with a long coat that minimizes your broad shoulders. Choose versatile, comfortable, and durable pieces made from eco-conscious fabrics. Check out our selection of the best affordable and eco-friendly winter coats to stay comfy and dry this cold season.
5. Avoid shoulder pads
A blazer can help you stand out and look professional but choose tops without any shoulder pads. Otherwise, they will accentuate your broad shoulders and look disproportionate. A dark jacket or blazer can improve your outfit by adding a traditional, dressy, and classy touch. But make sure that it doesn’t have any structured shoulders for a better look. Here is our selection of sustainable blazers.
6. Wear a long turtleneck
You can pair a long skirt with a turtleneck to look fabulous with broad shoulders in cold weather. This outfit idea is perfect for dressing stylishly and achieving a cute and feminine look. The best turtlenecks are cheap, comfy, and ethically made from eco-friendly and cruelty-free fabrics. Buy fashionable knitwear from sustainable brands that support responsible production practices.
7. Avoid strapless dresses
It’s best to avoid wearing strapless dresses and tops that accentuate your broad shoulders. While showing off your shoulder is a good thing, make sure you do it in style. Strapless dresses make your upper body appear larger than it is. Stay away from any piece that should make your figure less elegant and harmonious.
8. Don’t wear structured shoulders
It’s easy to dress well and look better by making your broad shoulders appear a bit smaller. Choose more durable and high-quality pieces that look elegant and last longer without any structured shoulders. Pay attention to details and garment construction the next time you go shopping. Buy quality and affordable options without shoulder pads for a more balanced look.
9. Wear dress shirts
Buy high-quality dress shirts or button-up shirts with a collar to complete your outfits and look better with broad shoulders. Premium shirts help you dress well with a conservative style, clean lines, and breathable fabrics. Well-fitting, tailored dress shirts are a crucial part of the classic and modern look. You can wear them every day to put together a stylish and professional outfit. Here is a selection of affordable and sustainable hemp shirts that will help you dress well with broad shoulders, look your best, and stand out with a clean conscience.
10. Avoid off-the-shoulder tops
You don’t want to show off your broad shoulders in off-the-shoulder tops or dresses. You can make every outfit you wear a winner by simply choosing the best pieces that go well together with your body shape. Off-the-shoulder tops emphasize your shoulders and make them look bigger. Improve your dressing sense and enhance your overall look by avoiding these designs that suit you less.
11. Don’t wear round-neck dresses
Only put on clothes that make you look fantastic and flatter your figure. Avoid wearing round-neck dresses that free your broad shoulders and accent their size. It’s best to keep only clothes that fit you perfectly and complement the best outfits for your body shape. Make room in your closet for better items.
12. Put on V-neck tops
You can create an effortless outfit that celebrates the feminine figure with the most beautiful V-neck tops and dresses. They offer women with broad shoulders the perfect look for their body shape. V-neck tops will create a sense of balance in your outfits and minimize your larger upper body. Choose classic, timeless pieces that last beyond the season and scream modernity and sustainability.
13. Invest in deep-V dresses
Wear deep-V dresses to balance your upper body shape, emphasize your bust and waist, elongate your figure, and draw attention away from your broad shoulders or big arms. Deep-V dresses are ideal for putting together feminine, effortless, and elegant outfits that are also fashionable and comfortable. Choose beautiful, stylish, and versatile gowns with the best fit in mind. 14. Avoid tube tops Don’t put on tube tops that strengthen your broad shoulders or big arms. It’s best to avoid any tops that accent your upper body and triangle shape. Make sure to choose quality garments that are more fashionable and comfortable and show that you care about what you put on your body.
15. Wear scoop neck blouses
Scoop neck blouses, shirts, tees, and tops make your broad shoulders and arms appear a bit smaller. Choose functional, timeless, versatile, and classic silhouettes that make dressing well and sustainably easy. Check out our selection of the best affordable, ethical, and sustainable blouses for broad shoulders made under high social and environmental standards.
16. Stay away from puffy sleeves
Stay away from puffy sleeves that accentuate your broad shoulders and big arms. In general, you want to avoid any tops that would draw attention to your larger upper body. Instead, choose long-sleeved garments that are stylish, comfortable, cheap, eco-friendly, and last a long time. They minimize your broad shoulders and arms.
17. Avoid detailing at the shoulders
It’s best to forget any detailing at the shoulders and arms if you want your broad shoulders to appear a bit smaller. Make the pieces your wear don’t draw attention to your shoulders. Avoid any tops that would emphasize your broad shoulders. Choose instead better options that balance your shape and elongate your figure.
18. Prefer wide straps
When going for tops or dresses with straps, choose wide straps over tiny ones. Spaghetti and small straps don’t help you minimize your broad shoulders. On the other hand, wide straps make your broad shoulders appear a bit smaller. Wear tops and dresses with wide straps to balance your upper body in style.
19. Don’t forget your wedding dress
The best wedding dresses for broad shoulders or big arms are comfortable, fashionable, affordable, and sustainable to make you feel good and look your best on your most special day. Choose stylish and timeless bridal pieces ethically made with simple cuts, clean shapes, and classic silhouettes that emphasize your bust and waist, elongate your figure and help balance your body shape. Check out our selection of the best wedding dresses for brides with broad shoulders made under high standards.
20. Be creative
Don’t hesitate to be a little creative with your outfits and push yourself out of your comfort zone. There are so many different fashion styles to try out that are also appropriate for broad shoulders. Use your creativity and express yourself to find a style all about you, showing your personality and showcasing your best features through originality, confidence, and uniqueness. You can boost your self-confidence and dress better with broad shoulders or big arms by trying something new from time to time, staying positive, and improving your style by trial and error. Was this article helpful to you? Please tell us what you liked or didn’t like in the comments below.
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.
We’ve all got parts of our bodies that we struggle to dress. Sometimes it’s bigger hips, thick calves, a large or small bust but today we’re talking broad shoulders, particularly how to dress broad shoulders for when you just can’t get an outfit to work.
Despite popular belief, dressing broad shoulders is not always about covering them up. In fact, it’s a common myth that whatever body part you struggle to dress should be hidden away. That couldn’t be further from the truth, you’ve got a fabulous set of shoulders so you should learn how to work with them.
How To Dress Broad Shoulders — Fit Over Everything Else
Our biggest issues with clothing suiting us, more often than not, boils down to fit. When your clothes fit you well, they’ll look good on you and you can wear more shapes without feeling like certain styles of clothing are completely off the table. You should focus on ensuring that you never buy a bad fit in the shoulders, that means anything too tight or too loose in the upper back and upper arms. A shoulder adjustment is an expensive trip to the tailors that can sometimes result in you spending more money on adjustments than the price of the garment when you purchased it. Adopt the rule to fit your shoulders first, then alter the rest if needed. Never the other way around. Second, to the fit of your shoulders, you need to focus on those two other outfit trouble makers — boobs.
Your Bust Fit:
Bras are meant to support you, so it’s important you get a bra fitting, even if you think you know your size. If you haven’t been fitted in the last year, make a trip to a department store and get fitted. When you are wearing the right bra, it is surprising how much more of a waist you’ve got. Stand in front of the mirror with just your bra on and try pulling your bust up by the tops of the cups. If you can pull them up to a natural height and you look like you have a longer torso — it’s time for a new bra.
HOW TO DRESS BROAD SHOULDERS — LAYERING YOUR OUTFITS
An instant outfit enhancer is the use of an extra layer of clothing, but layering should be done with two things in mind — length and fabric density — let me introduce you to my friend’s Structure and Flow.
STRUCTURE VS. FLOW
When dressing, you need to have a balance of structure and flow in your outfits. Structure refers to firm fabrics and garments (think of A-line skirts & tailored trousers) and flow refers to fluid fabrics (think of soft-shouldered jackets, sheer fabrics and silk blouses). When you can add a little of both into your outfit, it will look balanced. Too much structure can make you look blocky and stiff and too much flow can make you look like a blob — so aim to mix the two. You should aim to mix the flowy, soft pieces on the top of your body and the more structured pieces on the bottom half of your body.
HOW TO LAYER YOUR CLOTHING
When you layer your clothing you should be aiming to elongate your legs, so to do this you need to make sure your top layer (ie; jacket or cardigan) ends at a significantly different place to your underneath layer (ie: tee or top). You can do this by wearing a long jacket or coat with a short top underneath, or even your top tucked in. You can wear a long top untucked with a shorter jacket over it and you’ll have the same effect.
THE PENGUIN EFFECT
A great way to flatter your shoulders when layering with skinny jeans or slim pants is to pick darker colours to wear as your very top layer and a lighter colour under that. This will narrow your upper half and stop your legs looking overly thin in comparison to your shoulders.
PRINT & COLOUR
A natural thing for shoppers to do is buy more practical pants than tops. We tend to opt for black or navy pants and go wild in the top department. You need to do the opposite. Go wild when buying pants and try to avoid wearing skin-tight pants in dark colours. Add print, play with shapes and stick to plainer, darker shapes on top so that your legs not only look fabulously long, but your backside and waist become a bit more prominent.
SLEEVE SHAPE IS EVERYTHING
That’s a dramatic statement, I know but who doesn’t love a little DRAMA! When picking tops, you have more sleeve options than most. A dolman sleeve will look gorgeous on you and is perfect for casual days. This sleeve will soften your shoulder line and appear more relaxed. You can also look for tops with slit sleeves, raglan sleeves and summer tops with thick straps. If you’re trying to slim your shoulders; try to avoid sleeves that have a lot of detail on the very top or edge of your shoulder, this will add bulk and can shorten your neck while broadening your shoulders.
KEEP ACCESSORIES LONG
Once you’re up to the accessorising phase, pick longer style accessories. Long scarves and necklaces will lengthen your torso and cross body bags will add shape to your hips. If it’s really cold and you want to wrap your scarf around your neck, do it, but make sure you create a little v shape on your chest with it. This will stop the scarf from swallowing your neck and bring a touch more attention to your beautiful face. How did you go with getting dressed up? Let me know some of your favourite things to wear if you’ve got this shape, in the comments below!
First things first, steer away from pieces that add focus to the shoulder area.
- V-necks, scoop-necks and collarless blouses are great as they divert the attention toward your collarbones and chest area instead.
- Most sleeves look great on the body, for example fitted sleeves, raglans and loose and long dolman sleeves can make shoulders appear smaller.
- Asymmetric cuts and necklines that fall diagonally.
- Tops with wide straps rather than spaghetti straps
- Peplum tops are a great way to add waist definition to your figure as it cinches the waist while the flaring at the bottom balances out your shoulders.
- Throw over a jacket that elongates your figure rather than cropped and boxy jackets, which make your upper body look wide and short.
Avoid wearing anything with puff, cap sleeves or shoulder pads as these will visually broaden rather than minimise your shoulders.
The key to balancing broad shoulders and narrow hips is to generate more volume from the waist down.
Dresses & Skirts:
- Flared, flowy or A-line skirts are great pieces to have in your wardrobe.
- Full skirts help give the appearance of a more even proportion.
- Fit and flare, wrap and sheath dresses are flattering and can be dressed up or down and easily paired with a jacket or coat.
Trousers: wide-leg, bootleg and culottes will balance out the broadness up top.
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