Make Over Your Arms—No Exercise Required!

Stripped of the cover of that winter parka, you may be self-conscious about your limbs—and alas, not everyone is blessed with Michelle Obama arms. Sure, you can launch into a crash course of biceps curls and triceps dips to get your guns in shape, but since I’m a style expert, not a trainer, let me tell you how to make your arms look fabulous—without lifting a single weight.

Hide Bat Wing Upper ARms

Problem #1: Bat Wings

If you carry weight in your upper arms, the sleeves of many garments can be too narrow. In general, look for tops made of lightweight knits, like a spandex blend, that have a little stretch. Then look for styles that float away from your arms (like a kimono sleeve, dolman sleeve top or tunic) and end near your elbow or wrist, the narrowest spots for most women. Style&co. Sport Plus Size Dolman-Sleeve Printed Yoga Tee, $40; macys.com.

Fix Short Sleeves for Large Arms

Problem #2: Too-Tight Sleeves

Your arms aren’t too big—the top’s too small! You may have to go the next size up to accommodate your arms, but tailor the body of the garment if it’s then too big for your torso. With a short sleeve, you might be able to tailor the sleeve itself: Have the tailor cut a banded sleeve to add either a button and loop closure to the outside or a bit of hidden elastic to the inside. Short Sleeved Soft Shirt, $60; mango.com

Get Sleeve Length Right

Problem #3: Too-Long or Too-Short Sleeves

When long sleeves hit at the wrong spot, they can make you look like an overgrown kid or just plain unkempt. There are three general spots that long sleeves should hit to be flattering: Standard length (covering the wrist, but not the hand), bracelet length (an inch or so above the wrist, to show off your jewelry), or three-quarter length (two to three inches below your elbow). If your sleeves are too long, have a tailor bring them up. If they’re too short, you might have a little wiggle room to lengthen them, otherwise have them shortened to three-quarter or bracelet length so it looks like they were made that way. Kelly by Clinton Kelly Roll Tab Long Sleeve Blouse in Cobalt, $54; qvc.com.

Make Skinny Arms Look better

Problem #4: Scrawny Arms

Most women with skinny arms aren’t complaining—but if you’ve got little limbs swimming inside too-big clothes, you just look scrawny. Hit the tailor: There’s usually a seam that runs down the inside length of the arm, and that can be taken in to better fit your body. And look for sleeves that add a little volume to the area, like a butterfly sleeve or bishop sleeve. Square Neck Tie Blouse in Ink Blue, $50; Express.

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