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10 Stylish Coats and Jackets for Women with Big Arms

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Fashion designers aren’t always great at delivering clothes that fit any body. Case in point: Women who have big arms — disproportionately larger than the rest of their body — can’t wear a traditional coat without feeling like they’re going to pop the arm seams like the Incredible Hulk. Most coats and jackets have a fitted arm, which forces the larger-armed lady to buy way too big or try to stay warm in ponchos and scarves. Not great options, for sure.

So, what are the best coats for women with big arms? Here are your options:

  1. The dolman sleeve. Dolman sleeves are more common in tops than in coats and jackets, but you can find them. Typically, the style will be described as “slouchy.” This will be a more casual look than your standard jacket with fitted arms.
  2. The kimono. Any kimono-style coat or jacket will have a fuller arm. In very cold climates, you’ll have to layer under your kimono jacket. Those open arm holes let a lot of cold air in if you’re not wearing a base layer underneath.
  3. Try styles with stretch. A stretchy construction gives you a little extra room for those arms.
  4. Buy up a size and tailor. Find a coat that fits your big arms and then have it tailored to suit the rest of you. This is an option when you can invest in a high-quality piece that will last you for years.

10 coats for women with big arms

Tailoring will give you the best end result in terms of fit, but it’s also the most expensive. If you’d rather experiment with some looser, slouchier styles, here are 10 picks you might love. These are my 10 favorite coats for women with big arms!

1. Dolman jacket from Free People

Free People’s dolman jacket is a casual cross between a denim jacket and a puffer. You won’t wear it to the office, but it will keep you warm on your days off. Because it’s on the bulky side, pair it with a fitted bottom. And, you can wear it over jeans — just choose denim with a contrasting wash. A dark wash skinny would be my choice.

2. Slouchy trench from ASOS DESIGN

If you don’t have a trench coat in your closet that fits, this might be the coat for you. The relaxed fit gives it a freewheeling vibe, but you can still belt that waist when you want to take a more serious approach. The sleeves are full, and that means no stuffing or squeezing of your shapely arms. Pair this trench with jeans on the weekends, over a dress for dinner out, or atop your pant suit when you head back to the office.

3. Denim bomber jacket from BDG Urban Outfitters

The BDG Urban Outfitters denim bomber is a streamlined version of the Free People dolman jacket above. It has less bulk and a shorter hemline, which makes for a tidier, more versatile piece. Slouchy sleeves leave plenty of room for those arms and the soft, washed denim ensures comfort all day long.

4. Birdie blazer from Free People

Add a touch of chic to your wardrobe with this wide-sleeved blazer. It’s not going to shield you from snow and ice, but you can layer it over a stretchy, long-sleeved, thermal top to balance warmth and style. The sleeves are such a style statement on their own that no one will realize they have a practical purpose too. It’s also available in a beautiful rust.

5. Wool kimono coat from Helene Berman

The collarless neckline and oversized buttons give this coat a very smart feel. Full, cropped sleeves along with a dropped shoulder make for a forgiving fit, too.

6. La Vida kimono

This festival-inspired, silk and feather kimono can make a statement any time of year. Try it over a bikini for a pool party or with a long-sleeved top, denim, and ankle boots when it’s cold outside. It’s pretty lightweight, so you’ll have to layer up in the dead of winter — but when this kimono is your top layer, it will be a conversation-starter. It’s also heavily discounted right now. The downside? It’s dry clean only.

7. Slouchy cable knit

When a coat won’t fit right, a slouchy cable knit is a decent and forgiving stand-in. This one is an open-front cardigan style and comes in 10 different colors.

8. Batwing cardi

The longline cardigan is one of my favorite silhouettes, mostly because it’s as cozy as a plush robe but also stylish at the same time. This one features a batwing sleeve, perfect for the large-armed lady. Team it with jeans or a sheath dress and tights.

9. Oversized shearling coat

The teddy coat isn’t trending as hard as it was last year, but who cares? Shearling and fleece make a dreamy combo on cold days, and the oversized silhouette definitely creates a comfortable space for your arms. This piece seems like a steal at $32, but the reviews indicate that the quality can be inconsistent.  

10. Fleece hooded cardigan

Here’s another relaxed fleece piece with a dolman sleeve. What I like about his one is the stretchy, but fitted cuffs that keep the cold air out. Choose from 10 colors, including fall classics like dark green and navy.

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Jasmine

Wednesday 18th of May 2016

nice

teresa

Sunday 14th of December 2014

i too have bit upper arms. i am also big everywhere else but its funny that my old coats still fit my arms and i can still get them on yet i cant get the new ones on

sue

Thursday 22nd of October 2015

i agree with you. The latest fashions out there are being cut smaller and smaller. I always thought it had something to do with the Asian or Indonesian versions of sizing. Those folks tend to be slight and willowy, where we Americans are much heavier and stockier. I have Chaus and Jones New York clothing (coats and jackets) that are 20 yrs old and still fit in a size 2X. Today I just tried on a 4X in a London Fog and it was slightly tight in the waist and the arms. What gives? It doesnt matter how much you spend either.

Rosie

Friday 3rd of August 2007

For me, the wide sleeves make me look wide all over due to a large bust. I think this is also due to the fact that these garments tend to be cut widely in the bodice. I really like your suggestion about getting them tailored, as well as the belt suggestion. You are right - if they had added a belt to the picture above it would have made a huge difference!

Raya

Thursday 2nd of August 2007

I agree, wide arms on jacket, sometimes wide legs on pants only make you look bigger.  I just wish there was clothes for normal women out there…I have the hardest time….if they are plus size the armholes are huge, i’m bigger but I’m not so big that I need huge arm holes…

TBF

Thursday 2nd of August 2007

budget babe.. it really depends on your personal preference.. i think buying a bigger size and tailoring it to be the better option, but some people do not like th idea of buying a bigger size…

The larger sleeves can work out great, especially if you define your waist with a belt (i wish they would have put a belt on the model in the picture above..)

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