By Erin Fust

Illustrated by Jessica Alyea

Derby time is the best time to strut your stuff in a new dress — ideally, one that shows off your best assets and downplays any areas you’re not so confident about. One common ‘trouble zone’ among women is upper arms. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind while shopping if you struggle with dressing your upper body with confidence.

Hat by The Hat Girls, $250 ; Jacket available at Boutique Serendipity, $168; Dress available at Modern Elegance, $135;
Necklace available at Liv Boutique, $48. Photo by Melissa Donald


  • First and foremost in fashion, you must choose the correct size. This is key to dealing with any trouble area. Every designer and clothing producer has a different pattern, so even if you know you are a true size “X,” you may need to size up or even size down. Never allow the size to dictate how you feel about an outfit — it’s all about the fit.
  • Choose a longer sleeve that hits at the elbow or a bit below. Choosing a sleeve that hits at the widest part of your arm will make it look even larger.
  • With sleeveless pieces, drape a scarf or wrap over your shoulders for an extra layer that can both conceal and add comfort. A cropped, structured jacket is a great piece to wear on cooler Derby days as well.
  • Choose a thicker strap and a v-neck. Remove focus from your arms by showing off a beautiful décolletage. 
  • Add a statement necklace or choose a dress with a decorative top.
Counter clockwise: Ted Baker white beaded dress, Jessica Howard dress, Jax plus size sheath dress, Donna Ricco flower print dress, ING plus size dress.