What's the deal with the Dolmans?

Since Le Duc has sustained a horse-riding injury (doing much better but still ordered flat on his back), I've had time to do more fall store-trolling.

Though I prefer boutiques, the big department stores offer a wider vista, and I discovered: dolman sleeves abound, from blouses and sweaters to jackets. The bridge lines that offer dependable business clothes (like Anne Klein, at left from Nordstrom) have cloned the dolman, to my dismay.

Who looks good in this cut? The extra fabric under the arm extends the bustline and bunches at the side of the garment.

Originally a feature of the hussar's jacket, worn over the shoulders, the dolman's wide armhole was practical for the field. Emphasizing a wide chest was probably prized.

The dolman sweater is often twinned with ballon sleeves, as in the white Laura Keats number. I can almost hear a designer shrieking, "Do something to it! Do more to it!" Belts just make Miss Dolman look like a linebacker.

Somehow the big batwings cheapen even this $1,200 Stella McCartney top:

This sleeve sabotage amounts to an enforced savings plan for me- blocky and sacky won't open my wallet.

I'd have to float up (helium balloon up) to Armani, offering stunning jackets this fall, to find that precise, fitted armhole that takes off ten pounds and flatters the whole upper body.


Susan B said…
My guess is that cheapness to produce (e.g. total lack of tailoring) is having an unwanted influence on which styles are making it to the racks. According to the "what to wear for your body type" books, dolman sleeves are supposed to be good for minimizing a large bust, but they just make me look like a little teapot, short and stout. I may have to save up for some Emporio Armani.
Anonymous said…
Audrey Hepburn was the only person who ever looked good in a dolman sleeve. I agree they are really untidy and cumbersome as a shape unless you have limbs like pins.

I don't think cheapness of manufacture is necessarily a reason for the influx of the style, as any saving on labour would be taken up by the extra fabric needed and the wastage of fabric caused by cutting one entire piece.

It's been around a couple of winters in the UK and really looks rather tired now.
materfamilias said…
Interesting -- I haven't spotted this at all, so far, and now I'm sure I'll see dolman sleeves everywhere. Won't be buying them though.
materfamilias said…
Oh, and give my sympathies to Le Duc -- hope his healing continues. Don't you have a New York trip coming up soon? (and then Paris, of course.)
Duchesse said…
Pseu: That's what I thought too, cheap labour.
materfamilias; Paris only, late Oct.- thanks, he's up on light activity now.
GP: Hepburn looked divine... a couture dolman by Givenchy is a planet removed from what I saw.
Anjela's Day said…
I hadn't seen any but, then I haven't physically shopped in an age... Plus everything in this town is about 6 months behind. Amazing, as we are just an hour outside New York.

I wore something funny yesterday-Have no mirror unpacked in my new abode + one of those mornings when I grabbed something off the end of my bed (which is my temporary wardrobe)
wore capris and a 3/4 length tee shirt. Alone, either piece would be fine, together, as I am tall, I looked like Bride of Frankenstein. I had to laugh. I looked like I had had a massive growth spurt. Dolman sleeves have a similar effect on me- But I guess they minimize plump thighs?
Anonymous said…
The Dolman or the batwing, both are just crimes against humanity.
Anonymous said…
I had a wonderful Max Mara jacket with dolman sleeves that I wore for ten years and it still looks fresh. If the sleeves are cut properly they conceal a multitude of around-the-middle sins. If not, they look goofy. Don't throw out the idea of dolmans without trying a closer to the body cut.

The posts with the most