The humble t-shirt traces its origins as far back as the Spanish-American War in 1898. From there it became a staple of Naval undergarments and onto other areas of military servicemen. Actors like Marlon Brando and James Dean made the plain white t-shirt an iconic fashion standard.
Today there are many styles and colors of t-shirts to choose from. They range from different types of materials, cuts of necklines, and even varieties of t-shirt sleeves.
Wondering about the different types of shirt sleeves? In this guide, we'll explain the most common t-shirt sleeve types, their attributes, and some examples of each one.
Keep reading to discover more information.
What Is the Purpose of T-Shirt Sleeves?
At its most basic level, the sleeves of a t-shirt serve a very practical purpose. They help to hold the t-shirt onto your body. T-shirt sleeves attach to the shirt's core and are made of a length of fabric with openings on the ends to put your arms through.
T-shirt sleeves cover your arms and offer protection from elements such as heat and cold. Individuals who work outdoors rely on t-shirt sleeves to prevent the sun from burning and damaging their skin.
In addition to its practical benefits, t-shirt sleeves also influence the way a t-shirt drapes. This means it can alter a t-shirt's silhouette to look a certain way.
When it comes to t-shirt sleeves, you want a shirt where the sleeve is not too tight around the arms to allow for freedom of movement. However, if the t-shirt sleeves are too loose and baggy, this can affect the way the rest of the shirt hangs on your body.
What Are the Different Types of T-Shirt Sleeves?
There are two different designs of sleeves for t-shirts, flat and set-in. A flat sleeve is sewn into a t-shirt before the shirt's side seams are finished shut. Whereas, a set-in sleeve is sewn to the armhole and trunk of the shirt after the side seam and shoulder have been closed.
From here, there are many styles of shirt sleeves. These include:
- Raglan sleeve
- 3/4 sleeve
- Cap sleeve
- Long sleeve
- Short sleeve
To add to these styles, we'll also look at the sleeveless style of t-shirts below.
Raglan Sleeve Shirts
A raglan sleeve t-shirt is unique in that it possesses a seam that comes from the underarm directly up to the neckline. A raglan sleeve also does not have a shoulder seam as other shirt sleeve designs have. Raglan is a more casual look and feel that allows for freer and more comfortable movement.
6051-Unisex Tri-Blend 3/4 Sleeve Raglan
Our Unisex Tri-Blend 3/4 Sleeve Raglan from Next Level is available in 21 colors and sizes from XS to 3XL. It is constructed from 50% polyester, 25% rayon, and 25% combed ring-spun cotton. Its 4.3oz lightweight tri-blend and 32 singles material is cool and comfortable and allows for freedom of movement.
3200-Unisex 3/4 Sleeve Baseball T-Shirt
The Bella Canvas Unisex 3/4 Sleeve Baseball T-Shirt is made of 52% Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton and 48% polyester. It comes in 31 color varieties and sizes XS to 2XL. Tightknit 40 singles and 3.6oz lightweight fabric make this 3/4 baseball shirt comfortable and stylish.
G570-Adult Heavy Cotton 3/4 Raglan Sleeve T-Shirt
Gildan's Adult Heavy Cotton 3/4 Raglan Sleeve T-Shirt is 100% cotton preshrunk jersey knit. It comes in 10 colors and sizes XS to 3XL.
Its contrast color is set into the collar. It features a single-needle topstitched back neck and double-needle sleeve and bottom hems.
3/4 Sleeve Shirts
A 3/4 sleeve shirt offers more coverage than a short sleeve shirt but is not as constricting as a long sleeve shirt. A 3/4 sleeve shirt falls just below the elbow to about 3 to 6 inches below the wrist line.
Wearing a 3/4 sleeve is more flattering since it draws attention downward and gives the appearance of a slimmer and smoother waist. For those who are self-conscious about their arms, a 3/4 sleeve does not show unsightly arm features.
6251-Unisex CVC 3/4 Sleeve Raglan Baseball T-Shirt
This Unisex 3/4 Sleeve Raglan Baseball T-Shirt from Next Level is made from preshrunk 60% combed and ring-spun and 40% polyester CVC jersey fabric. It is 4.3oz and 32 singles material with raglan sleeves and a matching color baby rib collar.
In 10 colors and available in sizes from XS to 3XL.
6951-Women's French Terry 3/4 Sleeve Raglan
The Next Level Women's French Terry 3/4 Sleeve Raglan comes in 12 color varieties and sizes S to 2XL. It's a lightweight 4.9oz 30 singles French Terry fabric made from 50% combed ring-spun cotton 50% polyester.
Dolman Sleeve Shirts
A dolman sleeve has a wider arm opening but narrows at the wrist resembling a sort of batwing design. A dropped shoulder gives dolman sleeved shirts a looser and slouchier appearance. It creates a flowy and flattering silhouette drape on the body that is feminine and comfortable.
6760-Next Level Women's Tri-Blend Dolman T-Shirt
The Women's Tri-Blend Dolman T-Shirt from Next Level is a lightweight 4.3oz weight t-shirt that comes in 14 colors and in sizes from XS to 3XL. It has a dolman neck and looser fitting sleeves.
It's made from premium tri-blend 32 singles material that is 50% polyester, 25% rayon, and 25% combed and ring-spun cotton 25%.
8821-Women's Flowy Draped Sleeve Dolman T-Shirt
With the Women's Flowy Draped Sleeve Dolman T-Shirt from Bella Canvas, you have your choice of 5 colors in sizes Small and Medium. It provides a drapey fit with an open dolman sleeve. This 3.7oz weight 30 singles material is made from 65% polyester and 35% viscose.
The Athletic Heather color is 52% polyester and 48% viscose. The Marble colors are a 3.5oz weight material made of 91% polyester and 9% combed ring-spun cotton of 40 singles.
Cap Sleeve Shirts
Cap sleeves are shorter than short sleeve shirts. A cap sleeve gets its name from the cut and seamed tapered style of the sleeve that disappears under the arm. The sleeve sits atop the shoulder joint only and gently cups it giving the appearance of an umbrella or baseball cap silhouette.
G670L-Gildan Women's Softcycle CVC T-Shirt
The Gildan Women's Softcycle CVC T-Shirt is a 4.6oz 60% combed ring-spun cotton, 40% polyester t-shirt. Available in 10 colors and sizes from S to 2XL. It features cap sleeves, a taped neck and shoulders with a double-needle sleeve and bottom hems.
G500L-Women's Heavy Cotton T-Shirt
The Gildan Women's Heavy Cotton T-Shirt is a 5.3oz 100% jersey-knit cotton in 31 colors. It is available in sizes S to 3XL.
The sport Grey and Antique Heathers colors are 90% cotton and 10% polyester. While the safety colors and heathers are 50% cotton and 50% polyester.
Long sleeve shirts have material extending from the shoulder running the length of the arm to the wrist. In warmer temperatures, long sleeves protect the arms from damaging UV rays of the sun to prevent sunburn. In colder temperatures, the extra fabric can help keep you warmer.
G540-Heavy Cotton Long-Sleeve T-Shirt
Gildan's 5.3oz Heavy Cotton Long-Sleeve T-Shirt is made with 100% preshrunk sustainable and fair-grown cotton in the USA. It comes in 25 colors and sizes S to 3XL.
Ash Grey is 99% cotton, 1% polyester while Sport Grey is 90% cotton, 10% polyester. Safety Orange, Safety Green & Graphite Heather are 50% cotton and 50% polyester.
C6014-Comfort Colors Long-Sleeve T-Shirt
Our Comfort Colors Long-Sleeve T-Shirt comes in 42 colors and sizes S to 3XL. It's made of 6.1oz 100% preshrunk ring-spun cotton and is a soft-washed garment-dyed fabric.
It features a twill-taped shoulder-to-shoulder design, along with a double-needle stitched neck, armholes, and bottom hem with ribbed cuffs and collar.
Short sleeve shirts are the most common and versatile of shirt sleeves. Short sleeves extend down past the bicep and stop midway on the arm just above the elbow bend. Short sleeves provide comfort and range of motion with minimal restriction.
G500-White Gildan T-Shirt
This White Short Sleeve T-Shirt from Gildan is the standard classic white t-shirt. It is made from 5.3 oz 100% preshrunk cotton. It comes in sizes S to 5XL.
3001C-Bella Canvas Unisex Jersey T-Shirt
Made from 100% Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton, this Bella Canvas Unisex Jersey T-Shirt is available in an array of 59 gorgeous colors and sizes ranging from S to 5XL. Exceptionally soft, this casual 32 single 4.2oz lightweight fabric shirt is great for everyday wear.
Sleeveless shirts are shirts with no sleeves at all, the arm area is left completely open. Sleeveless shirts are ideal for people who work out since they do not restrict the movement of the arm.
For hotter temperatures, sleeveless shirts offer optimum comfort and cooling since there is less fabric covering the body so air can flow freer. Sleeveless shirts can also be known as tank tops or muscle shirts.
N1533-Women's Ideal Racerback Tank
This Women's Ideal Racerback Tank Top from Next Level is available in 23 vibrant colors in sizes from XS to 2XL. It is made from 60% combed ring-spun cotton and 40% polyester. A 4oz lightweight and 30 singles construction provides comfort and breathability.
TT11M-Men's Zone Performance Muscle T-Shirt
The Men's Zone Performance Muscle T-Shirt comes in 8 bright and colorfast colors and sizes XS to 4XL. Made from a moisture-wicking 100% polyester interlock, it offers UV protection and performance.
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