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A cap sleeve is a specific sleeve style found on short sleeve shirts, dresses, and other garments. In fashion, this term is generally a descriptor reserved for women’s blouses and T-shirts, though it refers more to the specific cut or style of garment, indicating that the sleeve is cut and seamed to fit the shoulders correctly. A cap sleeve shirt is usually not as loose about the upper arms as the standard men’s T-shirt. The length of the sleeve is also slightly shorter than a standard short-sleeved shirt, with the average length being between 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) to about 4 inches (10.2 cm).
Shirts and dresses given this name can be casual or formal, but they are always short sleeved. A number of shirt styles for women are described with this term, including T-shirts. Cap sleeve T-shirts are particularly popular among young women and girls, especially when the shirt is cut to fit the waistline as well.
Cap sleeve blouses are simply a style of short sleeve blouse that fits well under a blazer or jacket because the sleeves are cut to fit and do not bunch up around the upper arm and armpit area. Similarly, a dress with these sleeves can be coupled with a blazer, jacket, or sweater and be comfortable to wear as well. Though the blouse may have a collar, most are collarless with varying neckline styles.
Any type of material, from cotton to rayon to stretch knit, can be used for a cap sleeve shirt. Both high-end designers and mass retail labels use the descriptor to describe a wide assortment of women’s tops and dresses. They are considered a more feminine version of the standard T-shirt and are available in an array of patterns and styles.