Imperfectly Proportioned

No, I’m certainly not referring to you gorgeous lot.

I’m merely having a teeny weeny little rant about retailers who claim to create items that are perfect for tall women and… quite frankly…. don’t. What many fashion designers/buyers incorrectly assume about their tall clients, is that their clothes simply need to be longer, and their shoes bigger.

I was recently flicking through a fashion catalogue when I found THIS page.

As lovely as some of the clothes in this catalogue are, the suggestion that an item of clothing could be “Designed for women under 5ft3 and over 5ft9” is a little bit nonsense really, isn’t it? I really do believe that if you’re going to deliver a range for tall women (or petite ones!) then you should do just that. Different heights come with very different size and style needs.

A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Alice and Emily of Long Tall Sally HQ, who took me through their A/W 2011/12 range. The girls told me that a great deal of research has gone into the sizing of their new jeans; not just in terms of leg length, but regarding the sizing of the pockets, the rise to the waist or hips, the length of the zip… important elements that contribute to our overall comfort and that many retailers sadly overlook.

Most stores aren’t quite so meticulous in their investigations. Take shoe shops; a lot of retailers — even those that do have the good sense to create shoes in sizes larger than an 8  — will merely increase every element of the shoe when making it in a larger size. Anyone ever noticed that the heel on the size 3 shoe is often a LOT smaller than the one on the size 9 in the same style? Which really makes very little sense, when you consider that most tall women want flat shoes or diddy heels. I’ve also noticed that I seem to get through shoes like I do pairs of tights… after a couple of wears mine are already tearing apart — largely because most “plus-size” shoes aren’t made with the correct amount of support at the back or sides, so that more often than not, (contrary to what Nancy Sinatra/ Jessica Simpson might tell you), my boots are NOT made for walking.

And it’s not the just sizing that’s all wrong in many ranges… it’s the style. Clothes that feature in a tall range should be those that flatter and make the most of a tall figure, not make you feel awkward and gawky.

Phew. Rant over. Although I do feel like I’ve drawn a little dark rain cloud over what is normally a super up-beat and celebratory blog. So let’s have a gander at the styles that are very flattering for tall women. Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with (based on the advice of kind stylists I’ve spoken to/ trials and errors I’ve made myself). Would appreciate your thoughts on this one too…

CHUNKY ACCESSORIES I do love a bit of bling. And big accessories will really complement a tall frame. Longer necklaces will also break up the length of your long torso and add interest to an outfit.

STRUCTURE Tailored jackets with interesting angles/ tops with shoulder pads… these will break up the long line of your body and look sensational.

MAXI NO ONE looks as jaw-droppingly fabulous in a floor-skimming skirt as you do. Fact.

LAYERING is your best friend. Leggings and tights stop short dresses looking too obscene, and thin knits/ kaftans/ waistcoats/ shirts over long tees will add interest and soften your look.

DROP WAIST If you’re blessed with endless legs, then dresses/ trousers that are cut high on the waist can sometimes make your top half look tiny in comparison. Find dresses where the waist is cut lower, and make sure your tops fall a few inches below the waist-line of your jeans, to balance the look.

And don’t be nervous about wearing clothes that actually accentuate your height… skinny jeans, high heels and shorts might make your legs looks longer…. but they’ll also look BLEEDING fabulous. That’s a win-win situation right there my friends.

Have you got any style ideas that you think might help our lovely leggy community? Perhaps you’ve had problems finding clothes to fit… even in specialist Tall stores. I invite you to have your own little rant here. Although the next post will much more sugary and sweet, I promise. (And to all you retailers who are already doing a stellar job… and those who are at least trying to help us out… I really am very, VERY grateful. Big THANK YOU kisses).

L xx

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13 Responses to Imperfectly Proportioned

  1. Yeah, I have a beef with sizing too. I am 6’4 and over 50. I use to be terribly thin but now after knee problems and other body part malfunctions, less active=larger body type. Even being very thin and flat chested did not make shopping any simpler. Years ago there were absolutely NO tall sizes available anywhere. So I resorted to large womens clothes. Not only was I tall but I had broad shoulders so I needed the width. Well with the extra width comes the assumption one has a big chest. So my sleeves were always too short, my shirt baggy and I walked around in men’s shoes and ill fitting high water pants. Now a days, I can find jeans that are long enough but the sleeves are still too short and TIGHT. Tall women look thinner because we are stretched out but come down measure to measure, we need extra material!
    I would love to have one single outfit that ‘fits’ and I was comfortable in. The tall sizes I find are not it.

    • allthetallthings

      You’re right Krissy, no one fits a standard size. Amongst tall women there is still a spectrum of pear-shaped/ top-heavy/ plus-size/ super-skinny girls that aren’t catered for. I’ll have to look into some styles/ stores that can help meet these individual needs. xx

  2. It bothers me that most “tall” sizing only looks at a few measurements and a range of body types is not accounted for – but I realize there isn’t much of a market here, so we have to hope the speciality stores like LTS are good at what they do.

    Most “tall” jeans are just longer inseams. It is almost exciting when someone gets the rise a bit closer, but there are so many other details.

    Other parts of the body are even harder things like long sleeves are a probably for most of us, but our trunk lengths and how we’re distributed vary so much too. We really need made to measure, but that is a very expensive route.

    At 6’3 I’m long enough that the full length dress is hard to find, but I have one and it is fantastic and even works with heels. And large accessories and jewelry work very well too! I love huge layed necklaces and very large earrings. These don’t have to be expensive and I’ve found great things at crafts fairs that most women can’t or won’t wear.

    All of this has let me think differently and maybe a bit more creatively. I’m small enough on top that I take a small tee shirt, but the lenghts are way too short even though I’m proportionately short waisted. The trick is to cut off part of an old tee that will be tight from the top of my hips to my waist. This gives a great layered look and you can do interesting colors and sew on other details if you like. I’ve had women stop me and ask me what I’m wearing – and they sometimes talk about my clothes before mentioning my height. *Then* I know I must be doing something right:-)!

    I also love your comment on accentuating your height:-) All of the advice we get is to look shorter, so I started ignoring that and even looking at what is recommended for short women (maybe this is a good thing to do, unlike the page you mention). I have some semi-comfortable platforms with a modest rise that I can walk all day in and my gait looks ok. For the clothing this means monochromatic and having very long lines. I don’t dress like this much, but it feels good at times.

    Your hair styling and makeup is also important. I think a short hair style often throws your visual balance, so I stay with fairly long hair and pay attention to the cut. I’m still experimenting and trying to visualize here. I also am experimenting with makeup. I don’t know height dictates one type or another, but my face shape does. Again I’m after postive comments that may not center on my height – after all it is just part of me rather than all of me.

    Your suggestions are spot on. I’ve been using layering out of necessity since I was a teen and have learned how to make it look fashionable. It is a great way to deal with pieces that don’t quite fit in a few dimensions.

    • allthetallthings

      Thanks Jheri… you’ll have to send me some pics of your outfits! I do love a bit of customizing! I’m sure you’ll help inspire a few readers (and me!) to get the scissors out! xx

  3. Great article and do not feel bad about complaining a little. 🙂

    Like the previous commenter (jheri), I also experiment a great deal with proportions and what suits me. I do not take the recommendations for tall women at a face value. Mostly because even though I am 6’2″, I do not look good in long skirts or dresses. I just feel overwhelmed by the amount of material and end up looking like a tent. If you do not feel comfortable then how could you look good, right? Since I am fairly small-boned in the top part of my body, I also cannot pull off very chunky accessories. I do love them, but it looks better on me if there are finer details and points of interest in that wide cuff or long necklace.

    So, things I have found to look good on taller women (by observation and by wearing them myself):
    * Scarves… Be it big and chunky-knit or fine and dainty, tall women do seem to be able to look better in scarves. Must be something about the proportions…
    * Playing with the aforementioned proportions – if something is big, then perhaps something else should be more close-fitting. I know that the fashion tends to play with these things, but at least for myself I tend to stick with the rule of balance.
    * Retayloring the waist of fitted shirts and dresses. Fortunately I can do it myself but I can definitely see how it would pay off even to have it done professionally. It makes a world of difference if the midriff is where it is supposed to be… The too short sleeves you can roll up (and in some cases even look better like that), but there is no hiding a waist that is 2in too high. Otherwise, just wear something on top of it – a sweater, a wide belt that you can position wherever you like etc.
    * Knowing what works for your body type. Just because you are tall, it does not mean that this is the main characteristic of your body. I am bigger on the lower half and thus I wear things that mostly correct this “flaw”: draw attention to my upper half with bright colours and patterns. And this makes me feel much better than trying to “hide” the fact that I am tall. There is no hiding it anyway.
    * Walk tall! By far THE MOST IMPORTANT thing for a tall woman: stand up straight! Every single thing will look infinitely better on you and you yourself feel much better as well.

    • allthetallthings

      Great tips and sooo with you on the last comment! Also a big fan of scarves. Never really thought about it but they are a great tool for softening a long, lean body shape. xxxxx

  4. Can we have some example pictures of your tips Laura?

    • allthetallthings

      Good plan petal. Will do shortly. Had my roots touched up today so I am fine to be seen in public again 😉 xx

  5. I am a big fan of scarves too:-) While I can’t afford Hermes, they do have some some great suggestions on things you can do. Try this pdf out:-)

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