What You Need to Know About Pants and Why They Fit So Bad

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

What I hate about finding pants to fit

  • Camel Toe
  • Crotch Pouch
  • Wedgies
  • Saggy Butt
  • Drag lines

It’s almost impossible for some women to find trousers that fit well.  It’s most commonly an issue with woven fabrics, rather than knit as there is no stretch that can cheat the fit to be better than it is.  But poorly designed trousers will still fit poorly, they just won’t look quite so bad.

Women’s bodies are so varied in their shape.  Defined waists and undefined waists, slimmer thighs and fuller thighs, rounded bottom or flatter bottom, high bottom or lower set bottom, longer rise or shorter rise …. so many things to consider and so it’s completely understandable that trousers are tricky to fit.  

One of my wonderful 7 Steppers Susanne, has done copious amounts of research into her own pant-fit-woes and provided me with some great photos to illustrate this post.  Just like most women, she finds trousers hard to fit and has her own unique body issues too!

So why are pants so hard to fit?

The short story is that some people are more elliptical/oval in cross-section (elliptical lateral body shape) and others are more round/circular (round lateral body shape).

It is easier and cheaper, however, to make clothes for elliptical people. You can fit more pattern pieces onto the fabric, which makes production costs cheaper and so is more favoured by the retailers as it improves profit margins, but makes a more poorly fitting garment!

What you have to remember, is that fashion brands and garment factories are in the business of making money, not making clothes that will fit and flatter your unique body!  

So the factory with the contract to make pants for a designer has to meet the specified size measurements, but they might make adjustments to make more pattern pieces fit onto the fabric. Taking an inch off of the outer hip and putting it onto the center seam will do it, and ensure that the pants have the expected measurements. One side effect, however, is that the center seam is now a different length, so the customer may get a wedgie, camel toe, or crotch pouch depending on her shape.

And then there is the question of what body the designer is designing for versus your body.

Why pants are so hard to fit - fitting tips for trousers

In Susanne’s case her butt is lower and flatter than most pants are designed to accommodate, so there is too much fabric between butt and knees in the back. Think of it as having a B cup butt, and pants are mostly made for a D cup butt.  This creates drag lines of excess fabric in the back of the thighs.

Why pants are so hard to fit - how different sizes will create different issues

My recommendation is to make a commitment to try on pants until you find ones that fit, even if you end up having to buy very expensive pants.

Why trousers are so hard to fit - fit issues and drag linesTake photos from the rear. If they have drag lines in the back (like the photos featured here, or maybe in some other arrangement), then the pants don’t fit right. Or learn to make your own pants. Both options are frustrating and take a lot of work. You could also give up and wear skirts.

 

 

The Shape of the Rise 

What chance have you got of finding a pair of trousers to fit?  One thing you can do to get a better idea of what you personally need in a pant is to figure out what shape rise  you need.

To do this, turn your pant inside out and put one pant leg through the other and then look at the U shape seam that is created from the front to back (that’s the front and back rise seams that goes between your legs when wearing the pant).

 

You will notice in the image above that one pair of pants has a much narrower U shape seam than the other.  Which suits you will be dependent on your butt shape and body!  

But if you know, then before you try on pants, you can do this quick trick and check out the pants you’re considering buying by doing this is store before you bother to take them to the change rooms, if it looks narrow and you need wide (or the other way around) you can leave them behind and not waste your time!

Waistband Construction

If you should be so talented as to be able to make your own pants, this is a tip I picked up from a tailor friend to have a pair of pants that are easy to take in or let out and to have fit more easily.  It comes from the way men’s suit pants are made.  Notice how the seam on the top right photo below goes through the waistband down the back of the pants – this means you don’t have to take the waistband off the pants to make an  adjustment to the size, allowing you to take them in or let them out more easily.

Flat Butt Tip

Then check out the pants bottom left (above) and you will see there is a seam that goes down the middle of the back of the legs from the waistband  – this allows you to take in through the leg, under the seat (bottom) which is really handy if you happen to have a rather flat bottom and you get pooling below the seat where there is excess fabric because there is nothing to fill it.

Stretch in your pants makes this much easier as you can buy a little tighter so you don’t get the sag – this is why I wear only pants with stretch in them these days!What You Need to Know About Pants and Why They Fit So Bad

Great Pant Fit Resources

If you are a sewer, or just want to understand more about pant fit and what’s wrong with your trousers and where they don’t fit – I’ve found a few great resources for you.

Closet Case Patterns – fitting adjustment (brilliant for anyone who sews or wants to know what can be done)

5 out of 4 – Pant Fitting Guide – this is worth reading – just to see where all the pant fit issues are and what they are caused by – great illustrations

Fashion Incubator – anatomy of camel toe – if this is your problem – you’ll find out why and part 2

Why It’s So Hard to Find Pants that Fit

How to Choose Pants That Are Not Jeans or Dress Pants

The Best Clothing Alterations Based on Your Body Shape

Easy Style Guide to the Best Pants for Your Body Shape

What You Need to Know About Pants and Why They Fit So Bad

Photos in trousers by Susanne Moskalaski

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

More from Imogen Lamport

Your Colour and Style Questions Answered on Video: 9

Here are five (count them) new videos and over 60 minutes of...
Read More

7 Comments

  • Thanks, this was a very informative post, Imogen.

    I’m going to try the tip about checking rise shape by putting one pant leg inside the other. I finally found a store that sells trousers/pants in tall lengths and for curvy women and don’t buy jeans or work pants anywhere else now. So I can’t wait to see what they’re doing compared to some of my older less better fitting jeans from other retailers.

    Why do we never hear of men complaining about not getting pants to fit? Is it that men are more uniformly shaped, there’s more variety in fits, or that retailers construct men’s clothes better as your tailor friend’s trick indicates? or do most men not care?

    Lastly, I really struggle to understand what you mean by elliptical or circular lateral shape.

    • Men have less curve in their body – so they are heaps easier to fit (they don’t have defined waists or larger hips or thighs or saddlebags or…. plus they make pants differently too – they make them to be altered really easily and cheaply!

  • This is an impressively comprehensive post about pants-fitting problems and solutions. I am happy to say that after much toil I fitted a pants pattern that flatters me from every angle. It ranks right up there with my top achievements in life, almost! So to other readers, if you have any inclination to sew, it is definitely worth a try to fit a pants pattern. Or look for someone whose brain is adept at imagining three-dimensional objects (mine is not), preferably a patternmaker, and pay to have a pattern fitted. Pants construction is pretty straightforward. I am thrilled to be able to spend my time shopping for beautiful fabrics and custom-making pants rather than be a discouraged ready-to-wear shopper.

  • I make my own trousers, but they still don’t fit perfectly. On the course I learnt that pants are the most difficult piece of clothing to construct. And in some cases it is not possible to attain a perfect fit, I mean you could have perfect fit but you may not be able to move.

  • I started sewing precisely because finding pants that fit was such a drama- and I like to wear pants.
    Learning to fit the pants was a drama too, but one worth enduring.
    I would also observe that fabrics play a huge role in how pants fit. I have made pants with the same pattern. Different weaves and fibre contents have a big effect on how the pattern fits. It’s a constant learning curve!

    • So true – stretch fabrics are very different from wovens – and even within these categories the weight and drape will really influence how the pants fit!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *