Finding Clothes When You’re Not Manufacturing Standard Sizes
It doesn’t matter what your height or size, you can still be stylish. Learning a bit about what works for you and how to put outfits together all that really helps no matter what your height and weight. When you’re petite, finding the right clothes can be a challenge. Along with dressing for your body shape, your height and proportions matter, too.
When you are petite and plus size, it is hard to find real-life inspiration when everybody out there is a very different size and shape from you. A lot of Instagram influencers, models, actresses and other people you see out there especially in the fashion world are very slim. Not just slim but on the very slim side. While there are actually quite a lot of fashion and style bloggers who are larger in size, few of them are also petite. The industry standard for petite is 5’4 and under. That categorization is purely based on height — you can be any weight and age and still considered petite if you’re shorter than 5’4.
Yet even though there are Plus ranges and Petite ranges there is never a range that fits both at once! One of the biggest issues of plus size clothing is that they make everything longer so it looks proportionally right on the coathanger – even though you don’t grow taller as you put on weight!
Clothing manufacturers have their standardised sizing charts, not that these are always spot on, as fabrics will make a big difference to how a garment fits, stretch vs wovens will fit very differently. Plus manufacturers are wanting to make clothing as cheaply as possible (on the whole) and it’s cheaper to sew straight lines over very curvy ones, so if you have curves, you will often find fit issues and need to make alterations to your clothes to get them to fit your kind of curves. More on this later…
Getting Style Inspiration
One of the fabulous benefits that the women in my style programs, 7 Steps to Style and Evolve Your Style, really enjoy is that they are seeing outfits on women of all ages, sizes and from all walks of life.
For style inspiration, check out Instagram, Pinterest as well as style blogs like mine! Finding a petite, plus size blogger who isn’t in their 20s is not harder than finding the Holy Grail or a Rainbow Unicorn. It’s just a matter of discovering the key hashtags they use on Instagram or knowing the right terms to search on Pinterest and Google. If you use Instagram regularly, you may have realised that Instagram doesn’t allow you search for multiple hashtags. You’ll need to use a third-party app like Mulpix or Google to search for Instagram accounts using two or more hashtags. Some of the key hashtags might include #PSOOTD (Plus Size Outfit Of The Day) #curvy #styleover40 #midsizefashion
Here’s how to search multiple Instagram hashtags using a basic Google search:
- Get on your desktop.
- Go to google.com.
- Type in “site:instagram.com.”
- Add the hashtags, keyword or name you’re searching after that.
- Press Search.
I have had plenty of petite and plus size clients they’ve all mentioned that it is really hard to find clothes that fit properly at a price that they can afford. Plus size is easier than petite but you will have to have alterations, there is no other way.
The main reason for alterations is that as manufacturers make clothes wider, they also make them proportionally longer. Most people when they put on weight, they only put on weight sideways. They don’t suddenly get taller at the same time. They make these garments things longer so that when we look at the proportions of the garment, it looks more normal and balanced.
I did a little experiment one day. I went into a local department store that had both a regular and plus size mannequin. I actually stood on the little plinth next to the regular mannequin and I took a photo of myself, just to notice what her proportions were in comparison to me. Now I’m of average height and she was already tall compared to me, her legs came up to my waist, so already out of proportion to a regular person. Next, I stood next to the plus-size mannequin and she was a head taller than the regular mannequin. This optical illusion is how they make those clothes look normal on a plus-size mannequin.
Don’t expect garments to fit you off the hanger when you walk into a store. Clothing manufacturers are making clothes for hanger appeal. A short and wide garment hasn’t got the same hanger appeal as a longer garment as the proportions are balanced. You have to train yourself to ignore hanger appeal and see out the outfit works on your body.
Mentally prepare for the majority of garments to be too long and that you’ll be taking the bottom off pants and skirts or taking shirts up from the shoulder. It’s worth taking pins with you when you go shopping so you can pin things up and visualise how the garment will look once it’s been altered – either do them yourself or take them to a professional. There are ways to make it easier for yourself. How long is your ideal sleeve? Measure the inseams of pants you love, and memorize those numbers. How long is your preferred length of work slacks or cropped jeans or workout pants? These little numbers will open up the world, allowing you to confidently shop the land of the cropped and the ankle-length and the midi.
As you consider alterations, remember a few key points
- You can’t move arm holes or shoulder seams, but you can change the sleeve length, so buy tops and jackets that fit your shoulders properly.
- You can’t change the seat of your pants, but you can hem the legs and take in the waist.
- It’s easier to take away fabric than to add it, so buy items to fit the largest part of you and have the rest taken in.
- It’s better to buy the best quality you can afford so they will last you rather than the cheap, nasty fabric end of the market because that stuff wears out really quickly.
If you’ve got any suggestions for retailers with good petite and plus size ranges, please add them in the comments section. When you are working within a budget, consider looking for garments on resale sites; consignment stores and discount department stores like TJ Maxx; Marshalls and Nordstrom rack where you can source great quality clothes at very reasonable prices.
What Guidelines to Follow When Your Body Shape isn’t “Standard”
Thank you! From a petite, plus over 60. It is difficult to find clothing that fits. I have recently understood that I am in proportion. Always have been. It is the clothing that isn’t. This was a revelation that reset a great deal of negative thought patterns. I am just bigger around than I was when I was in my 20s. Who isn’t and we would look odd if we were not, I sew and even in sewing patterns, proportional petite patterns were hard to find, and adjustments, drafting etc have been a steep learning curve. Hanger appeal relates to photo appeal on patterns. Line drawings do not show reality with their elongated bodies but real photos, not always appealing and never a petite look. I recently found a designer for petite plus. Did not like the photos or the styling but I chose pants. They fit without any changes! I am a fit model! Now I can change the styling. Thank you for all your tips over the years. It took awhile but I got there.
Wonderful post! I remember someone telling me years ago that we should not attempt to alter our bodies to fit the clothes, but rather we should alter the clothes to fit our bodies. It is a message that has stuck with me. Thanks for linking up.
In the US Talbots has a petite plus line. Although in the last year or two it’s not nearly as comprehensive as it used to be.
For more casual clothing J Jill has an extensive petite line. It is sized generously. I’m petite plus and I can wear this line in knits and not look lumpy.
Imogen, you always provide such helpful information!
Thanks for the tip! It’s great to know who is creating those styles
They have the same size ratio method with long boots, apparently the smaller the shoe size the narrower the leg. It seems size 5 feet equate to size 6 legs!
I am 156cm and Cue has always been one of the best brands and I’ve found some great pieces in sales and in outlet stores as well as preloved. UK brands such as Marks and Spencer have petite and plus sizing, they often also do jeans and trousers in different lengths (great for the petite and taller) and deliver to Australia with sensible fees.
Thanks for your suggestions!
Another thing manufacturers do which I hate is showing their clothes on a size 12/14 (American) model. That’s not plus size! It’s the average size of American women. If you don’t carry the size, which many plus size companies don’t, DON’T SHOW A MODEL IN THAT SIZE. Why is it so hard for them to understand that we want to see what the clothes look like on women who look like us? If the garment doesn’t look good on an actual plus-size woman, why buy it?