Reader Question: My biggest challenge is that my pants don’t quite fit properly. The size that fits best are just a tad small in the waist but the next size up is way too big all over. I like an outfit but I put on but then my midsection catches my eyes and it’s discouraging. I’ve tried various rises of pants with limited success. Where should I start?
Why Pants Don’t Fit
There seems to be a misconception around pants, trousers or jeans that when we buy them off the rack they will fit us like a glove. Or, if not, we can fasten them with a belt and all will be well with the world.
Ask any woman and she’ll tell you: We are not all shaped the same, and we each carry weight differently. Some of us have flat tummies and full thighs. Some of us have round tummies and thinner thighs. We all have different bust sizes and heights.
H, V and O shapes often find that the waist is too tight, resulting in a nasty muffin top, but the hips/bottom too saggy. If they do find a pant that has a waistband that fits, because of their straighter shape, they slide down all the time and they spend the day hitching up their trousers.
8, A and X shapes find that the waists are too large, the rise too low and the hips and bottom too tight which creates nasty pulling across the crotch area.
Don’t know your body shape – check out my body shape calculator here or if you’d like my professional opinion on your shape, you can get this as part of my 7 Steps to Style program (or with an individual consultation with me).
Pants are originally a man’s garment. Unfortunately, it’s much easier to fit a man than it is to fit a woman as there are generally less difference in the waist/hip/thigh in men than women.
If you have pants that currently fit well, take notice of what are the measurements of those pants – rise, hips, waist to allow easy comparisons.
The ‘rise’ of your trousers is the depth of the waistband. Again, your own proportions will determine the length of rise that feels good to you.
Broadly speaking, a low-rise is great if you have a flat tummy. And most of us don’t! A mid-rise works well for most figure types. This would usually sit just below your natural waist-line. A high rise is great for showing off small waists and can give the illusion of lengthening shorter legs.
The cut of the leg has a huge influence on the final outcome, and so does rise, which is the measurement between the crotch and the top of the waistband. The combination of these two things can make or break your ensemble because what flatters one body style may look all wrong on another.
No matter your size, looking for pants with small amounts of stretch is an easy way to get the right fit. It will allow them to stretch more easily around larger areas of your lower body, while still fitting closely to the smaller areas.
If you’ve spent a lot of time pants shopping, you’ve likely noticed that some brands offer trousers that fit perfectly around wider hips but are a little tight in thighs, while others cater to larger thighs and smaller waists.
Think of a brand’s clothing shape, the dimensions of each size, and the amount of ease in their clothes as a form of intellectual property; it’s the secret recipe that makes each brand special and keeps customers coming back.
A brand catering to a mature customer, their size medium is going to be representative of their demographic. If you contrast that with a brand catering to a teenage or younger woman, their size medium is going to look very different.
Vanity sizing is real. Vanity sizing is a practice where clothing manufacturers assign smaller numbered sizes to larger items of clothing to boost their customer’s self-esteem and promote brand loyalty. If you find a great pair of pants that are a different size to what you typically wear, don’t refrain from buying them because of the number on the tag.
A tailor is a person who alters clothing through means such as sewing, reinforcing, and finishing. While they typically change manufactured clothing to fit your body shape, they can also create new, custom pieces using patterns and designs.
By taking your trousers to the tailor, they can adjust the fit of the waist on your jeans to make sure it fits you better and feels snug around the hips.
Tailors primarily take in garments to fit them to your particular body shape but it is possible to enlarge the waist, expand the thigh area, or lengthen the hem of the pants.
Here is a great article – particularly for sewers about pants fit.
What Guidelines to Follow When Your Body Shape isn’t “Standard”
I have definitely a few pairs lately that I really like: I like my wit and wisdom jeans and I discovered the old navy pixie ankle pants this year: both fit me really well!
I had never even thought about the fact that pants were originally designed only for men! And it makes perfect sense. I really don’t have very many problems with fit in pants…because I am built similar to a man in my hips, waist, and butt area! Tailoring is the only way to go, however, for the perfect fit. The idea that clothing off the rack will fit every body type might be the biggest scam in the consumer world! Haha. Great tips! Thanks for sharing.