Clothing doesn’t look good on you if it doesn’t fit properly. Do you know why? Tall women have to consider the length of everything: torso, arms, rise and legs.
The best clothing is super expensive right? Buying designer clothes will ensure you have a quality garment, right? I mean if you are dropping a lot of money on the latest trend and it’s the perfect color it will be amazing. Right?
No. You have to understand fit because tall women have a different fit than average sized women. If the garment is not specifically designed for tall women it may not fit properly.
We have all done it. We try to save money by buying tops from a standard fit retailer. A T-shirt from Walmart will be fine. A blouse from Dress Barn or Maurice’s will work. Pants from Old Navy will work, most of the time.
Don’t get me wrong, if you can find the fit you want from anywhere you’re golden. Buying all of our clothing from the tall women’s store can be super pricey.
It’s not fair. We can’t help our genes. And let’s be honest, the T-shirt from Walmart will shrink and be too short, the long sleeve version is really a three-quarter sleeve in the long run and you can’t throw your Old Navy jeans in the dryer. The blouse, blazer or dress doesn’t exactly fit because of something you just can’t put your finger on but it’s fine. DO you want to know why? It’s all about the length.
Let’s look a petite sizes just for one quick second. Petite sizing is all about the length not size. Every aspect of the design has a proportional amount of consideration for where certain areas of the body will be.
Petites are shorter in torso length, rise, leg and sleeve. The bust line will be a shorter distance from the shoulder too. The designers take this into consideration when making a sloper and build everything around it.
In average sizes the length is a little longer. Tall sizes are longer still. Let’s look at it more closely.
Flat Lines and Curves
The human body has no straight lines or flat surfaces. It has to move and bend. Measurements of the body tell us where the curves are so a flat piece of fabric will fit over the curves properly. It’s taking a two dimensional object and putting on to a three dimensional form.
Please excuse my crude drawing talent but it’s one way of showing you what designers do.
There are several length measurements to consider: Arm length upper and lower, waist length front and back (yes they are different and that’s measured from the shoulder about where your bra strap would be to your natural waistline), shoulder to apex, apex to waist, shoulder to whatever.
What’s the apex? The apex is the point of your breast. We have to measure the distance from your shoulder to the apex of the bust then the distance from the shoulder over the apex to your natural waistline. Remember, the “natural” waistline is the narrow part of your torso about where your belly button is not somewhere around the hips.
Let’s go further and measure waist to high hip, waist to lower hip, waist to knee and waist to floor.
These measurements are only half of the equation however the horizontal measurements would be the same as a woman of any height. With that in mind, the greater the circumference the greater the length covering the area will be too. Your designer needs a three dimensional representation of you.
The reason this is so important is simple; when flat fabric has to be altered to fit over a curve, such as a bust line, something has to give. Usually this is done with ease, gathering or with a dart, but it has to be in correct place.
Let’s use a dart as an example. When the dart is too high or too low on the bust it will be noticeable. It may even be uncomfortable for the wearer. Technically the point of the dart will be one inch away from the apex. We do not end the dart directly at the apex of the bust line anymore. This isn’t the 1960s. But I digress.
My point is- know your measurements. You will find designers or large scale commercial garment lines that have a good fit for you or you can buy tall clothes.
Apex / Bust Line and Length
How does the apex make a good fit?
Here is another fantastic drawing by yours truly.
Everyone has a different physique. Men will not have the variations women have for several reasons but the most obvious difference is the bust line.
The length from shoulder to apex and shoulder to waist over the apex for the bust line gives a designer a guide. Where will the measurement be the largest? Where will the pattern have to be altered to fit over the fullness of the bust? This answers that question.
You can avoid this by purchasing clothing with little to no structure thereby eliminating this measurement altogether. Knits solve the problem nicely by stretching over the area but you will want a structured blouse, dress or suit at some point in your life.
The greater the bust circumference (horizontal) the longer the length measurement will be. It takes a little more fabric to go over that greater circumference. This is why we (designers) need so many measurements. It may not be much of a difference but it will make a huge difference in the fit of the garment.
Consider swimwear too. None us like a one piece that is too short in the rise.
While we are on the subject of rise, this drawing depicts how the measure that too. We talked about that in a previous post.
Shopping for the Fullest Area
We always look at size charts online or tags when we are shopping off the rack. Actually the size tags are a lie. Vanity sizing has been around a long time. The size charts can be deceiving as well. When shopping online consider the origin or manufacture. Asia has a completely different idea of what makes a Large size than we do in the United States not to mention the definition of ‘tall”. When the design and manfucaturing all comes from Asia, bless their hearts, it will not be what you are expecting.
You are shopping for the fullest part of your body. If it’s hips or bust whatever. Shop for that area. You can work from there.
Knowing the length of all your areas is a key component to a comfortable fit. If the sleeve to too short you really won’t wear the top as often. When the bodice (torso) is too short or long you won’t be as comfortable wearing the garment. Obviously short pants are out of the question and you’ll know pretty quick if the rise isn’t right.
Buy for your bust line and make sure the darts, if there are any, are in the right place; just under the bust line. If you have a bust line that is higher or lower than ‘normal’ consider that when purchasing tops.
Don’t shy away from the tailor shop for small alterations. I’ve mentioned this before, they should only have to lengthen or shorten the sleeve of pant length. If you need more than that your in trouble. They can also take in the waist because you’re buying for the hips. The tailor can do anything but will it be worth the money?
Length is Everything
I could go on about fit and I will in future posts. I want to make sure we are getting the most out of our hard-earned money by buying clothes properly for long term wear. By knowing more about the clothing industry and how it pertains to you, you can make smarter purchases.
Knowing the pitfalls of buying clothing with the wrong length is power. But it’s more than only leg length. The length of every area of your body makes a difference in comfort and appearance. When you look good, you feel it. When your clothes look good on you, the public sees that too.
Let me know if you find this helpful. I tend to get technical but it is important. Give me your thoughts with a comment on this site. I will respond in kind.
Until next time, go shopping. The seasons have changed.
Peace and love