Thursday, June 08, 2006

June 8th, 2006: Is it really a small world after all?

This blog is a copy of the letter I sent in response to a TWO PAGE article in the Houston Chronicle today, that was written by Joy Sewing (really!) and Mary Vuong, about how there has been a slight reduction in the availability of petite clothing lines and styles in stores.
And the difficulties endured by the vertically challenged.

You may see the article at:

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/style/3947823.html

(Warning: You might want to get your flame resistant outfit on for this one…or at least a sun dress to help you stay cool)

Hello Joy and Mary;

I have really enjoyed your columns in the past, and always look forward to seeing your byline!

I read your article today about the reduction in Petite clothing lines carried in area stores.

I especially noted this comment:

"To get what they wanted, many petite women had to buy misses size clothing and spend more to have them tailored".

May I offer a simple response: Give. Me. A. Break.

My world is like this:

As a tall woman, in order to get ANYTHING that really fits, I, like most TALL women, have to have clothing custom made.
Because, of course, it is not possible to find something, and to make it LONGER all over!

I have NOT found ANY store (Dillard’s, Macy's, Ann Tailors, Neiman Marcus etc etc) with an area, or designer just for TALL ladies. Tall ladies, as myself, and my daughter, and many, many of my friends. Those of us who range in height from 5'9 (like me) to 6'3 (like my friend).

We tall women all have experienced what it is like to need:

pants
skirts
dresses
suits
swim wear
underwear (really!)
blouses,
and shoes

that will cover our perfectly proportioned bodies. We have gone shopping, found nothing that fit, and walked away with our money unspent, and our bodies lacking stylish garments for work or for play.

Then there is the factor of "insult to injury":

Often while we shop, the sales people and random customers accost us, saying such insensitive things like:

Wow, you are REALLY tall! How tall are you? I can't believe how TALL you are! How did you get to be so tall? Oh, look at how Tall that woman is... etc etc etc.

And those are the more tactful comments.

We hear these comments. We are not necessarily deaf.
We are merely tall, not by choice, but by some genetic design for which we were not consulted.

Occasionally we get told how "lucky" we are, because, the petite person says, "We short people always have to have our clothes hemmed up!"

If only it was a simple as that.

If only the "shorty" doing the "pity me" trip would give us "talls" some sympathy when we explain that hemming "down" is not an option for us. The concept of not being able to make a cuff longer just seems eludes them.

Maybe they just have petite brainpower as well?

To soften the pain after these experiences, we sometimes (but not often) lower ourselves, and likewise loose our manners. We walk around petite sections of stores with our platinum cards held aloft, while saying:

"What happened to all these little tiny people? Did they not eat right as children? Or was it a birth defect? Gosh, look at how runty they are! Look how shrimpy that one is! If you don't mind me asking, how short ARE you? I've never seen anyone a short as you before...".

And we ask the sales person, loudly: "Where is the area for normal sized people like me? The Missy section appears to be cut undersized. Such and such designer must be trying to cut corners and make his/her line cheaper. They just don't fit!"

We are constantly explaining to sales persons: Are you aware that being tall is not just a matter of having an outfit made longer? Our shoulders are wider, our torsos are longer, and our arms and busts sit higher on our body.

This means that a regular size 12 full length formal straight gown will become tea length on us, the "walking slit" in the back will open to display our lower buttocks, and the princess seam in front goes IN at the bust line and OUT just above it!

Which is why my 6 ft. tall then size 8 daughter COULD NOT enjoy the experience of trying on prom dresses. Strapless gowns had waists that fitted around her ribs!

And why shopping for a wedding gown began with "will this designer work with me, for a torso needing to be 4 inches longer than standard?"

Unbelievably, most designers will not make that option available for all styles of bridal gowns.
Even if the gown is "custom" ordered, at a sizable additional cost.

(I am resisting the temptation to write entirely in screaming capital letters!)

Please, please, please Joy and Mary. Do an article on how so many of us live in "fashion land". Take a 6 ft tall, long torso businesswoman, or nurse, or teacher out on a shopping trip to buy:

Slacks (One store actually does carry longer torso, longer length pants. See if you can discover which one!)
Swim wear (L L Bean and Lands End carry longer torso in their catalog)
Long sleeve blouse ( JC Penny Tall catalogue provides basics)
Formal gown
Business suit with skirt

Find out which "Famous Name" designer stores have a few Tall sizes in catalogs. You just need to pay the shipping, both ways if it doesn't suit!

Now I do realize that it is slightly cheaper to make petite clothes. An inch less here, and inch less there really adds up. So designers must profit from that.

BUT...the plus size, or woman's clothing usually are the same price or just slightly higher (a buck or two at most...) as typical missy sized items, so I really can not buy the argument that tall sizes are just too expensive to produce. A tall size 12 surely takes less fabric than a size 24!

Well Joy and Mary, thank you for reading my rant. I hope you are able to share the pain that we tall people feel, and understand where I am coming from. I can't wait to see what you do in your column about shopping and fashion for us tall or model sized gals!

(Whew. I know my petite friends are cheering me on, right? I know it really is difficult to get clothes to fit when you are petite, and I feel your pain as well!)

Note added June 26th: Joy Sewing DID respond, as follows:

I appreciate your comments. My mother is 5’ 10” and has much difficulty finding clothes, especially pants, that fit. (I am just 5’5”.) I listen to her ranting all the time. I would like to do a piece in the future on styles for tall women and women with large feet. I really do understand. Thanks again.

Joy Sewing, Fashion Writer/Columnist
Houston Chronicle
801 Texas Avenue,
Houston, TX 77002
713-362-7371 office

2 comments:

Tamara Hauge said...

Thank goodness for mail order or I would never be able to find anything affordable to wear. I'm not even that tall, but have long legs and can't buy anything off the rack. The most annoying thing to try to find is workout clothes. I would like to find a long length work out pant that is gathered at the waist, not the skin tight yoga pants that ride up your you-know-what. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so. And who needs to work out the most....the skinny, perfect model types who can wear the skin tight yoga pants, or the types like me, who need to shed a little of the padding that so generously surrounds my midsection? Work out clothes seem to be designed for those who don't need to work out, ha ha ha. End of rant. Thank you.

Tamara Hauge said...

Thank goodness for mail order or I would never be able to find anything affordable to wear. I'm not even that tall, but have long legs and can't buy anything off the rack. The most annoying thing to try to find is workout clothes. I would like to find a long length work out pant that is gathered at the waist, not the skin tight yoga pants that ride up your you-know-what. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so. And who needs to work out the most....the skinny, perfect model types who can wear the skin tight yoga pants, or the types like me, who need to shed a little of the padding that so generously surrounds my midsection? Work out clothes seem to be designed for those who don't need to work out, ha ha ha. End of rant. Thank you.