Fit, Part 2: Trousers, Skirts, Belts

Last week’s post dealt with fitting clothes on the top.  This week, I’ll cross the equator and deal with how to fit the bottom half.  During the process, I realized that I owned a few pairs of jeans that I never wear.  It’s not that they aren’t good jeans – they just don’t fit me properly.  My favorite pairs are dangerously threadbare, because I only have a couple of pairs that I wear all the time.  If I sat on a splinter, my worn out jeans might side with the splinter and decide to leave me.  Heartbreaking.  But I took this opportunity to think about what I require in a new pair of jeans and craft a plan before going to the store to look for replacements!  It’s important to have a game plan, because jean shopping can be a pretty demoralizing experience for me.

This post is in an Ashley Tries format, because I wanted to try on different shapes and think through pros and cons.  I only did one skirt, but I’ll talk through different skirt shapes and how to find a good fit.  Belts also made multiple appearances, to varying levels of success.

Monday

On Monday, I decided to tuck my shirt into my jeans.  And wear a belt.  The reason I did this on Monday:  I dreaded it very muchly and wanted to get it over with as soon as possible.  Why do I decide to do things that I dread?  I have a bad case of the Curiosity and I want to know all the things, that’s why.  Truth is, I don’t know if I had ever tried it before.  I think I just assumed it wouldn’t be a great look on me.

Guess what?  It’s NOT a good look on me.  But it is for more subtle and interesting reasons than the simplistic and unbased fears that I made up.  My basic fear before I tried it was that the look would look terrible, because it would show my stomach, which is a squishy area for me.  I’ve heard such squishy areas referred to as “problem areas”, but that term seems overly dramatic.  If one of my organs failed, I’d consider THAT a problem area.  Squishiness is just squishiness.  But I can still be self-conscious about it, because I am a human woman and I can blow things out of proportion and manufacture crises where no crises exist.

When the outfit came together, I realized it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t a great look for me for a couple of different reasons.  IMPORTANT NOTE:  This is why you need to try things on.  Fears are too general, because they are hypothetical.  When it comes to clothes, facts before fears.  Try stuff on and see if those fears are actually grounded.  When you put on clothes and look in the mirror, you will have concrete examples of what works on your body and what doesn’t.  Don’t try to forget the aspects that didn’t work, because that is important information that can save you time next time.  If you know for a fact that sheath dresses don’t work on you (because you have tried on sheath dresses and they don’t make you look fantastic), you probably won’t take an armful of sheath dresses into the dressing room next time.  If you are just afraid that sheath dresses won’t look good on you, I’m going to make you try on a sheath dress, so we can get the facts.  And don’t get discouraged if a certain style doesn’t work on you.  You are more important than that style.  The process is all about growing in wisdom and knowing your frame.

Here were the reasons that tucking my shirt into jeans doesn’t work that well for me.  Sure, the midsection looked a little lumpy, because I don’t have flat abs, but it was the overall proportion of the outfit that presented most of the problems.  I’m only 5 feet 3 inches, and even for a short person, my legs proportionally short.  Long torso, little legs.  Kind of like a corgi.  The jeans are technically high-waisted, but since my torso is so long, the waist hit at a slightly awkward not-high-not-low rise.  It was just meh.  It also highlighted just how short my legs are and made me look disproportionate from chest to hip.

So I eventually untucked my shirt and immediately felt more comfortable for the rest of the day, but happy in the knowledge that I knew what I didn’t like about it.  My curiosity was satisfied.

Tuesday

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Skirts!  Pretty and sometimes tricky.  This skirt is the simplest fit for me – the waist hits at my narrowest point, then flares out.  This is known as a “fit and flare” style.  Circle skirts also fit into this category, but have an even wider flare.  The most important aspects of fit for skirts:

  • Does the waist fit?
  • Does it fit through the hips?
  • Is it the right length?

Remember last week and the ranked importance for fit on tops?  (Shoulders, chest, waist.)  Skirts are so much less complex than tops that if a skirt doesn’t fit ALL my criteria, I won’t buy it.  If the waist and hips fit, but it is a little too long, I might make an exception, because hemming a skirt is one of the easiest tailoring jobs.  Even I can do it.  If I can do it, you can do it.  But if a skirt is too short, there’s nothing I can do to make it longer.

One of the upsides to having short legs is that short skirts don’t look as short on me.  Tall women have a much harder time finding skirts that are long enough.  But even with my short leg advantage, I have to test run how the skirt fits when I’m sitting in it.  Remember, every skirt is two skirts – Standing Skirt and Sitting Skirt.  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  If Sitting Skirt is bad news, don’t buy Standing Skirt.

The fit and flare suits my frame best, but I have a few shortish straight skirts.  I usually save them for winter, because they work well with dark tights.  In the summer, I stick to longer, breezier styles that don’t need help from tights.

With a skirt, I’ll happily wear a wide belt.  It serves no structural purpose – it is not necessary to keep the skirt on my body.  The belt is simply there to fashion up the outfit and draw attention to an already nice waistline.  Belts are either for practical purposes (to hold one’s trousers up) or for emphasis.  If you don’t need a belt to hold anything up and you don’t want to emphasize your waist, you don’t need to wear a belt.  That is entirely up to you.  I wore three belts this week and that’s three more than I usually wear.  My belts live in a shoe box like a nest of snake babies and most of them are accidental belts.  Accidental belts come attached to other items of clothing as an unnecessary add on. (“Buy this shirt dress and get a belt ABSOLUTELY FREE!”)  I usually detach the belt immediately and throw it in the shoe box.

Wednesday and Thursday

 

This is my typical warm-weather work style – fitted skinny jeans, paired with a looser top.  It’s simple and comfortable.  I added the belt to the cream top, because I was trying to wear more belts this week and I thought it would add some shape and look cute.  This is a prime example of an accidental belt – it’s a nondescript strip of green fabric that came attached to some matching shorts.  Didn’t want the belt on the shorts, because I didn’t need it on the shorts, so I took it off and threw it in the belt box.  My main use case for belts is to cinch voluminous tops or loose dresses and for this use case, it doesn’t matter whether the belt is skinny or wide.  Skinny belts are more subtle, so they are probably the more practical of the two, because you can wear one belt all the time and nobody will notice.  But if you want people to notice, a wider belt is probably going to be your thing.

Here are some reasons I like skinny jeans.  (Bear in mind, I was anti-skinny-jean for a long time and then I caved big time.)

  • They usually have a lot of stretch, because you need some give to get the skinniness over your legs.  The elasticity makes it easier to get a good fit through the waist and hip, because it will conform to your shape.
  • I don’t have to hem every pair.  Capris are full-length on me, folks.  With a skinny fit, I can just tuck any extra material inside the ankle and it will stay.  I can also cuff it on the outside and it will stay.  No pinning involved.
  • My calves are naturally toned, no thanks to me.  It’s just genetics.  I’m going to highlight those calves while I have ’em.
  • They look good with loose tops and tailored tops.  I tend to wear looser tops, so skinny jeans balance out the look.  It is possible to wear loose trousers with a loose top, but it would be more difficult to balance the look out.

Friday

Friday was the most fun, because I borrowed a pair of fabulous wide-leg jeans from my sister.  It had been so long since I had worn that fit and I wanted to try it without making a rash committment.  After a few years of skinny jeans, it felt so different and I loved them.  I actually went and bought a pair of wide-leg jeans for myself this morning.

I felt like a superhero with a swishy cape around each ankle.  I felt like a business-woman with a great work life balance.  I felt more dressy and more people commented on my dressiness, even though the outfit was a shirt and jeans.  There was also something about the extra length – with heels on, it still almost touched the ground.  I felt taller.  It’s just a testament to the how much fit matters.

The fit elements for trousers are the same as skirts, but in a slightly different order:

  • Do they fit you at your widest point?  (That is different for everybody – it can be the  waist, hips, or thighs.)
  • Do they fit at the waist?
  • Are they the right length?

These are ranked again, because the waist and hem length can be altered, but if a pair of jeans do not fit your hips or thighs, that’s a deal breaker.  You belt the waist or cuff the hem, but you can’t add more fabric.

This was a funny week, because I dreaded it more than last week’s post, but I learned so much more this week.  Just goes to show (once again) that unfounded fears aren’t the most reliable source to consult on such matters.  Be curious.  Figure stuff out, even if it means that you fail a few times in the process!  Learning is challenging, but worth it.

As always, thanks for reading!  I appreciate you.  Go be brave this week.

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