15 October 2008

When Did Women Stop Having Waists?

A burning question has been etched in my mind lately:

When did clothing companies stop designing for REAL women's bodies???

I know, I'm deep like that.  But let me just start this little rant with the fact that I have spent almost $150 in the past 2 months having my clothes tailored.  That's $150 I no longer get to spend on groceries.  I sure hope Thanksgiving produces lots and lot of leftovers...

I am a very averaged sized girl--5'3 and a size 4.  My body is proportional, i.e. my bottom half matches my top half just fine.  I even got all techie and posted a picture so you can see for yourself.  However, I can't find one damn thing that fits!  I have been blessed/cursed with a "woman's shape," i.e. I have breasts and hips and a small waist LIKE A NORMAL WOMAN.  Apparently, this makes me ineligible for 90% of the clothing on today's racks.  

I recently bought the cutest little suit--black tweed with tiny hints of bright colors, fitted skirt with big buttons, and the most darling little swing jacket with 3/4 sleeves.  It screams "wear me to interviews at non-profits!!!"  I love it.  However, it was a large part of that $150 tailoring bill.  Some women would have just passed on the little suit, claiming it didn't fit (C. is like this--if it doesn't fit off the rack she won't buy it.  C. is also shaped like those girls on ANTM).  What bothers me is that the suit DID fit, minus the fact that the waist was as wide as the hemline.  I hope you're thinking, "WTF?" because I certainly did.  In fact, EVERY SINGLE SUIT I tried on had the same problem.  And it wasn't that I was looking at cheap suits.  We're talking lawyer-sized budget (with a little help from Mom) priced ensembles for my first year of big-girl work.  For the past few years, almost every pair of pants, skirts, or especially dresses I've tried on have been the same size from bust to hips--straight.  Now how many women are actually shaped like a deck of cards?!  I would love to know how much money I've spent in the past year alone getting pants/skirts/dresses nipped in at the waist (we won't even go into hemming...).

However, any time I try on a vintage dress or skirt, it almost always fits perfectly.  It's nipped at the waist but allows room for my bosom and hips.  Vintage dresses are generally well-proportioned for my shape.  I've always said that I was born 50 years too late, and maybe this is the proof in the pudding.  Have women's bodies changed shape over the decades?  Or are designers just getting lazy and selling the same stuff they slap on their models?  Why can't I find ONE DRESS that is fitted at the waist???

I can only draw 2 conclusions from my little rant:
1. I'm so glad my mom just bought a nice sewing machine so she can start doing the dirty work!
2. Clothing companies only want to design for the "tall-skinnies."  My shape is "out" and boy-like bodies are in.  For women. 

Not trying to enact systemic change in the fashion industry, just try to blow off some steam and find some good work attire.  I have always been proud of my curves, and I've never had complaints from the fellas.  I wish designers would take a survey of what real women are shaped like and design for the rest of us.  

16 comments:

claire said...

thank you for the antm compliment, though it is not true. however, i will not buy clothes off the rack if they don't fit. that is completely true. for some reason it never occurs to me to go to a tailor! plus i'm just used to things being not long enough, as i'm sure you're used to things being too long. sigh.

Katie said...

when you're shaped like me, you learn at the tender age of 16 that a good tailor is your best friend.

not to mention, "shaped like me" means AVERAGE. double sigh.

heather said...

This is quite a challenge for me as well, as I have dramatic curves myself. Since I am 5'7, and fairly long-waisted no less, I have found that there is No Way in Hell that I can wear 90% of the dresses available. The waist comes up under my boobs like some sort of sick Empire-waist joke...

I have found that for girls with grown-up curves, Banana Republic (and, I've heard, Armani Exchange) is just off limits. No good can come of their suits, which are cut for mutants and pre-pubescent boys. I hate to go so dreadfully mom-ish, but Ann Taylor has good suiting options for real women. So does Ralph Lauren. My mom is petite and curvy and does really well with both these labels' petite suits; I have done really well with both brands too, and find that they can be "mixed up" to look less middle-aged.

When you want to go ultra-conservative, Brooks Brothers does a good fit as well. I have a three-season gabardine from there that is so perfect for interviews and big meetings.

Sorry that I don't have more chic or boho options, but these are tried and true favorites that have worked for me for a decade now....

Mandy said...

I am tall and curvy. Which means once I find something that works, I buy it in every color they have.

Lauren said...

And all of God's people said, "AMEN!"

Moreover, when did women stop having a bustline? I realize I'm generously proportioned in that area, but damn. Everything I try on gaps or stretches or looks downright indecent. I've all but given up on button-down shirts; in order to keep them from looking indecent in the chest, I have to buy a size that dosen't fit anywhere else.....

PS, your suit sounds ADORABLE. Post pictures once you get it back from the tailor!

Katie said...

heather,

i have recently discovered ann taylor petites, and it is HEAVEN. a blessing from the sky! thank jesus! my christmas list looks like this "the biggest gift certificate from ann taylor you're willing to give me." :) and ann has been a little trendier lately and not quite so mom-ish.

Banana (although I love their style) and BBrothers is DEATH for me. I have a very short "rise," and BB pants come up to my boobs. For serious.

I've also discovered Sanctuary pants, which are great but need to be hemmed (obviously).

Even with these happy discoveries, I still have not been able to find ONE.DAMN.DRESS at any store that fits of the rack. Can't we get a subsidy for our tailoring bill???? I'm almost positive I am single-handedly paying my tailor's kid's tuition to Collegiate...

LucieLu said...

Kate, you are too short to be average :) Sorry, you know I have to make short jokes.

I am super tall (well not as tall as C.) but also very curvy. Let's face it, I have ass for days and some big old boobs. But my waist has survived a baby and remains small.

Point being I am another person that cannot find cloths that fit. If it fits me in the ass, the waist is huge. If they are long enough the size is way too big, so on and so on.

Vintage dresses are amazing.

Heather - I like Ann Taylor :)

I think the fact of the matter is you need a good tailor and you simply have to budget that cost in to what you buy

Katie said...

and Lauren--i am convinced I am known as the office hootchie, as my blouses always gap at the bust. :( camisoles are my BFF.

Jess said...

I am totally pear-shaped--small chest, small waist, giant hips and ass. And I have this problem too. It's one reason I love my wedding dress--it has corset ties, so it shows off my waist. I'd almost forgotten I had one, what with the ridiculously poor cuts of most of today's clothes. The high-waist belted trend is my friend, though.

Anonymous said...

I'm tall and shapeless, so this suit sounds awesome. I'm pretty much the same width from my chest to my waist to my hips. Boy shaped if you will. It's no pleasant walk in the park, not having hips. Maybe I would have a tiny stomach if I didn't like beer so much.

Katie said...

jess--YES on the belts. sheer genius. that's my new strategy for saving $ on tailoring...i just suck those baggy dresses in with big ol' belts!

allthewine--i use reverse logic--i justify my intake of cookies and fried chicken as a "natural" way to keep my boobs big. :) if you're a tall-skinny, this suit would look great on you!!! jealousy, jealousy!

Anonymous said...

Happened to wander over -- enjoyed reading this post! I have problems finding clothes that fit right too, and my size isn't anything abnormal (just a little bit on the plumper side). You're right - clothes that are designed today aren't created with a real woman in mind; they are created for models and the stick-figure look that has suddenly become the rage...

Becca said...

you are too thin to be average you skinny b*tch!
just kidding...but not really.

banana dresses fit me perfectly - i even order them online (i do the same w/J Crew) b/c they fit great all the time. then again, i am 5'8 and have a big booty (seriously, you could serve iced tea off of it) and a normal bust.

i just wrote all that about banana dresses fitting perfectly b/c i am jealous of all your cute anthropologie clothes. sorry. but it is true.

my friend sarah has an ass that would put mine and lucie's to shame (and that is some serious ass). she is very petite up top, and she has fabulous style - but about 5 years ago she began making her own clothing line - called sarah maclane, and now she is a designer. i have some of her pieces.

Becca said...

another big problem w/suits and pants today is the "low rise" phenomena. people, tragically, stopped wearing dress clothing that fits them properly. Luckily, man kid has Tim Gunn to help us get back on track. On his show, this is one of his #1 issues with people. I am guilty of this w/dress pants, b/c I feel like if I wear them correctly, w/the waist where it should be, everyone will point and laugh at my ginourmous hips. i know, my life is so hard. i am accepting donations.

thanks for bringing up a topic so clearly on everyone's minds!

Katie said...

Well Becca, you know I only worry/write about the truly important things! What election???

And low-rise...one of my major wardrobe problems is that I have an incredibly short "rise." As in, I buy low rise jeans and they look normal. But I am ALL about the dress-pants-sitting-on-real-waist phenomenon. Lu and I recently went shopping and were blown away by how much slimmer we looked in high-rise pants/jeans. Back to the vintage clothes fitting better argument. Of course, I buy "sits slightly below the waist pants" and they are high rise!

legaleagle2009 said...

OH my goodness...I feel your pain. I too have the hips and butt wider than the waist...which produces an oh so sexy gap at the back! Ha!

So...imagine my surprise when pregnant clothes all have elastic waists!! YAY! Right?? Oh no...they make them in two hem lengths...really short (not me) and really tall (also not me).

I have another maternity clothes gripe...since when was is appropriate for mothers-to-be to show the WHOLE world their boobies?? I mean, cleavage is great, but I am generally looking for demure, not sex pot :D Hehe...anyway....

On regular clothes...my thoughts are...if you make clothes to fit a box then those who don't fit can tailor them...otherwise, they would have to make clothes that fit apple, pear, box, etc. So basically they are lazy. Yup...forget about making clothes to fit real women. Sigh...I believe barbie would have had a fit! :D

I really hope you post a pic of the suit because it sounds FABULOUS!