23 March 2014

All the Wrong Trousers

Note: Post title references this film.

Women of the Australian Women's Army Service, 1943, via Wikimedia Commons

Late May through early September is by far my favorite time of year, not just because I like sunshine and flowers but also because the weather is typically warm enough for wearing skirts and dresses with bare legs. Not only do I much prefer the look and feel of skirts and dresses, I have a much easier time getting them to fit than I do pants and jeans. Most skirts have only to fit in the waist and possibly the hips if they have a slim silhouette. Dresses need only to fit in the bust and sometimes the waist and hips. However, pants and jeans need to fit in the waist, hips, thighs, calves, and inseam, and lately I've found it impossible to find any pairs that fit all five on me.

Since the beginning of March, I've tried on fourteen pairs of pants in a range of three sizes. I had to abandon trying on a few of them midway because I couldn't get them over my calves, but there was one issue that plagued all the pairs I did manage to button and zip: they gapped at the back of the waistband. Whether I sized down, sized up, tried a different rise, or tried a different cut, each and every pair that I put on had a span of loose material flopping over my lower back.

Numerous blog posts tell me that this is not an uncommon problem, but most people advise getting the pants professionally altered or doing a quick home fix with darts. I don't know of any good tailors and probably couldn't afford alterations anyway, and since I only sew by hand I'm not sure that my darts would hold up under the weight of twill or denim and the stress that movement would put on the seams. There are a few pants out there marketed as having no-gap waistbands, but most are expensive. Besides, I tried one such style at a local department store and still found a good three inches of extra fabric at the back of the waist.

The whole situation is very frustrating, particularly because I didn't used to have this problem. When I was in my mid to late teens, I was able to get pants to fit pretty easily. I've worn the same size from then to now, but after my failure to fit in any new pants this spring I wondered if perhaps my shape had changed, if not my size. However, trying on a couple of old pairs of jeans from my teen years proved that it wasn't my shape that had changed at all--it was, apparently, the way manufacturers cut pants.

I have a couple more styles of pants and jeans coming my way from Target.com, and I hope that the lower waist-hip ratio touted by their "curvy fit" will work for me. If not, I suppose I'll experiment with layering cropped leggings under my dresses and skirts until warm weather finally hits, and hope that manufacturers start offering more diverse ranges of pant fits by the time autumn rolls around.

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