The Curse of the 5 Foot 10 Woman

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City Dressing Essentials Wide Leg Pant

Have you ever had one of those shopping days, where you have money to burn, and can’t find anything to fit? That was me today. For once, the problem wasn’t my waistline. The problem was the length of my legs. I have written about this issue before, and today I experienced fashion frustration in full force.

Fashion expert and fellow blogger Nikki, from Styling You, wrote about feeling like fashion’s invisible woman last week. She feels that the fashion world is forgetting her as she gets older, and that brands are neglecting the demographic of the women that actually buy their clothes. Today, I donned an invisibility cloak of my own, and ventured out to the shops.

I am 5’10 tall, or 178cm. My height is in my legs, and finding trousers to fit has been an issue since I was a teenager. My work trousers are all now too big, and this week I resorted to tucking a pair of 3/4 pants into knee high boots, so as not to wear jeans or yet another skirt to work. This plan was fine in theory, until they worked their way out of my socks and puffed up so I looked like a female version of Puss in Boots. Not my finest fashion idea, but it was born out of necessity (and cold legs!).

Today, I went searching for full length work pants to see me through the chilly Winter. Last night, I did an online recce, my frustration growing as I searched. While many stores offer online purchases, only two that I looked at specifically mentioned the inseam length of the pants they were selling. How is an online shopper supposed to tell if pants will be long enough without this measurement? It appears that the brands also don’t inform their staff of these details, as when I have asked on many occasions, people don’t know what length their pants are. The only way I was going to find new pants was to go in store and try on copious amounts of clothes.

My requirements were simple, or so I thought. I wanted slim fitting pants in black or grey, that were long enough to wear flat shoes with. Not a big ask, right? Wrong! I went to no fewer than 10 shops and tried on around 30 pairs of pants. One had a pair of pants that were long enough, but unfortunately they were a strange fit (think extra fabric on hips, looking like they should be worn with braces and a peaked cap). Instead of trawling through the racks, I asked an assistant in each shop to point me in the direction of their longest pants. Most were very apologetic that they could not help me. I entered into a discussion with two ladies, who told me a retail chain used to produce pants in three leg lengths, but stopped because it was too expensive. Part of me couldn’t understand this – where are all the tall women shopping?

Eventually, I ended up at Target. We have a Target Country in my town, and I have tried on a couple of pairs of their long leg length trousers on occasion, but they’ve always been too short. Today I discovered that the length of the pants depends on the cut, and very happily walked away with a very long pair of black pants. For $20! Sure they have a wide leg rather than slim, but I decided that this beggar couldn’t be choosy.

Now, I am thankful that I found some pants today but Target consider their longest leg length to be 86cm which is 34 inches. Pants in shops specifically for tall women start at 36 inches. Why is it that shops still largely refuse to cater to tall women? Major department stores like Myer and David Jones have specialised sections for petite women, we have shops for plus size women, but why are tall women left out in the cold?

In 1995, the Australian Bureau of Statistics stated that the average height of the Australian woman was 5 foot and four inches. I would assume that these figures may have changed in the past few years, but it appears that the fashion industry may be working on out of date measurements. There has been a battle over the past few years for the outdated sizing model used to create clothes. According to Choice, the last size survey that was conducted was in 1975. The model used to design clothes is outdated, and there is no consistent sizing model across our stores. This makes it very difficult to shop, as you don’t know what size you are from brand to brand. This video from Choice explains more (my apologies, as I tried to embed the video however the link from Choice does not work. Please go to the link, and scroll down if you wish to view the video).

I have wondered for a long time what the difference between the United Kingdom and United States clothing markets are – size surveys. Both these countries seem to provide a variety of specialist clothes right across the market. Tall, petite, pregnant and short people are catered for in mainstream stores like Topshop, GAP and Dorothy Perkins. While I have visited the Topshop and GAP stores in Sydney, I found their selection of clothes from the tall range lacking.

For now, the only choices are to trawl the mall in the hope of finding something to fit, or to buy online from the few Australian retailers who cater to tall women, or from overseas. Australian retailers are already up in arms about the dip in revenue due to online shopping off shore – will a further collective of women taking their dollar elsewhere make any kind of impact?

Are you a tall woman, or do you need to shop in a specialist shop for another reason? How do you find consistency of sizing across various brands? If you have long legs, where do you buy pants that fit?

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5 thoughts on “The Curse of the 5 Foot 10 Woman

  1. Thank you for this post! It’s comforting to hear of other ladies in the same boat as me!

    I’m 5’11” and have exactly the same problem. I get pretty excited when Country Road, Saba or Witchery have pants and jeans that randomly seem to be longer than their usual stock. Thank you to the fashion gods for the current crop pant trend. I’ve been able to buy ‘regular’ length pants and pass them off as crop pants.

    My other issue is dresses. Again they’re made for shorter ladies. A dress that’s meant to sit above the knee is a mini dress on me. It would be great if retailers could list the shoulder to hem length in their online descriptions.

    • You’re welcome, Lisa! It’s so frustrating, and here in Australia it just never seems to be an important issue for retailers. I like the crop pant trend too – we’ve got to work being tall as an advantage somehow 😉

  2. Gah! How frustrating! Given that most catwalk models are tall women, you’d think there would be more fashion that caters for longer legs. I’ll keep a look out for longer pants from now on! Fi xx

  3. Pingback: Soft Clothing For The Plus Size Woman | Fashion for the Confident Woman

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