Style and Styling

Tall Style Challenges

Happy day, dear reader!

Back in December, I wrote about some of the style challenges petite women face when shopping and dressing! One of the very first comments on Instagram was from a follower who said that her problems are the exact opposite… So today, once again in the interest of curing grass-is-always-greener syndrome, we present, Tall Style Challenges. To help, my friend and fellow Image Consultant, Rebecca Doster of Refine Image Consulting, has added her personal take on my original notes. At six feet tall, she intimately understands the style challenges of tall women! Before I forget, dear readers, please meet the lovely (inside AND out) Rebecca!

As I said in the Petite Style Challenges post, every body variation has particular fit issues! Body Variation is not the same as shape, if you want to learn more about body shape, here’s an overview article linking to my women’s body shape posts. By variations, I mean tall versus petite, large bust or small, square shoulders or sloping. It’s these variations that can make shopping and styling any body shape a real challenge.

I’ve italicized Rebecca’s additions. She’s a smarty pants, too! You’ll see why we get along…

Too Short

Bottoms: This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s not only trouser legs that can be too short. It’s hard for a petite or regular misses size to imagine, but those trousers and jeans that need four or more inches lopped off the inseam just don’t work for the tall. That’s because it’s not just the inseam… It’s also the rise! A too short rise makes for an incredibly uncomfortable day. Also, when lower rise trousers are in, tall gals have a SUPER hard time avoiding showing the top of our derrieres when we sit, crouch or bend over. I actually have knit bands I wear over the tops of my trousers when low rises are in to help hide backside wardrobe malfunctions. You might think: If trousers are so tough, why not default to skirts? Unfortunately, skirts and dresses have their own problems. Skirts that should be professional can be scandalous. Not only can hemlines be too high, but the back split can come up ALL the way to regions you would prefer not to show when you take a step, all because the skirt is not hanging where it should. Maxi shirts are never maxi. Midi skirts are a frumpy length. Mini skirts are just “NO.” 

Formalwear is also a NIGHTMARE to shop for. You cannot add length that is not there and short dresses are just…NO!! We had to have my wedding dress custom made, even though it was one they sold in the bridal shop. Mine had to be ordered from the factory, made with my measurements. It was not easy because it was raw silk with all-over beading. Extra cost. Extra time. 

Tops: Other too short fit issues tall women struggle with? Long sleeves that hit above the wristbone, Even short sleeved tops end in an awkward spot! (YES! And t-shirts are terrible. I rarely wear then because they rarely fit.) Regular tops that look like crop tops, and empire tops that end mid breast instead of underneath the bust. And jackets? Add armholes that cut into the armpit for just a little more frustration. Another problem can be the shoulder. Sometimes, because the tall woman also commonly has a larger bone structure, the shoulder width of jackets and blouses can be too narrow.  Also, the buttons do not hit places they are intended correctly, often resulting in a bust gap. 

Undergarments: Don’t even get me started about pantyhose and tights! If you’ve ever had to wear a pair of tights with the crotch dangling mid-thigh all day long, you’ve had a taste of a tall woman’s discomfort. Knee-highs aren’t, and the heels of socks can sit on the bottom of the foot creating bulk and chafing. (Socks are also often too short and fall down in your shoe.) As for other undergarments, a bra with too short straps is another source of misery. I have a client who has a seamstress add length to all her bra straps to make them wearable.

Outerwear? The same too short issues of above carry into outerwear. Add to that jacket hoods that pull the whole coat up because they aren’t designed for a longer neck and head length. Then pop gloves into the mix and you have another layer of discomfort. Remember the pantyhose? Think about gloves with the fingers that are too short (This is the main reason I prefer mittens in the winter!), and the length doesn’t cover the wrist but stops at the heel of the hand. Both make for a chilly day!

Fewer Choices

Like the petite woman, the tall lady has fewer choices. The number of companies that make Talls is even fewer than Petites. And those choices come in a more limited color palette, often dark neutrals, which do nothing for a tall woman who wants a softer, more approachable look.

Higher Prices (OMGoodGrief!)

Many companies who make Tall clothing charge more for it. I understand the logic behind this kind of pricing, but if you aren’t charging less for the petites (since we use less fabric), you have NO reason to be charging more for the Talls! To add insult to injury, stores that specialize in clothing for tall women often cut corners and use cheaper fabrics to maximize profit. (The styles are usually quite matronly as well.)

The easiest way for a tall woman to get clothes with proper fit is to have them custom made. (This is the #1 reason I sew!) Depending on where you live, this can be extremely expensive. And yes, there are companies out there that make custom bras and undies.

Footwear

Red Satin Oriental Pattern Pump

Many tall women also have narrow or wide feet, which are a struggle to find the proper width shoe for in any size… But to complicate matters, many shoe manufacturers stop production at size 9 or 10. Those that do make larger, often switch to whole sizes after 9, which means shoes that slop. Size 10.5 or 12? Rare as hen’s teeth! I know one tall woman who gets her shoes from a shop specializing in cross-dressing fashion. The flaw? They’re not made for all day walking and wearing.  (Wearing a size 12 myself, I can honestly tell you that if a company produces a shoe in a size 12, they make VERY few per run. You are competing with cross-dressers for just about EVERY shoe out there. I have literally shopped for shoes beside drag queens. It ain’t easy!) Also, heels have to be worn with intention and confidence. You have to be absolutely okay with the added height, stares and comments. At 6 ft. tall, if I wear a 4-inch heel, I stand 6’4″, which many people find intimidating. My last boss was quite short and actually asked me not to wear heels to work because it made him feel short. It’s a struggle!

Jewelry

I would add a note about jewelry. Having a larger bone structure, we need bigger jewelry and often cannot find it. For example, I cannot get a bangle bracelet over my hand. If it is not hinged, it is not an option for me. Also, most bracelets are 7-7.5 inches. If they fit around my wrist and are able to fasten, they are often tight and unattractive, not to mention uncomfortable. Necklaces rarely hang where they are supposed to. Those lovely long necklaces that so many women wear hit me at a very unattractive place. Rings need to be in larger sizes as well. Our heads and faces are larger, thus hats and sunglasses need to be bigger. I can hardly find a hat big enough to fit. Even most baseball caps tend to be short in the crown, making them hit too far above the ear , looking quite awkward. 

Thank you for doing this post and bringing light to the struggle. If you are with me and someone says, “Oh, you are so lucky you are tall!” you will understand the weird look on my face. For a girl who LOVES fashion, the struggle is real!

But I still really love being tall! 🙂

So how about you? Are you on the tall side, with Rebecca? The petite side, with me, or in the blessedly average range heightwise (5’4-5’8)? I know! Even the blessedly average has fit issues! That’s because we aren’t fit models. Do let me know in the comments below. And please make sure you visit Rebecca!

Stay safe, sound, sane and stylish!


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