Some Small Sense

Shopping experiences and store reviews by a very petite woman. Indeed, it sucks. 4'10", 87 pounds, and full grown - is it a surprise I have trouble finding clothes?

June 15, 2006

Spontaneous commiseration at Talbots

"You know, someone really needs to do something about this. There's nothing available for petite women in their 40s - especially if this keeps up!"

Susan, a 40-something shopper, told me this while we were commiserating about our shopping woes in Talbots a few days ago. I had struck up a conversation with her after the salesperson had informed me that Talbots has never made size 0P clothing, and suggested that I check some of the department stores, as Ann Taylor had stopped selling petites - untrue! Susan chimed in at this point because she was worried about what she'd heard. I reassured Susan that no, it hadn't stopped selling petites, but filled her in with what the Times had mentioned about the disappearing petite sections in department stores.

Even though she was fuller than me (she told me she was about a size 8P), she has the same exact problems I do because she is also quite short - 4'11". Nothing fits her correctly - the armholes are too big, the rise too long, and jackets are made for someone longer in the torso. In short, the proportions were all wrong for our height. She mentioned that she often shopped in Lord & Taylor, as they also had a petites department. I replied that I don't really shop in department stores as they usually start at sizes too big for me - and I didn't like the styles. When I mentioned that the bulk of my clothing came from from Banana Republic, she was astonished - she never knew they had a petite line! She promised to check it out.

We wished each other luck with our shopping trips as I left. Well, I thought, the Talbots trip was a disaster for me, but at least I was able to point someone else in the right direction!

It really is hard for older short women to find appropriate clothing (well, I guess that's true for any sized older woman too). At least 20 or 30 somethings can still get away with shopping in teen stores! What do you do when you can't spend a fortune to look tasteful for your age? Have any thoughts? Susan and I would love to know.

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Anonymous Anderkoo said...

You haven't reviewed Kids' Gap yet. A lot of my shorter female friends seem to get a lot of mileage out of that place -- apparently they even have quasi-professional clothing?

Brooks Brothers carries a boys line for prep-school kids, but at 5'5" I seem to just make the cut for adult sizes. 30/30 pants (rare) and 36S jackets (rarer) fit me OK.

Maybe the question for professional women would be where prep-school girls shop?

June 18, 2006 2:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, I remember the size 0P, but at 36, 4'11", 115 lbs and somewhere between a 2p-10p on any given sizing chart and/or label. I grow wearing of shopping. Yet, being a late-career-bloomer, I find that I have to drudge through the never ending maze of petite sizing charts, not-so-cheap-75%off-sales, and consignments stores galore.

Sag Harbor leaves me looking like someone squashed me down on the top, and the pants/skirts are a nightmare with 40" hips and 26-27" waists...... Liz fits my bottom faily well, but the jackets are too bulky and long, according to Petite Sophisticate I'm a size 12!! No-one who is 4'11" wants that size in their closet. And I get completely tired of hearing my taller friends say "I wish I weighed 115". (Squash it down honey, and watch it spread out and it don't look THAT great!) What to do?

I literally carry a tape measure with me to stores, just to true-size in department stores....gets looks from the staff, but the petite women trying to shop too are always borrowing my tape measure;-)

I'm short,curvy and sick to death of petite clothing made for a range of height , ie; 5'-5'5". No offense intended to you taller petites, I know that what fits me will make your ankles cold, but nothing that fits someone 5'5" will ever make me happy, even after alteration, because first you have to convince yourself that image in the department store mirror will be better if you just whack off 6 or so inches from the bottom of those maybe-they'll-work-slacks.

I went the short route (if you will) when I found myself on the job market....the best deal I found? Dillards Petite section.....but, the waistline on the pants was so hign it cut into my ribcage AND they were 3.5 inches to long, the jacket; buttoned right between my breasts (which made the lapel buckle out) and struck me right below the rib-smashing pants...YUK!
So my deal wasn't a deal at all.

What I find with most stores is that the Petite-Section-Buyers must be about 90 years old with no sense of style and everyone who's short must require elastic waistbands. If I wanted to dress like my mother, I'd borrow her clothes!

I stick to shopping by brand, order a lot from catelogs and online suppliers, do an almost equal amout of exchanging and just tell myself this is my burden, can't change it, just have to bear it.

I tried the 'teen shops'...whoa what a day that was! Between the teen salesgirl and the wind whisltling down the back of my pants while she told me they had some great heels that would take up the length and after all everyone is wearing them where they drag the ground, I wanted to scream!

I've thought of opening a shop for petites....maybe I should. If Dockers can make pants that will fit a man who's a 29X29 or Levi's can make jeans 36X29, then surely women's designers can make pants/skirt/slacks/shirts and pantyhose for women who are, yes, short, shorter and shortest while sporting curvy hips, shorter waistlines and shorter (not necessarily smaller) arms.

And what's up with the big-momma stores, the big-and-tall-for-men, when short women, regardless of age, style or financial status all have to take two things shopping with us....Excedrin and a flask!!!, because you know some of the buyers for fashion had to be drunk to decide that 5' and 5'5" were the same height!!

Short and cury,

June 18, 2006 10:48 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Even I have not gotten brave enough to walk around with a tape measure in plain sight - particularly places like Saks or Bergdorf!

No one wants to be a size 12, but is any better when clothes are accurately labeled for a 30" waist? That's one of those things I can never quite get...petites or hard to find sizes would probably be more willing to buy true to size measurements, but is it generally considered undesireable?

The whole issue with pants is why I've started to buy a whole lotta skirts. The hem length isn't as critical, and the inseam more forgiving.

Texas Short and Curvy, I sympathize, as you probably don't have a lot of options when most of the population is quite tall where you live. But maybe that's just a New Yorker making assumptions.

June 26, 2006 3:19 PM  
Anonymous angie said...

texas indeed is an incredibly all state. i don't know if there are official statistics but my girlfriends and i agree that average height for women in dallas in probably about 5ft7. a nightmare for someone 4ft10 like me.

April 01, 2007 10:46 AM  

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