Hips don't lie- but I can't fit them into pants.
May 8, 2010 10:43 AM   Subscribe

How do I get pants, skirts and dresses that will compliment my large hipped, small waisted figure? Both chains that specialize in this and tips for what to pick so I could bring it to a tailor and anything else you've got to share are all accepted gladly.

I'm not precisely speaking a 'pear', because I have shoulders that balance out my enormous hips and behind and a reasonable bust. I'm built like the ideal of Baby Got Back, with, depending on my place in my cycle a twelve to ten inch difference between the widest point of my hips and the smallest point of my waist. The ratio tends to run 28" waist to 40/38" hips.

Thus, skirts and waistbands that can be pulled over my large hips are too loose at the waist. It's quite normal to hear seams pop, only to be able to fit both hands and maybe a small child into the waist band after they sit at the correct height. The result is that I look shapeless. I wear a lot of empire waists, even though I don't like that cut. I fill in my jeans okay, because they usually have a stretch to the fabric (though I have to hop up and down to get them on). Most shirts fit fine, though when they go over the waist they don't nip in enough and tend to bag at the stomach area, even if my C cup bust fills out a blouse nicely.

The look I admire is crisply tailored, fitted and snug. The look I can pull off involves a lot of lycra and for club wear, hot pants, even though I much prefer skirts, because if I wear a mini, my behind fills it out to the point of overflowing and sticking out the bottom. I cannot wear lycra to most jobs.

Helpful websites tell me to belt my waist, which makes my look like an “8” or try the trend for those high waisted pencil skirts that look so nice, but in the store I can’t get a skirt that fits in the waist on and a skirt that fit in the hips sits at my hips.

So where is the trove of garments tailored to my figure, or if the don’t exist, what should I buy to take to the tailor and have him take in? What else can I do?
posted by Phalene to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
The Limited has a cut of pants called the Lexie Fit that are meant to fit and flatter your body type. I would definitely give them a try.
posted by mmmbacon at 10:54 AM on May 8, 2010

I feel your pain! Try a size 12w, from Talbots or Jones New York. There are other brands that have it, but I don't know which ones.
posted by jgirl at 11:12 AM on May 8, 2010

The Lexie fit from The Limited, and Curvy fits from Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic aren't going to accommodate 10" difference between hips and waist. Honestly, you're not going to find things made to fit you with that much difference, even the "curvy" fits or places that make hips big and waists small. Your tailor is going to become your best friend.

You need to buy things that fit at your hips, and take those to a tailor. He or she will measure you, and then have you try the garment on. You'll get pinned, and the piece will be taken in at the waist. For dresses and skirts that would fit if you could get your hips in them, the answer will be removing the zipper and adding a much longer one, so you can get them over your hips.

If you find a really good tailor, and you get a few basic garments modified to fit you well, you can buy fabric and have the tailor actually copy pieces you already have, for about as much cash as you'd spend on a department store piece.
posted by juniperesque at 11:29 AM on May 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

juniperesque has it. You need to buy things that fit the widest part of your body and then get them tailored down. (If years and years of watching What Not to Wear has taught me anything, it's that.) Don't worry about the size if it's huge elsewhere or if the number seems to you to be too big. A good tailor will make it work.
posted by pised at 11:45 AM on May 8, 2010

The Lexie fit from The Limited, and Curvy fits from Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic aren't going to accommodate 10" difference between hips and waist.

I agree. The Gap's curvy fit may be a better fit than normal but with a 10 inch difference waist/hip ratio I've had to still take my waist in up to 5 inches in those jeans. Honestly, this issue is why I learned paternmaking and tailoring myself.
posted by Bunglegirl at 11:47 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

There is a great website: http://www.eshakti.com

For an extra $15 per garment, they will tailor the garments to your measurements. I order a lot from there. My one issue with their clothes is that most of them are 100% cotton and must be starched and ironed. Small price to pay for things that fit properly, though.
posted by shamash at 11:53 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh man I feel your pain, I have the same measurements, (29" waist, 41" hips) and it can be difficult, but I never call my hips "enormous." It's funny to see someone else refer to them as such. I find the curvy fit from the gap works wonderfully, so I'll have to disagree with juniperesque. I have both work slacks and jeans in that cut. They aren't high-waisted, of course, so that's part of why they work.

For high-waisted items, (pencil skirts, etc.) I buy designer on consignment and take them to a tailor. I recently got a sewing machine, and so I also alter or make my own skirts....and I am working up to making some pants. I've also done well with vintage knit wool suits, etc. In fact I find a lot of vintage clothing is designed for a more hour-glass shape, so check out some vintage clothing shops.
posted by Maude_the_destroyer at 11:59 AM on May 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

I am 5'2" and have your exact waist and hip measurements.

I wear a-line skirts designed to fit at the hips instead of the waist; I also buy pencil skirts and have them taken in at the waist. Pencil skirts designed to be worn with a belt also look great. Everyone else is right, though -- you have to buy to fit your HIPS. Don't buy TIGHT on the hips. Buy where the garment fits nicely over your hips (use your hands to pinch in the sides of the waist to see how it fits, or ask the salesperson for a clothespin -- most stores have them). Sometimes the zipper doesn't have to be removed, if you can pull the skirt on over your head.

Shirts are a big problem. I basically don't wear button-up shirts because they never fit right and make me look completely boxy. I either have my knit shirts taken in at the waist or wear them tucked into high-waisted skirts with a belt. But I'm not as busty as you, so I can buy petite shirts that aren't so long and have better shape above my hips. Even if you're not petite, try on some petite tops -- because the proportions will be shorter through the waist you might find they're more fitted through the waist on you.

I also layer a lot on the top, with cute short jackets that button right at the waist, helping to accentuate my waist. Buy jackets that fit over your bust and hit above the hips, and have them taken in at the waist by a good tailor. Cardigans are also good. Don't wear jackets or layering pieces that hang open in the front because your waist will disappear.

Pants are a bigger problem, so much so that I don't wear a lot of pants and when I do, I never tuck anything in because my waist just disappears below a baggy waist on the shirt and a below-waist waistband on the pants. (High waisted pants are out for a variety of reasons, for pretty much everyone, ever.) But when I do wear pants, I wear them with longer tops and cute jackets or cardigans.

Avoid anything that flares out at or below the knee, by the way.

As for brands, I buy a lot of skirts at Banana; I used to buy their curvy fit pants but, as I said, I just don't wear a lot of pants anymore. They've also changed the cut slightly so the pants are narrower through the thighs, which doesn't work on me -- I've got bigger thighs. If your legs are slim, though, give them a try. I also have some curvy fit jeans from the Gap, but I mostly just buy low rise Joe's Jeans now. Look at Old Navy, too -- I found that their Perfect Fit khakis fit me, well, perfectly, and I looked for khakis for YEARS before discovering that. I buy tops at places like Loft, that seem to be sized for curvier bodies -- a lot of Banana/Gap/Old Navy tops are really baggy through the waist. Avoid J. Crew, their clothes are made for people without hips or an ass.
posted by devinemissk at 12:15 PM on May 8, 2010

My poor college student method has been to buy A-line skirts that fit on my hips, and then use a safety pin to make them hang at the thinnest part of my waist. They don't look so dowdy and are a better compliment to my figure. I'm sure that a good tailor would be able to transform this into a more permanent solution.
posted by amicamentis at 1:21 PM on May 8, 2010

I've had some success selectively shrinking cotton garments. I alternate dunking the entire garment in cold water with pouring hot water on the area I'd like to be smaller, often the back waist area on pants. Generally this makes the waist small enough not to look ridiculous when belted, rather than small enough to actually fit properly. So far I've managed not to ruin anything using this little trick.

Shirts are very easy to take in, tailored waistbands with belt loops are possible but more difficult. To have pants look right, the side or rear seams need to be opened up to alter the garment to fit the smaller waistband. If you are going to try this, avoid buying pants with topstitching.
posted by yohko at 4:25 PM on May 8, 2010

I have a similar figure and measurements, and the answer is full skirts with a nipped waist. I basically live in a-line skirts. It is not the fitted and snug silhouette you prefer, but it is very cute. Depending on where your waist is, this can also solve your shirt problem; if you tuck your shirt into a skirt that is fitting well above the hips, you don't have to worry about the shirt being loose at the waist. You can also try knit sweater type tops instead of button up shirts, for more of a form fit. Silk shirts also tend to look less boxy than other materials even when they are big to accommodate chest and shoulders.
If you have an H&M in your area, I find a lot of cute skirts and tops there, and occasional pants (I wear my pants at the hips, and would expect that you would wear an 8-10 in their pants, a 6 in skirts).
One last thing you can try is looking for "wiggle" dresses in your measurements from the 50s and 60s. Since a lot of these were handmade they tend to be fairly exactly fitting, and anything you find that fits will probably fit *really* well.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:51 PM on May 8, 2010

Nthing that you need to plan to get most everything tailored.

You might enjoy this woman's blog. She seems to have a similar ratio, and she definitely wears fitted skirts and tops.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:15 PM on May 8, 2010

Same problem here -- I have a 25" waist and 39" hips. I haven't yet found a skirt that I can comfortably wear -- even if it fits at the waist and hips, it'll ride up while I'm wearing it. As for pants, I like the Editor at Express, as well as the Lexie at The Limited (although they may still require some tailoring.

I also have a couple of great short-sleeved blouses from both Express and Limited -- right now they both have a shirt called "Essential Stretch" that nips in really nicely at the waist, but is still wide enough at the hips that you can button it all the way down.

If you're after summer shorts, Old Navy has some stretch plaid shorts right now that fit amazingly well on a super-curvy body. No tailoring needed.

I find that a lower waist helps, so that there's not as big a difference between the hip measurement and the waistband of the pants. Certainly if a pair of pants has a high waistband that falls near lower boobville, that waistband is hugely gaping.

If you're good at all with a needle and thread, you can probably take in some bottoms yourself. I have quite a few pairs of pants I've altered with a couple of little V-darts on the back. If you're an untucked-shirt type, even if it's not a perfect job, nobody will ever know.
posted by themissy at 6:39 PM on May 8, 2010

I have a similar figure, and I buy almost all of my skirts and dresses here. This, however, may not be a look you like.
posted by sdn at 7:52 PM on May 8, 2010

Nthing eShakti. $15 for custom sizing AND styling (you can change the neckline, hem or sleeves) is great, plus they accept returns on custom items. They don't have a lot in the way of tailored looks, but they have a few. I just ordered a dress and was surprised at how well it was made and how fast it shipped, even for a custom size.

I would check out modemerr's perfect skirt. Since their stuff is made to order, you might be able to get a custom size. If not, order for your hips and get it tailored?

personally, I really love Stop Staring! which is supposedly sized for a "vintage figure". Their sizing might fit you well with minimal tailoring, check out their size chart (a size M is a 28 waist and a 38 inch hip). Pinup Couture also seems to have sizing that might fit you better off the rack. The naughty secretary/50s housewife might not be the look you are going for, but they do have some plain figure-flattering dresses. (Personally, I am jealous, I LOVE these clothes, but just don't have the figure for them!)
posted by inertia at 11:41 PM on May 8, 2010

I'm another buy-to-fit-the-hips-and-bust-and-take-in-the-waist person - it works great. something to look for in a dress is princess lines: that is when there are vertical seams running up the dress and over each side of the chest - these allow the dress to have a full skirt, narrow in at the waist, and have ample boob room. They are crazy flattering on a curvy figure - you can also find shirts that are hip-length with the same lines. it's good to have a smooth sweep of fabric running from the hip to under the bust - as you've noticed, cinching a curvy figure at the waist doesn't flatter it, but having your clothes tailored to accentuate your waist looks terrific.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:51 PM on May 8, 2010

ah - just looking at the links in inertia's comment - this dress has the lines I was talking about - super flattering on a curvy girl
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:06 AM on May 9, 2010

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