Fashion 101 for the Tall and Clueless
September 24, 2011 8:03 PM   Subscribe

How can a tall 20-something female become fashionable on a budget?

Help me, Metafi-ites! My outfits are utterly plain, and I'm looking for tips on how to become more stylish while flattering my tall figure. I don't know much about what's in or what you have to worry about when you're putting an outfit together since I get overwhelmed with all the choices and information out there. Trying to have more fun with clothing being a young n' single grad student! My daily outfit consists of a solid color cotton or button down shirt, black or khaki shorts/capris/jeans, and flip flops or ballet flats. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Here are my three constraints:
1) Budget. I don't have much to spend. I typically shop at TJ Maxx and Marshalls, and Target/Gap and J Crew sales and outlet stores.

2) Funky measurements. I'm 6' tall with a long inseam and pear shaped figure. Size 6/8, 34" inseam, and have broad shoulders, flat stomach/small waist, wide hips and a proportionally large booty n' thighs. Lately all the tees I've tried on in stores have looked too long on me, but I'm not sure how long a shirt is supposed to look...

3) Keepin' it classy. Nothing too flashy or revealing - gotta look professional!

Fashion tips to flatter the amazonian figure, stores to shop at, wardrobe staples, little tricks for jazzing up/combining the same pieces/adding cuteness are all welcome. Please and thank you!
posted by sunnychef88 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I feel your pain!I'm 6'1 and self described as curvy, closer to a US size 12. My aunt (who is 6'3) and I love to shop at Long Tall Sally (formerly tall girls) when I am in the states and its awesome! Stuff there fits really well, and lasts a long time. It is more expensive than somewhere like Target, but they quite often have sales and are great for building a basic professional wardrobe. Maybe see if there is a location near you?

I also loves scarves for dressing up an outfit. Cheap, easy, and generally awesome. For fashion ideas, I like Academic Chic and What Would A Nerd Wear for some ideas on dressing as a grad student on a budget.
Good luck!
posted by snowysoul at 8:13 PM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm a guy but I'm a tall guy, found Eddie Bauer about a fifteen years ago; they sell everything in their stock also in a tall size, usually just a couple of bucks more. You've got to pick your spots with EB, lots of their clothing is dork city, but if you're patient, over time you can find a few items, or I sure have. Pretty good quality, not as good as it once was -- jeans now fall apart fairly fast, they used to wear like steel. Overall, a place to keep an eye on.
posted by dancestoblue at 8:41 PM on September 24, 2011

Best answer: Hey! I'm a 5'10" lady with the exact inseam (34"), and I also feel your pain. I actually write a blog about what I wear to work, with the mission to not shop for one whole year. You should look through to see the kinds of things I wear. FWIW, I work in a research lab (psych/neuro) at the University of Pennsylvania. My favorite places to shop are J. Crew, H&M, Gap, and eBay. I guess I tend to buy basics (black blazer, gray blazer, gray pants, black pants, etc) and spice it up with details. Feel free to memail or email if you want to chat about fashion!
posted by two lights above the sea at 9:12 PM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am fan of Ann Taylor Loft trousers -- the Julie style is very booty-friendly, and most styles come in a tall length that, I think, has an inseam around 36".
posted by pantarei70 at 9:15 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

On a budget, Target sells jeans that are way too frickin' long. Like, even the "short" inseam is too long for me, and I'm 5'5". So maybe this would work out for you?
posted by stoneandstar at 9:30 PM on September 24, 2011

I keep posting before I'm finished-- I am putting in a word for thrift stores. I'm on a very tight budget, personally, but all of my favorite clothes come from thrift stores. You know how sometimes you buy a new sweater because it looks so cool in the store, but take it home and never wear it? This never happens at thrift stores, for some reason. And there's the thrill of the hunt. (This is more suited to casual-dressy outfits than professional outfits, granted.)

Personally I like the way pear-shaped ladies look in low-rise jeans/pants with a more bootcut (rather than skinny) leg. I second scarves. And an easy way to dress up an otherwise plain outfit is with cute dangly earrings. I find a lot of cheap jewelry that doesn't look cheap at Target and, weirdly, Wal-Mart. Forever 21 has a lot of layering t-shirts that are actually cut well (this is where a store like Target falls down, imo). A nice leather belt is also a good investment. Personally, I spend ~$100 on my shoes, ~$20 on my scarves and jeans, and usually <$10 on my shirts, sweaters and jewelry (thrift stores!).
posted by stoneandstar at 9:39 PM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Keep your solid colored tops and jeans and add style with outerwear and accessories. For Fall look for a stylish leather jacket, current shoes, boots and handbag. A stylish leather jacket can jazz up a many boring basics. If you're against wearing leather check out pleather or something like this, that has the same vibe. Accessories and layering are what make outfits look stylish. You don't have to overdo it but you must accessorize. Soft over-sized cardigans, blazers made of knitwear, classic blazers, and ponchos are also on trend and will give you that extra layer that adds style.

Notice how Kate Beckinsale has on very basic pieces in these photos (black leggings and t-shirts) but looks very fashionable because of her outerwear, killer boots, sunglasses, and on trend handbags.

Since you are on a budget I would work hard to fill in gaps in your current wardrobe. You can do it with the stores you have listed. Buy staples (trousers, blouses, skirts, sweaters, blazers and jackets) in neutral colors. Add pizazz by purchasing trendy and more colorful items (embellished tanks, t-shirts, scarves, colored jeans, costume jewelry) at stores such as H&M and Urban Outfitters, TJMaxx, etc.

I tend to become overwhelmed as well. Because I am easily overwhelmed when it comes to shopping and putting together stylish outfits I save images that appeal on a file labeled "fashion" on my computer. One example I have saved is this image of Halle Berry. It is a very simple but stylish outfit. All of these pieces (black henley, blue jeans, nude pumps, cool belt, animal print clutch, gold necklace) are easily found for less. I am tall so I probably would buy a lower heel but you get the gist. This is a very simple look but there are plenty of websites that will give you outfit ideas and inspiration. Here are some:

Chiara Ferragni on

Budget Babe



I asked a question about fashion bloggers and got great answers.

I find inspiration on the above sites. I am older than Hillary Duff but I loved these boots she is wearing in this photo. I found some that are nearly identical for less at Zappos. I could probably find them for less if I hunted the stores.

Start looking for images that appeal to you. Save them. Read fashion blogs and fashion magazines. Try to copy some looks. Try on some clothes you wouldn't normally wear. Buy a couple current trends cheaply. Experiment.

Find inspiration on YouTube:

FleurDeForce has videos that shows her fashion purchases. Here is her latest video showing her purchases from London Fashion Week.

Here is an outfit of the day video from FleurDeForce

hrhcollection also does outfits of the day

Find Inspiration in books:

I checked out Who What Wear by Hillary Kerr and Katherine Powers from the library and ordered What to Wear, Where by the same authors a week ago. What to Wear, Where has good reviews and takes the guesswork out of deciding what you should wear to certain occasions.

There are many other books on fashion and style that you can check out from the library. Tim Gunn's first book and Kendall Farr's books are helpful for putting together a core wardrobe.

Good luck.
posted by Fairchild at 9:58 PM on September 24, 2011 [6 favorites]

Pear shaped women should never wear khakis. Lower rise brown, black and navy boot cut pants- those are your friends.
posted by fshgrl at 10:31 PM on September 24, 2011

My fashionista cousin loves H+M because she can get so much there for such a good value. It's not the best quality, but nothing is if you're looking for cheap.

You could also try getting a couple pairs of Express jeans. They run tall (at 5'7" I can't wear them) and are good quality so they will last. Investing in a few key pieces is important. You could also get some nice tailored pants from them. The reason I recommend them is that you'll get a very flattering and youthful fit in all their clothes.

I also like New York and Co. They have a ton of sales, and if you shop in their clearance section, you can get stuff at very low prices. Again, they have good quality, are very stylish, and have flattering cuts. Also you can ask the salespeople, who will give you good advice and may be able to suggest certain pieces that would be appropriate for your frame.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:50 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Empire waist dresses, skirts, cinched jackets - any of these pieces will add some style and show off your small waist. This summer's maxi dresses were a godsend. As a mid-height pear, I find these elements far easier to deal with than pants. If you do want pants, however...

Try REI - it is pear-friendly, since I think their women's clothing dept. caters to the 30+ crowd, and they have good clearances. The clothes are more stylish than you would expect, and they're good quality. Finally, the pants definitely tend to run long there! Sign up for a coop membership and you are in for life, no annual fee, and you get a 10% discount on all purchases for a calendar year, mailed to you in the new year as a "dividend."

Also, Old Navy if you are on a tight budget. Not good quality but it will do in a pinch. I gained some weight and found a couple pair of linen cargo pants for $20-$25 apiece.

Seconding recommendations of H&M, consignment, and thrift stores. I have had no luck at Target, Express, or the Gap other than for shirts, but YMMV.
posted by Currer Belfry at 7:25 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for the recommendations! I do have a problem finding shirts that aren't too long. Most tees seem to go way past my belt loops these days!

Is there a particular style I should look for?
posted by sunnychef88 at 8:39 AM on September 25, 2011

I'm 5'9" and tend to have some trouble finding pants that I can wear with heels. My solution? Victoria's Secret. Seriously. Almost all of their pants come in a 34 inseam and a lot of them even come in 36. They are a bit more expensive than Target would be, but not at all unreasonable, especially since their pants and jeans tend to be pretty decent quality. Tons of different cuts and rises, too - I would be willing to bet you'll find something that really works for you.

You should also try their tops if you like them not-so-long. Personally, I like my tops to be longer, and I have several VS tank tops and T-shirts that I think are too they may be just the thing for you! They are also EXTREMELY cheap, and I've had a couple $10 tank tops from there last a good 3-4 years and still look perfectly fine.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 8:52 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

This season, I've found that Eddie Bauer and the Gap have pretty reasonable t-shirt lengths, but then I'm aiming for just past the top of my hips rather than my belt loops, so ymmv. It does seem that longer shirts are the trend at the moment.

Definitely look into accessories. If you're not already into big, bold pieces, don't be afraid of them. Picking up some cheap pieces to see what you like is a good way to start, but don't be afraid to spend more on things you love - you will get enough use out of them to justify the expense. I've been on the hunt for brooches lately to dress up shirts and jackets, and I'm finding them lots of fun.

How do you feel about skirts? Finding the right length might be a bit of a challenge at your height, but I find skirts offer a variety of "moods" that are harder to manage in pants. In cooler weather, colored or patterned tights with a skirt are a cheap and easy way to add some personality to an outfit. Skirts are also great for showing off cool shoes and boots. Having broad shoulders, you've got more options than narrower pear-shaped women, as you don't have to worry as much about volume around the hips throwing off your silhouette.

Shoes go a long way toward influencing the look of an outfit. If you're not comfortable in heels, there are still plenty of shoe options beyond flip flops and ballet flats.
Flat boots
, oxfords, mary janes (okay, that's a low heel, but a manageable one), loafers, slingbacks (low wedges are also very wearable). You get the idea. I'm practical enough that most of my shoes are black, but when I fall in love with a shoe that fits well and is a fun print, color or texture, I buy it because I will find a way to wear it, and enjoy wearing it.
posted by EvaDestruction at 8:58 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

« Older Using context to get more things done?   |   Should i get a dog sled? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.