This isn't one of the "figure flaws" they list in magazines.
August 16, 2012 11:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm just under 5'5". Unusually (I think?) for someone of average height, I have long legs *and* a long-ish waist. This is possible because the distance between my shoulders and under-arms is, apparently, according to the shirts of the world, unusually short.

I look normal enough, I think, the only problem is it's very hard for me to find shirts that fit right because they tend to have 2-3 extra inches in/around the shoulder. For example something like thisor this would probably be WAY low-cut on me, and also just have tons of extra room from the boobs upwards, front and back, even though they'd probably fit fine elsewhere.

If a top has spaghetti straps obviously I can just alter it. But for most styles, that's a lot more sewing than I'm willing to do on a regular basis. (I can sew, but I'm not at "basically taking clothes apart and reassembling them" level.) I really need some nice sleeveless (or very short-sleeved) tanks and tunics. Not super dressy, but not Old Navy cotton ribbed tanks (which I love) either. I have virtually none of these because when I try them on they almost always have bunches of extra space around the shoulder area, like I could easily stuff small pillows in there. Even if they're tight across the hips, grrr. So my question is, if anyone else has this body type, have you found any brands or stores, ideally that I could go to in the US but online is OK too, that tend to sell tops that don't require comically over-sized shoulder pads?

(One obvious answer might be "just buy smaller sized tops," but the problem is I'm not that small. I'm somewhere between pear and hourglass shaped, normally wear anywhere from a US 6 to 10, and have a 36" bust. I usually wear S and sometimes M in tops, and XS would probably be too tight, though even those sometimes have the shoulder problem.)
posted by DestinationUnknown to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total)
You might look great in those sort of roomy racer-back style tanks that are everywhere this summer. Comme ca. Et ca.

Have you looked into buying blouses and having them altered? If you can find something that fits across your shoulders and bust, and fits in the hip, you might be able to have them nipped in or have darts added. A tank with a seam at the shoulder can be brought in to fit properly in the underarm area. This is more difficult with knits - you'll want woven fabrics if you're going to try this.

It seems to me, lately, that casual knitwear is going back towards looser and more relaxed styles. You could probably get away with a loose crew neck tee or racer-back tank and just live with the extra room. Wear a cute bra under the tank, and you're fine.
posted by Sara C. at 11:28 AM on August 16, 2012

Try checking out some "petite" lines for tops. I find that they tend to run shorter in the torso and eliminate that problem of too much length in the shoulder-to-bust area.
posted by platinum at 11:37 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Or shopping at sites that offer "short trunk" shirts if petite doesn't work. I remember a few that were "long trunk" (since I'm long trunk) but I can't find them right now for the life of me.

I'm 5'4'' with weird ass legs - Average is too long and petite is too short.
posted by tilde at 11:41 AM on August 16, 2012

Ditto platinum. Also try Juniors.

Assuming you own some, what style are the shirts that fit you? The solution is probably a combination of fit and cut. Some cuts are just not going to work for you, so you have to hone in on the ones that do.
posted by Katine at 11:43 AM on August 16, 2012

I have similar issues (I alter my spaghetti strap tops too! If I didn't I'd be in constant danger of a nip-slip!) and have had some luck with petites. There's the danger that the shirt may not be long enough but styles are running really long right now so that's usually not an issue.

I also usually wear one of my slightly-altered tanks under shirts. This doesn't work well for structured things (on a button-down, often the bust darts are a couple of inches below where I want them to be) but it's acceptable to me with knits and flowy tops.

Oh, and when I wear those relaxed tops I pair them with close-fitting trousers or pencil skirts so I don't look too blowsy and/or hippyish.
posted by mskyle at 12:28 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

My sister is 3" taller than I am, all in the legs. We both wear petite sizes. Order a selection of tops in regular and petite from LLBean(free shipping to you) and/or Landsend(free returns to Sears). That should give you a good comparison.
posted by theora55 at 1:33 PM on August 16, 2012

Response by poster: Assuming you own some, what style are the shirts that fit you?

I know the styles that look good (and those that don't) it's just that it's about a 1 in 100 chance that a particular top in any of the good styles will fit, if that makes sense. It's just a question of finding the occasional one without the mega-shoulders.

But after reading these responses, I will try the petite section. I sometimes wander in there by mistake and feel like a great hulking oaf and leave, but next time I'll try some stuff on.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 7:24 AM on August 17, 2012

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