Do not congratulate me. I'm just fat.
March 12, 2013 6:24 PM   Subscribe

Where do I find clothes that fit and don't make me look pregnant?

Maybe I'm the only woman shaped like this, but I hope not. I'm tall (6ft) but not exactly curvy. I am heavier than I should be and carry that weight mostly in the belly. It's a source of acute humiliation for me and makes me feel less feminine. I'm actively working on the weight problem.

It seems like clothes for tall women aren't cut for my shape and clothes for plus size women expect me to be busty and have hips. Anything empire-waisted makes me look 6 months pregnant. Why is everything empire-waisted??? Tunic-like or flowy styles means getting the same pregnancy question. I've squeezed myself into many kinds of body shapers/undergarments that try to pull in the fat bits and pad out the smaller bits just to get something to fit. Then I wear plus-size pieces and clearly don't fill them out properly. It's uncomfortable and looks terrible.

To add to the problem, I think my torso is a bit longer than most so things are that are meant to be at my waist end up sitting higher. In the meantime I'm tired of not having anything that fits. So tired. So tired of telling people I'm not pregnant (I'm 50!) and that's it's just "all me" and that I had my kids years ago.

So, custom-made clothes? Recommendations for shops? I want things with a waist, maybe a pretty dress. I really don't want dowdy but that's exactly how I feel every day.
posted by bluemoonegg to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't bought anything from yet but they do alterations to order and it's something I keep in the back of my head. ModCloth has some items in sizes 16 and up.

One thing that I think helps is attempting to find some part of your body to emphasize. If you can wear a snazzy necklace, awesome shoes, great earrings, something, it's easier for people to focus on that rather than parts of your body that you would prefer people miss. Just a thought.
posted by kat518 at 6:33 PM on March 12, 2013

Best answer: Is there a Nordstrom in your area? I swear by Nordstrom's personal shopper service. They are, IME, great at finding clothes that fit and flatter. And they will work within a budget - mine respected that I had only X amount to spend on clothes and so I was able to choose two high-quality pieces (and neither were designer labels).

A personal shopper can help you find cuts, colors and particular labels/designers that fit and flatter your particular figure. Then you can use this as a template for shopping on your own.

I have also known a few people who had an unusually tough time finding clothes to fit them to have them custom-made. This might be an option for you.

Kat158 has a great idea - accessorizing! I find that accessories that draw the eye up to your face work very well to take attention away from my midsection. Think necklaces, earrings, and scarves. This will draw attention to your smile, eyes, and expression - and fun earrings, etc. are great conversation-starters.

(And, btw, it's very rude to assume that a woman is pregnant if she doesn't actually SAY so. Sheesh! Feel free to give out withering Death Glares.)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:38 PM on March 12, 2013 [7 favorites]

I have the same problem with being long-waisted, tall and plus. My bust causes empire-waisted clothing to form a "tent" that makes me look huge. I have had some success with wide belts for creating the illusion of a waist but they take some getting used to.

We need clothing that has structure in the waist area and there's not much of it out there. I like the UK retailers Evans and Dorothy Perkins.
posted by Deodand at 6:49 PM on March 12, 2013

You're shaped like my mom. She's also tall and carries her weight in her belly. She looks pregnant (she's nearly 60) and has since she had my brother more than 20 years ago. It's just how she's built.

What she tends to look best in is pants, a plain shirt (like a nice quality t-shirt), and some kind of textured/patterned/nonstandard in some way jacket. She seems to get a lot of stuff from Coldwater Creek. With a quick glance, I easily see her in something like this or this.

A few years ago my brother and I tried to get her to go shopping to try something new (she was complaining that she hadn't gone shopping in a long time) and got her to try on a patterned A-line skirt. We both thought she looked great, but she thought it was too young of a look and that it was too big of a change. She ended up buying a few new jackets instead.

YMMV, but it works for her.
posted by phunniemee at 6:51 PM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am an apple shape too. I put on weight on my tummy and chest. I actually wore an empire waist shift when I eloped and several people wrote on my facebook wall to congratulate me on my marriage AND "the baby," because I guess it looked like a shotgun wedding? Right around the same time old men started coming up to touch my belly in the grocery store. It was terrible! So rude.

Anyway, for practical suggestions: I started wearing, on the advice of a Nordstrom personal shopper actually, Not Your Daughter's Jeans and NYDJ brand skirts. They trim my pregnant-with-sandwiches-and-bacon-fries midsection very well; it's the only brand of jeans I wear any more. I refuse to wear stuff like Spanx, but it's an option, too, of course. Definitely seconding the free Nordstrom personal shopper. They have a wide range of budgets and sizes there.
posted by sweltering at 6:54 PM on March 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

I agree with phunniemee. A properly-structured jacket, like the second one phuniemee linked to, nips in at the waist and gives you a shape. I see this trick used on What Not to Wear all the time.
posted by michellenoel at 6:56 PM on March 12, 2013

Best answer: Before losing a boat load of weight recently, I was your body twin - 6ft, apple, fat belly, no chest, long torso, unfeminine feeling because of it all. Check out Lands End and Eddie Bauer. I wore a lot of untucked feminine colored button downs with a little shaping through the middle with straight legged pants and cardigans in bright colors. Skirts with 6ft lady legs are also good. You're right to stay away from the empire waist. They make everyone look pregnant.
posted by cecic at 7:00 PM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am tall-ish -- but more pear-shaped. But my tall apple-shaped friend and I both have good luck with the trousers at Ann Taylor and Loft (the less-pricey store). They have tall sizes with longer inseams and fits for different proportions of hips/waist. You don't mention if you are women's sizes -- but their misses tall pants go up to size 18.
posted by pantarei70 at 7:12 PM on March 12, 2013

Best answer: I am tall-ish, though not as tall as you. I also have a long waist and have, at times, been congratulated on my pregnancy.

Pick up a copy of "David Kibbe's Metamorphosis." That helped me enormously.

I tend to favor medium weight knits, often with 5% spandex. I find they are more forgiving about the fact that nothing is ever really cut quite right. Knits and/or 5% spandex items are also more forgiving when your size and shape are changing due to weight loss.

I go for dresses with no waistline because dresses with a waistline never fall right. In the past, I have done well with a knit dress with no waistline and a mandarin or faux turtleneck collar paired with a knit jacket with a round neckline and no collar. I sometimes put a nice belt over the jacket to give it more shape.

I favor solid colors for most clothes. I do well with paisleys if I can find them. I sometimes do okay with medium sized florals. Most stripes, checks, etc bomb on me.
posted by Michele in California at 9:15 PM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm exactly your size....and shape. Land's end for sure..... and Duluth Trading company for casual wear. It's made longer and fits really well.... good quality. Stick with classics, non trendy things that fit well and then dress them up with accessories. And don't let your body shape be a source of humiliation..... We are what we are... work to be healthy but love yourself....
posted by pearlybob at 9:31 PM on March 12, 2013

I've learned more about what brands and types of clothing look good on me in a thrift store than in any number of retail stores; even though I do purchase retail as well, the knowledge came from sifting through thrift. Thrift stores have a jumble of different types, sizes, and eras of clothing and the ones in my area have separated out by size/specialty (kids/blouses/sweaters/plus-size/maternity/etc) for ease of shopping. Trends like empire-waists change, and while all the retail might be currently devoted to one (also skinny jeans, blecch) the thrift will have all sorts.

The trick is to start by trying on EVERYTHING. Even stuff that looks meh on the hanger or that you're sure is going to be way too [whatever]. And then you really assess what's happening mirror-wise, and start to edit what you pull off the racks. It takes some time, but you start to learn what brands/styles/lengths will work even before trying on (and I've also got a long torso, I feel you). Though even now, I still try on way more than I think might actually work because clothes often look bad/good on the hanger and look good/bad on me in unanticipated (yet) ways.

Also, and this may be too much mentally, but if you can get over that aspect trying on maternity wear might be just the thing. A lot of it is meant to minimize the belly and I have ended up both accidentally and on purpose with a few maternity pieces which do nothing more than accentuate other areas and don't cling to my stomach. I did cut the tags out so they don't accidentally flip up and declare my untrue pregnancy to the world.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:51 PM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh my gosh -- great ideas to check out! I can't even tell you all how much it helps to hear others have similar proportions and have figured it out. I tend to buy online but do a LOT of returning of items (which just makes it a depressing experience). I will make sure to try everything on first at brick-and-mortar places. I'm a big scarf-wearer, but I really suck at picking out jewelry -- so I will also beef up the accessories thing.
posted by bluemoonegg at 3:14 AM on March 13, 2013

Also, the fixation on empire waistlines will eventually pass. I sometimes feel like half my life has been spent waiting for stupid fashions (shapes, colors, whatever) to pass so that decent-looking things become available again. Or things that look decent on ME anyway. Hang in there!!
posted by acm at 8:15 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have recently discovered this Fat Chic Clothing Store Catalog post, which catalogs a large amount of online (and some brick-and-mortar) plus-size stores, many of which I'd never heard of before. With luck, you'll find some shops new to you there.

(And to all you commenters asking who on earth wears empire waistlines? IT'S ME! I am triangle/pear-shaped and have been enjoying the hell out of this trend for the past few years, and dread the future when it's gone and I have to go back to tops and dresses that are too baggy in the bust and shoulders but fit my hips.)
posted by telophase at 9:17 AM on March 13, 2013

I have a friend who has a body shape a lot like yours--tall, carries her weight around her middle. She buys a lot of clothes from Deva Lifewear, and they look pretty good on her.
posted by tully_monster at 5:57 AM on March 14, 2013

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