Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

August 20, 2007

Be Careful with Pants

Filed under: Fashion,Honey. No. — Francesca @ 9:29 am

One may ask: Francesca, why do you consistently recommend skirts and dresses, and not pants, for the Big Girls?

Francesca has given this much thought. Certainly, it is very possible to be a plus-size lady, wear pants, and be superfantastic. See? Like this:

Great pants, great top, great fit

However, the Manolo having established that being large and superfantastic is hard, expensive work, Francesca believes that it is even harder in pants. Again, not impossible, just harder.

A skirt, you see, is, if well-chosen, designed to de-accentuate the tummy and upper thighs, while pants do more to accentuate every line.

If you are a pear-shape, finding superfantastic pants may be a leetle beet easier. However, if, like Francesca, you are Appley, wearing pants is more likely than not to show off the lumpy-squishies which protrude frontward from one’s torso, unless one is careful. If one tucks in one’s shirt, one’s tummy roll is outlined perfectly. If one does not tuck in one’s shirt, one may look frumpy.

There is a way around this: One can pair the pants with a very pretty, well-made, well-fitting, hip-length blouse and a belt, or a tunic with an empire waist.

Whatever you do, if you are going to wear pants, they must be of the highest quality, made of the finest materials. Jeans should not have holes or frays or anything associated with the word “grunge” (unless you are the goth or punk-rocker high school or college student, in which case this is OK since it goes with your very fierce attitude).

The pants should be tight enough to look fitted, not saggy. They should be loose enough that you do not get a muffin top or look like a skanky ho.

muffin top

(This is an example of a pants “don’t.” Actually, it is several examples, in one pair of pants.)

Back pockets and seams should be placed such that your oh-so-sexy bottom looks exactly as round as you want it to — not too flat and not more round than you are comfortable with.

And again, the pants should be paired with the attractive top, which — if you are a Poochie Mama– either flows attractively over the tummy and hips, or can be coordinated with a belt.

Wearing pants when one is big is difficult, expensive work. But it can be done! Francesca has faith in you!

Go forth and shop!

Xoxo, Francesca


  1. Many thanks to the apple-shaped Francesca, from the apple-shaped and much older Annalucia; the advice is very good.

    Another bit of advice which the Annalucia received from her younger daughter, La Caterina: trousers which sit slightly below the waist and give the illusion of the longer torso. This is very important for those of us who are large of bust but very short of torso; if the Annalucia wears trousers at “waist level” they appear to be hiked up under her armpits. So for her, the tunic is definitely the way to go. Now if she could only find some whose styles are neither dowdy nor baby-doll….

    Comment by Annalucia — August 20, 2007 @ 1:22 pm

  2. I wear skirts perhaps twice a year, and, honestly, I’ve never found pants-wearing that big a challenge. (Indeed, it is in skirts, especially the filmy, floaty things the large-size retailers are so enamored of, that I tend to look like a very short parade float.)

    I’m a busty, short-waisted hybrid apple — an hourglass with a substantial tummy — and I just take care that the pants I buy fit properly and worry no further about it. But I’m the opposite of a fashionista, and perhaps I’m kidding myself!

    Comment by Bridey — August 20, 2007 @ 2:03 pm

  3. I’m going to have to step up for all my pear sisters out there and say that it isn’t easy buying pants that fit. The thighs and booty mean you wind up looking fat and lumpy with half your ass visible through the six inch gap between the waist of the pants and your actual waist. Not to mention that you have to go up a size or two to fit the booty in the pants sometimes, leading to a whole week of self-esteem downward spiral. There should be wine and therapists at the pants store. I pretty much stick to skirts and dresses.

    BUT!!! I went to Lane Bryant this weekend to return some bras I bought online and checked out their new jeans system. Dear, sweet baby Jesus, this thing is amazing. I now have jeans that fit me better than designer ones that have been tailored. And they’re still under $50 a pair. You get a body type color and a different size that doesn’t correspond to your usual one (i.e. a blue 3). I almost cried with joy and appreciation in the store when the salesgirl told me that within the next year, they are going to do the sizing of the whole entire store this way. No more tight in the hips but swimming in the top dress disappointments!

    Comment by Sara — August 20, 2007 @ 5:10 pm

  4. normally, I lurk and generally i do agree with the opinions but I must respectfully disagree with this post. I love dresses and skirts but unfortunately certain styles favored prior to the 560-60s era influenced clothing of recent years was… less than flattering to myself as I am cursed with the apple and a rather large bust. Being apple shaped, I have preferentially worn pants for many years and I have noticed the unfortunate anterior bulge of the abdomen. This is generally easily and attractively covered with a fetching tunic or empire waisted blouse. I personally would avoid the belt, I continue to monitor the new styles with great trepidation.

    Comment by Adenike — August 20, 2007 @ 6:53 pm

  5. I have to confess, I’m a pants fan too. I love how long and lean they make me feel. Yes, you have to be vigilant around the lumpy bits at the waist, fit is key, and pair carefully with the right top, etc. I wear skirts and dresses more recently, but still only about once a month. I just love ankle boots and they go much better with pants.

    Comment by Pinkleader — August 20, 2007 @ 6:55 pm

  6. I just had to say that the muffin-top picture was one of the most horrid depiction of that phenomenon EVER.

    Also….the RightFit sizing system at Lane Bryant has now expanded to include dress pants. Hallelujah!

    Comment by Jenna — August 20, 2007 @ 10:02 pm

  7. ack! Depictions!

    Comment by Jenna — August 20, 2007 @ 10:03 pm

  8. So, you say that dresses are the way to go. I agree and I like dresses; however, what do I do about the unfortunate rubbing together of the thighs that occurs when wearing dresses? I live in Phoenix and baby, it’s hot out there! Panty hose don’t always cut it so what can I wear that will prevent chafing of my thunder thighs?

    Comment by LadyMartha — August 21, 2007 @ 11:28 am

  9. Another hybrid apple here, big of boobs and belly and short of waist. One feature that’s often more pronounced in us big girls is a waistline that’s higher in back and lower in front. Pants with a straight-across waistband end up with a hiked-up “grandpa” effect in front and plumber-crack in back – unflattering from any angle. (With skirts, it shows itself as an uneven hemline).

    Pants that compensate for this are not only more flattering but more comfortable, leading you to look even better because you feel better. Certain styles of men’s jeans are cut with a tilted waistline and have the added bonus of being available in varying lengths.

    As for what to wear under dresses: I mentioned bike shorts in my comment to the “leggings” post. I liked them in theory but they always rode up on me, until I discovered the secret – wear them inside out. Any knitter knows that the structure of knitted fabric makes it prone to curling in one direction. Why no one has thought to manufacture bike shorts with the fabric purl-side-out in the first place, I don’t know. There’s a big untapped market there.

    Comment by B.S.A.G. — August 21, 2007 @ 12:35 pm

  10. Under dresses and skirts, I wear a pair of C9 compression shorts from Target. They have several lengths available; I wear the medium-length, which ends just above my knees. The knit fabric is thin but strong, and the elasticized “cuff” doesn’t roll at either the legs or the waist.

    Comment by Chicklet — August 21, 2007 @ 1:13 pm

  11. For under skirts in the extreme heat bike shorts can be too tight and hot, I find these split slips much cooler albeit mortifying should anyone ever catch a glimpse of one, I remember someone on the internet referring to them as “Jane Austen underwear.”

    Comment by debby — August 21, 2007 @ 2:25 pm

  12. B.S.A.G. – you are BRILLIANT with the inside out!

    Comment by Nabushi — August 21, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

  13. I too suffered the thighs of fire and so avoided skirts and dresses for a very long time. I tried bike shorts, but often found them too bulky or too warm and I hated the swish/swish sound when I walked that I felt gave them away. Recently I discovered Luvees, a lightweight stretch lace long legged panty with a satin panel between the thighs (prevents the swishing sound) and I now wear them practically every day!
    One word of caution, I don’t recommend the thigh coverall version…they just didn’t stay up on me and I’ve got very full thighs. I’ve contemplated using a garter belt with them but I haven’t gotten around to trying it.

    There are lots of versions of the split slips out there too. Try searching pettipants or split slip plus size!

    Comment by Kimocean — August 21, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

  14. It’s not just in bigger sizes that pants are hard to fit. I’m convinced that designers have totally forgotten that women have hips these days. I tend to take around a size 10, and it’s unbelievable how many 8s/10s/12s will be totally too small in the thighs yet too big in the waist. The rise? Forget it. Every pair of pants I see has a short rise (I have an unusually long one) and the difference between the waist and hips is only about 5 inches.

    Who the heck are their fitting models?

    Comment by Kimberly — August 21, 2007 @ 6:50 pm

  15. If the weather’s warm and you just can’t stand the thought of another layer of fabric around your thighs, many people recommend BodyGlide and similar products (I think Lube Stick for Runners is one) that look and feel like a deodorant. I haven’t tried ’em myself.

    Comment by Brooke — August 21, 2007 @ 7:44 pm

  16. Thanks for all the hints, ladies. I’ve ordered some Luvees to try and will be checking out the bike shorts and compression shorts. I’ve used the split slips before and they work well enough; however, one side always rides up and gathers itself rather intimately at the top of my thigh. It’s workable but rather uncomfortable!

    Comment by LadyMartha — August 22, 2007 @ 12:48 pm

  17. Who the heck are their fitting models?

    Twelve-year-old boys. Preferably 12-year-old boys with big boobs.

    Comment by class-factotum — August 22, 2007 @ 8:30 pm

  18. Hey! I resemble that “12-year-old boys with big boobs” comment!
    Remember ladies, that we come in all shapes and sizes. I have only a 6 inch difference between my waist and hips, though a whole size and a half larger on top.

    But inspired by the pants post, I’m wearing a skirt today, instead of my normal trousers. And if it weren’t so freaking cold in the office, I’d feel all twirly, nice and summery.

    But I have a question for the Manolo girls. I see all these cute trapeze tops and dresses in online stores and wonder. They seem perfect for pears and bean poles, but is there any way they can be worn by a busty big girl, perhaps with a lower scooped neckline and/or with a belt, and not look terrible?

    Comment by Pinkleader — August 23, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

  19. Hola to the Pinkleader! I regret to say that, by and large, the trapeze top is diametrically opposed to the way you are built. Some of the Empire tops you might be able to wear, as those are confined beneath the bust (and you need to make sure that that is where the seam lies – NOT right across your bosom, that means it doesn’t fit), but a trapeze top, which skims over the bust and flares out, will make you look larger than Nature did.

    Use your own best judgment; try them on in front of a mirror, and see – but if they look awful, as well they might, it’s not because there’s anything wrong with your figure, it’s just not the figure those tops were designed for.

    Comment by La BellaDonna — August 24, 2007 @ 5:58 pm

  20. Thanks for a very entertaining blog. Regarding the pants issue, I’m a size 14/16 petite (5’2″) and never could find pants to fit right, look good, and be comfortable. (GOTTA be comfortable!) Francesca, you need to know about — pants there are designed for women with shapes of all sorts (you order by size and shape). The key though is they are NOT tailored NOR intended to be worn with a top tucked in (that’s the mistake most people make…expecting that to look good on anyone with a tummy). Astarte’s best selling, looks good on everyone, design is the Flute Pant (a bit dressier) and the Bootcut (or PLUSH Bootcut, for the pear shapes with bigger thighs) is right for the office. Designed to skim the curves and provide shape (palazzo pants are not good on anyone!), Astarte pants are sexy, easy care, and COMFORTABLE. But you’ve gotta have a top that covers, and Astarte tops/tunics are all designed with shape, to be cut up higher on the sides (for a longer legged look) and a bit longer in front, enough to cover that squishy protusion some of us have. :) You can order by size, shape, AND height, too — yep, makes it bit pricier, but well worth the investment because customers say they are the most comfortable and flattering pants they’ve ever owned. I have to say I don’t think a belt is a good idea unless it’s worn with a jacket or something over it to avoid the cinched pillow look.

    Comment by Nanette — August 26, 2007 @ 2:28 pm

  21. Pinkleader,

    I would love to look like a 12-year-old boy with boobs! Instead, I look like a flat-chested potato-harvesting peasant woman who is storing food for winter in her thighs. Designers hate me, too.

    Comment by class-factotum — August 27, 2007 @ 8:37 pm

  22. Ah…pants! I have a big mummy tummy, a very long waist, very short legs, and a very big bust. Dresses and skirts are much better but pants are so much easier to wear when running with the hounds (Big Girl Rosy the Golden Retriever and Timmy, her Skinny brother). Bettter yet, they cover the Thunder Thighs made by the Running of the Hounds.

    Love the column! And blessings to the Manolo who finally provided the much quoted “Ayyyyyyy” used by the Christine when people question the choice to save the baby and sacrifice forever the flat tummy.

    Comment by Christine — August 29, 2007 @ 3:24 pm

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