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

March 24, 2009

Dear Girl Who Thinks a Longish Dress is the Same as Underpants

Filed under: Uncategorized — Miss Plumcake @ 5:17 pm

It’s not. Also, air is not a bra.



If you remember in The Philadelphia Story (one of my all-time favorite movies) the doyenne of the household tells young Dinah “that dress hitches up in the back” to which the little girl replies “no, it’s me that does.”

Virginia Weidler as Dinah Lord in The Philadelphia Story

Y’all. It’s us “that does”, and it screws us every time.

It begins innocently enough. You put on a dress, a lovely mid-knee length number. You admire your naturally gorgeous self in the mirror, saying “Self, I AM naturally gorgeous” and toss your bag over your shoulder. You put on your heels (or not) and hie yourself off to work or school or your parole officer’s place just as happy as a little lamb.

And that’s where the trouble begins.

Because as you’re walking off to work/school/your parole officer’s, your skirt is riding up in back and by the end of the block your cute dress has become a Festival of Oversharing and now the world has become the boll weevil to the cotton ball that is your lady business.

This is not what we’re going for.

So let’s take a look at WHY skirts and dresses ride up, what we can do to stop them and how to work around a skirt that’s just a leetle too short.

Why dresses ride up:

  • Dress/skirt doesn’t fit.
  • clingy/grippy material either of the skirt or of your undergarments.
  • very snug waist causes pulling up to the Promised Land
  • fabric being gripped by shoulder bag/jacket/other item rubbing against the dress

How to fix it:
Just My Size “snip-it” slip, very inexpensive and you can trim it to your desired length.

  • Buy clothes that fit. I mean, duh. But still. Do it.
  • Wear a slip. Always. Always always always.  Half slip, full slip (Plumcake’s choice) whatever. There’s no reason not to. Ever wonder why you can slide around better in socks than you can in bare feet? Because skin grips better than fabric. Meaning fabric against fabric is going to keep smoother than fabric again skin.
  • Make sure your panties aren’t grippy. My all-time favoriteicon home-game (as opposed to away game) underpants are CRAZY grippy, so I have to be extra sure to wear something with a little weight at the hem and a good nylon or silk slip.

If a dress is too short and you can’t return it or lengthen or add a wide band or ruffle (or –my preference– an enormous ostrich boa) at the hem, you really only have three choices: wear it with pants, tights or leggings, and all three should be approached with caution.

Pants with dresses:

I don’t necessarily object. I think for a big girl –as long as she’s tall enough and has the posture of a princess– this can be a good look if your dress is considerably too short, just watch the volume at the leg.

Too little volume and you get that hateful weeble wobble look of skinny pants on non-skinny girls; too much and you’re Lady Mayoress of Frumpton-on-the-Schlub. Plumcake’s recommendation? The defending champion of the Manolo for the Big Girl “Pants Off” Lane Bryant’s Right Fit Jeans and Pantsicon.

If you’re doing the dress+jeans look, keep it casual. Towering stilettos will look trashy (to say that properly in the South it requires three syllables: Tuh-RASH-shee. Feel free to linger on the tuh bit for extra Junior League points) so I like skimmers or cowboy boots.

Also trashy with super-high heels? Leggings.

This Is Not What We’re Going For

I know, I know, not all of you are on board with leggings, but when approached with fear and trembling –and a government-issued ID saying you were not alive to witness the moon landing– they can work for big girls.  Just be careful with the heel height, you can stumble very easily into Peg Bundy territory. This is very clearly a no cha-cha heel zone (besides, nice girls don’t wear cha-cha heels).  My favorites, far and away, is the Avenue Seamless Long Leg Shaper.

Then we come to tights. Tights are a solution when your dress is just a teensy bit too short. I’m talking an inch or two. Tights are not pants.

I am having a major tights moment, and I still like the tights-with-a-statement shoe look that was popular last fall and continues to be on trend —although in a more continental, manqué way–if you want to go for color, and I’m a big fan of color, you’ve GOT to go to We Love Colors which offers tights in 45 colors that apparently fit folks up to 6’0″ & 375lbs.

If you’re feeling the need for patterned tights (PLEASE no enormous diamond fishnets) Torrid makes the best I’ve found, particularly their fishnets.  These vertical striped fishnets are fab –I’m wearing them today, actually– and not too sexy for the office, as I find traditional fishnets to be.Striped fishnets at Torrid

and if you’re seeking just plain opaque tights that really are actually opaque? Well, you’ll have to let me know. Lane Bryant stopped making my beloved double opaque tights sometime last year.



  1. Anyone know of a great site for slips? I have a heck of a time finding a good, long enough, fitting, pretty slip.

    Also, my big rule for tights, leggings, and or pants with a dress/tunic, no lady bits or buns can show. Actually, said dress/tunic must be at least mid thigh. Any shorter and it’s really not a pretty sight.

    Comment by Jennie — March 24, 2009 @ 11:55 pm

  2. Torrid’s plain black opaque tights are truly opaque and will probably survive a nuclear holocaust. I was wearing mine when I got into a wee little accident involving a sled an a cadre of British lawyers on a ski weekend. My leg needed stitches, but the tights, not even an itty bitty run.

    Comment by Sabayon — March 25, 2009 @ 3:47 am

  3. I’m a big fan of the Spanx reversable tights. Not only are they actually opaque, you get two colors in one pair of tights. They are very sturdy, plus they have the nice Spanx streamline effect.

    Comment by Lunakitsch — March 25, 2009 @ 5:19 am

  4. Amen to all of this. Amen to fit, amen to slips, and an enormous amen to Dinah. I played Tracy in college and I’ve never gotten over it…

    Don’t know about a website for slips, but if you’re ever within spitting distance of a Vanity Fair/Hanes outlet, dive in. They are usually stadium-sized spaces chocablock with Mom jeans and shapeless appliquéd blouses, but in the back corner there will be an extravaganza of discounted underduds and slips galore. It’s where most of mine come from. Also good for jammies and socks.

    Comment by Style Spy — March 25, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  5. Eddie Bauer, of all places, has very decent and completely opaque tights. They’re what I went to when Laura Ashley closed.

    Comment by raincoaster — March 25, 2009 @ 9:22 am

  6. Yes. A slip would be a good thing. It would have been a very good thing at the Christmas Eve service where I wore my red knit dress.

    And long underwear. (Because this is Wisconsin. And it is cold here, even indoors.)

    And discovered that knit fabrics + long underwear = static cling.

    I did not know that. This is my first winter here.

    I also did not know that one needs an entire suite of snow removal equipment for winter — that a single shovel is not enough for 14″ of snow at once. But that’s a different story.

    Comment by class factotum — March 25, 2009 @ 10:22 am

  7. Spankingly good post. I just got back from Paris (and no, no I will not be shutting up about it for one second) and visited the Parisienne’s hosiery mecca in BHV. Picked up some great cute socks and Bonnie Doon leggings, but was dismayed to find so many tights with next-to-no waist support. I just went through a tight binge here (in UK) and due to merely a whisper of elastic at the waist, saggy gussets plagued my walking hours. I need more than a bare hint of waistband, manufacturers!

    I also held out against tights for years, the Fug Girls, bless them, horrified me against the spandex plague. But i converted with my first dress of 10 years, and haven’t looked back. As my personal RL style maven sez, dress+cardigan+tights blacker than midnight = win.

    Class Factotum, what does not kill us makes us stronger, but ooh, that’s rough. At least you could’ve hit the lights and given everyone a sparkly static show.

    Comment by Margo — March 25, 2009 @ 10:41 am

  8. I have to say yes to the slip thing. Mom was right- slips make all the difference- and when I found out that a nice Full Slip gets my husband going while I am getting dressed in the morning, lets just say, Slips make all the difference.

    Even if you are wearing a long flowing skirt- wear a slip- No one wants to see whats going on under your sheer summer skirt- trust me on this.

    Comment by Kimks — March 25, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

  9. I just wish I could FIND full-length slips readily. Local plus size shop doesn’t carry full slips, just half and cami. The slip linked to? No delivery to Canada.

    I sew, but man, there are something I shouldn’t HAVE to sew.

    Comment by CanadianChick — March 25, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

  10. I nearly fell in love with a male coworker of mine one late night when his answers to my questions were, “Yes, Professor”, “No, Professor”. Took me right to the poolside with James Stewart (my grandmother got to dance with him at a high school dance back in the day in Indiana according to her – she was quite a looker and hot – her Dad had the first automobile in the county – and she could drive it and FIX it – and her name was Maxine!) I almost swooned! His name was James, too.

    Comment by Carol — March 25, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

  11. CanadianChick, the Bay has plus-size full slips, as does Sears, and they will of course ship anywhere in the country. You can even phone in an order if you know what size you are (and happen to get a competent clerk on the other end, admittedly a lottery now that department stores have cut staff back to minus numbers).

    Comment by raincoaster — March 26, 2009 @ 4:39 am

  12. I swear by tights from Target – lots of colors and patterns, though I tend to stick with black. They’re just opaque enough for me with enough “slippage” to allow wearing under pants without too much trouble. I usually buy 5-6 pairs for a season and wash by hand. They last through daily wear here in the Frozen North.

    Class Factotum – sorry no one clued you in to the vast number of implements needed for a Wisconsin winter. Snow brush, scraper, ice melter for the windshield (pick that up at Target while you’re getting tights and long undies), shovel, snow blower, roof rake. Sigh…thankfully spring and fall are nice here.

    Comment by Carol — March 26, 2009 @ 8:31 am

  13. For the ladies who have trouble finding decent slips, there’s a great alternative:


    Yup. I’m wearing one this very moment, under my work clothes. It is a SLIP-style nightgown, in bias-cut black silk. And it’s much easier to find a nightgown than a slip (or so it seems to me). I would also recommend taking a peek at The Vermont Country Store: there aren’t a LOT of options, but there certainly are some classics, including pettipants, AND a nice loose knee-length cotton culotte for wearing under those summer skirts!

    Comment by La BellaDonna — March 26, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

  14. I’d like to take a minute to remind the ladies whose weight is in their backsides – just because the skirt is long enough in the front, doesn’t mean it’s the same length in the back! DO take the time to have your skirts hemmed evenly all around, if your backside is resplendent enough to hike your skirts up!

    And, since my other post was eaten, I substitute slip-style bias-cut NIGHTGOWNS for actual slips! In fact, I’m wearing one right now. I’d also like to suggest taking a peek at The Vermont Country Store for some very basic underpinnings, including pettipants, which can be just the right thing under a summer skirt (especially the ones they call culottes!).

    Comment by La BellaDonna — March 26, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

  15. I’ve never found a slip yet that didn’t turn any slight static electricity problems into full-blown Electrical Storm in the Office time. And compound any riding-up difficulties. What am I missing about slips? Not that I’m likely to start wearing them – ahem. But seriously. What’s the secret to a slip that doesn’t make EVERYTHING, from panties to nylons to skirt to coat (if wearing) ball up around the thighs in one sparky clingball?

    Comment by Katharine — March 27, 2009 @ 10:39 am

  16. Secret to having slips not ride up- Fabric softner- I wash my delicates on the hand wash cycle of my washing machine with a half cap of liqhid fabric softner, then line dry- keeps the static cling away. Also helpful to throw a few dryer sheets in the drawer with your under garments- keeps them smelling nice and aids in the anti-static battle.

    Comment by Kimks — March 27, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

  17. Katharine, another option is to spritz your slip or whatever that clings with hair spray. Good old fashioned aerosol environment-destroying hairspray. I wouldn’t recommend it on silk, but for anything else, go for it.

    Comment by Plumcake — March 28, 2009 @ 2:50 pm

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