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

January 25, 2010

The Big Question: Apple and Pears

Filed under: The Big Question — Miss Plumcake @ 3:04 pm

I am a pear, I believe Francesca is an apple. I don’t know what Twistie is, but knowing her she’s probably some sort of exotic heirloom aubergine, pan-seared and served with capers and an onion marmalade reduction. Of course this whole “divide the world into two fruits” thing is mostly nonsense, but for the sake of this argument, let’s pretend it’s not.

I didn’t notice until a few weeks ago –you know how I feel about thinking about people who aren’t me– that there’s a bit of frisson between pears and apples in the big girl world. Is that true? Do pears really have it better/easier/whateverer than apples?

Not that I want to incite big girl on big girl violence –it’s not that kind of website– but in my extremely limited scope of things, but I suspect apples get the fuzzy end of the lollipop pretty much across the board, except when it comes to sheath dresses. It takes a hell of a lot of voodoo to make a sheath work on a serious pear.

So apples, I’m genuinely curious. Do you have it rougher? Pears, weigh in (see what I did there?) with your thoughts too.


  1. There seems to be an assumption that being big means having boobs. As an apple (I’m guessing, based on descriptions, that I am an apple…more like a rectangle in my opinion) I find it extremely difficult to find clothes. If it fits my belly, there is vast amounts of material flapping around in the bust area. If it fits my bust, and my belly, it’s called maternity wear. And if it fits my waist I end up with saggy butt syndrome. My choices are maternity clothes or baggy, neither of which flatters me. There is only so much a tailor can do. And let me tell you, B cup bras are not available in plus size support. AAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Jennie — January 25, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

  2. Sadly, the sheath dress is not a friend to the busty apple. I would give anything to be a pear with with a flat(ter) stomach and a rocking booty.

    Comment by JennyKnopinski — January 25, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

  3. I guess I am an apple (the boobs balance out the booty and gut). According to the shape calculator on the Igigi site, I am an oval. OK, fine.

    Who has it worse? Don’t argue-it’s all bad! You can deal with the figure you have or lose weight and have a smaller version of your shape. Do what you want.

    Questions like this one can turn into “fat talk” and just pit women against each other. I’ve seen it and do we really want to go there?

    Let’s support each other, ladies.

    Comment by dcsurfergirl — January 25, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

  4. Never having been an apple I don’t know, but being a pear isn’t all beer and skittles. All pants and and anything with a straighter skirt is hell to fit, you can never buy a suit. And I don’t know about other pears, but I don’t nice legs and have noticed that my appley sisters tend towards the shapely gams.

    I do like my defined waist and big butt, but that latter took a long time to embrace.

    The problem with pears and dresses in general, IMO, is that you can skew a little pwecious, especially after 40, with the fuller skirts. Charlotte on SATC is a good example of this. But I still love dresses. You just have to be brutal about keeping the feminine details to a minimum.

    Comment by Abby — January 25, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

  5. As a pearish hourglass, the thing that I most envy many apple ladies for is the ability to wear boots. Even when I was in straight sizes my calves were always too big to tall boots. Very annoying in winter when boots are such a major portion of winter looks.

    Comment by sarahbyrdd — January 25, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

  6. I’m a Diamond, just another version of an apple really. My midriff is affectionately known as my doughnut and is larger than my hips and bust. From my perspective stylish plus size clothing is designed under the assumption that all stylish plus size foxes want to define their waist. Actually I would love to define my waist, but mine is very well hidden and to define it would accentuate all the wobbly bits I want to disguise.

    That said, I find that sheath and tunic styles are cut for large shoulders and busts. So to buy to fit my middle I need some serious shoulder, armhole and darting tailoring. I’m sure Pears have this problem too.

    My dream would be to open a store of foundation items in different cuts for different shapes, much like Lane Bryant’s line of pants (can’t remember what they are called sorry).

    Comment by Ragster — January 25, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  7. I’m a 5’4″ hourglass with big boobs, small waist (comparatively) and a big bootie.
    For me, most plus sizes are far too large in the shoulders, have no defined waistline and are waaay too long. And then there are the armholes on blouses and jackets that go all the way to my waist – I need a big sleeve people, not a big armhole that ruins the line of the garment.

    Rather than debate who has it worse – I say we gather the pitchforks and torches and go after the designers and the buyers for major department stores. Followed by cocktails and dessert of course!

    Comment by Thea — January 25, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

  8. I am a pear with fat arms – which apparently is also very rare. That really sucks. I can never find pants. Really, only mom-jeans that go up to my belly button can fit my ample bottom. I can forget about pencil skirts. I have never found a suit jacket that looked good on my and accommodated both my big arms and my small waist and my big hips.
    Dressy shirts are a problem too – I am a B-C cup – so – not breastless but it is assumed that this is non normal for a woman with my hips. So I can’t find shirts that fit my hips without them being too big on the chest.

    And don’t get me started on dresses. I always have to laugh when they have some make over show on TV and they say “And the great thing about wrap dresses – they make everybody look great!”. Wrap dresses are not my friend.

    But I used to work in the Quality control department in the headquarters of a European clothing manufacturer (comparable to Ann Taylor) and I can tell you guys skinny girls have the same problem. I met plenty of girls who wore a size 4 on top and a size 8 on bottom or on the contrary – always had a saggy bottom because they couldn’t find jeans that would fit both their butt and their waist.

    Comment by Ali — January 25, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

  9. I think this is a legitimate question, dcsurfergirl, and I don’t think it has to descend into anything negative.

    Here’s why: the designers love the size 0s because dealing with shape requires a level of understanding about cut and tailoring that I just don’t think lots of designers really get anymore. So given how little care there is shown for fit and fashion above size 12s, and how poorly thought through some constructions are even for those under 12, we shouldn’t be surprised that women of multiple different shapes have trouble finding pieces, like a sheath dress, that really work for them no matter what fruit tree they fell from.

    The differences between the pear and the apple do come down to tailoring, and honestly, I’ve yet to order a dress from IGIGI in my size that fits me in the bust or upper arms. Always Too Tight. Always. So I’ve given up on them.

    My answer is my answer because I am hourglass with very generous bust and hips and I have Very Thick Ankles: I wear separates. I don’t even look at sheath dresses, or dresses of any kind for the most part. A dress has to be REALLY pretty for me to trade off the possibility of showing my ankles to anybody to wear it. I’ve heard comments about my ankles and upper arms so often it makes me want to vomit. So my wardrobe is about finding pants, blouses, blazers, etc. that fit me, and that means I buy a bigger size up top than I do bottom and mix up that way.

    Comment by Lisa — January 25, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

  10. Not sure if this is a case of “the grass is always greener,” but it does seem like most dresses and dressy blouses sold in plus sized stores are geared towards the pear – smaller bust size, empire waisted with the bottom flaring out towards the hips. An apple looks, at best, 8 months pregnant in that kind of style, yet I’ve seen it be the only choice available in many stores. Let me qualify that…the only CUTE choice available, as “shapeless oversized tunic with loud print” seem to be the only other real options. Very disheartening.

    Comment by evilsciencechick — January 25, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

  11. As a lifelong apple, (even when I was super skinny, I almost literally had the ideal flapper figure of 30-30-30,) I think hourglasses have got it made. Yeah, it can be hard to find clothes that fit. I get that. But it’s hard for me too, and no one ever talks about how sexy a flat butt and enormous gut is.

    Comment by Janey — January 25, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

  12. One thing that I have noticed is – either I am extremely weird shaped or this is a general problem – clothes are never tailored to where my waist really is. My waist is above my hips, not under my tits. So I don’t know why so many dresses and shorts are smallest under the bust.

    Comment by Ali — January 25, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

  13. I think everyone has it hard…apples, pears, and even girls who wear “normal” sizes. I had a friend in high school who was a size 0 – and she could never find clothes, because no one carried size 0’s. I had another friend who was voluptuous and hour glass shaped – she could never find anything that would fit her boobs. I’m plus sized and pear shaped…and my top half is a size smaller than my bottom half. Thankfully, I love to shop, so I don’t mind spending time finding things that fit.

    Comment by jen209 — January 25, 2010 @ 6:20 pm

  14. Ali, it sounds almost as if you’re buying “petite” sizes for the top (having to do with torso length, not how thin you are). If you’re buying a regular-length top, then it’s possible you’re long through the midriff, and may need to buy “Talls” in terms of buying things that fit you at your waistline (even if it then means hemming the garment). Of course, it’s possible you’re just busty – that’ll hike everything up to the sky. A lot of garments don’t have the necessary extra length needed to go over a large bosom.

    The truth is, fitting a woman’s body is very hard, and the further it is from a size 0, the more scope there is for variety in weight distribution. This is also why NO single store can, or should be, expected to fit ALL body shapes in all sizes – each shape needs its own pattern cut by a pattern-cutter, and, depending on the fabrication, may need a different pattern for each variation. If you find a line of clothes that fits your body, it means the fit model has the same proportions you do, and you should have decent luck with that line … until she retires or moves, at least.

    Comment by La BellaDonna — January 25, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

  15. Lisa: if you find dresses or skirts you like, have you considered wearing them with boots?

    Which I would be tempted to use on people who think the size OF MY ANKLES is somehow their business …

    Comment by La BellaDonna — January 25, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

  16. I’m an apple. I have always felt that I have it worse than the pears, but the grass is always greener, right? I have a very difficult time finding pants that don’t look ridiculous. I find that if I get something that fits around the waist, it bags out in the butt and hips. Since having a baby and doing weight training, my butt has bulked out and I find it much easier to find pants.

    Comment by Carrie — January 25, 2010 @ 7:15 pm

  17. Okay, I have spotted a trend. I’m 5’2″ with biiig boobs, a booty that hates the waist part of pants (can we have some more belt hooks, please?) and a weird little waist.

    The trend is that nobody is just alike. And that holds even for people who are very small. In college I had a friend that wandered between 0-4 and her butt was impossible to cover. I’m pretty sure Apple Bottoms were created for her, lucky. Point is, let’s all get tailors. This premanufactured stuff isn’t working for us. Let’s go!

    Comment by amber — January 25, 2010 @ 7:33 pm

  18. @LaBelladona-Unfortunately my calves are on proportion with my boots, which means that I have never found a boot that fit even remotely. I will maybe someday get a pair custom-made.

    But LaBella and Amber hit the nail on the head wrt tailoring. Really, once you are above the 0s (which is the reason designers love them) women come in a bunch of different shapes. It’s hard to fit with off-the-rack.

    For example, I am tall-ish but I wear petite trousers because I am soooooo long waisted.

    Do you Manolo People not believe in hourglasses? Is that why this is about fruit? Are hourglasses just variants of the other fruits? Me confused. I’m drawn like Jessica from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

    I do think there are…special challenges with big breasts in general. I get a lot of judgment from other big girls about my breasts–I develop young which means it’s open season on my body which was hurtful and awful, too. So I don’t know that it’s a matter of anybody’s life being easy, and at least my figure is “ballanced” so even though I am a big big girl, I’m well proportioned…I HAVE been tempted by breast reduction. It has to do with way more than appearance. It’s hard to exercise, it’s hard to breastfeed, etc etc.

    Comment by Lisa — January 25, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

  19. I’m coming to the conclusion that LaBellaDonna is right and the real problem lies in the fact that because there are so many fewer plus size manufacturers and straight sized it just SEEMS like it’s tough to fit plus sizes.

    I did tailoring for other students in college to make extra cash, so I know for a fact that girls of all sizes have fit problems, plus girls are not unique in that. However, like Bella said, different brands cut different ways and different styles drape differently. No one expects Guess to be cut the same as Express, so bustier girls go Guess and more boyish girls go Express. There’s the rub- in any given mall there will be 40 stores with straight sizes and maybe two with any kind of plus department worth mentioning, maybe one specialty store if you’re lucky. Now, in the course of shopping 40 stores the chances of finding something cute cut for your shape is about one million times more likely that if you only have two. Especially when you add in the historical track record of the plus industry not exactly being concerned with staying au courant.

    Were there more variety I honestly believe a lot of these problems would aleviate. It will never be perfect, it isn’t perfect for anyone of any size, but it would be miles and away better if there were just a larger merchandise base for plus sized women to choose from.

    As for who has it worse? At this given time I woud agree apples, but that changes with the given trends of the moment, I would say.

    Comment by Beth — January 25, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

  20. **I’m coming to the conclusion that LaBellaDonna is right and the real problem lies in the fact that because there are so many fewer plus size manufacturers THAN straight size it just SEEMS like it’s tough to fit plus sizes.**

    Proofreading is my friend.

    Comment by Beth — January 25, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

  21. The thing I find most difficult about being an apple is that I often find clothes that look great… until I turn in profile and/or attempt to sit down. When I’m shopping for skirts to wear to work, I have to buy them extremely loose in the waist otherwise I won’t be able to breathe while sitting all day at my desk. Where does all that extra squish come from?

    And while I am jealous of the waist and fantastic booty pear-shaped gals have, I have to admit that I’ve always been pleased with my shapely legs.

    Comment by KellyGirl — January 25, 2010 @ 9:37 pm

  22. This has been an interesting discussion, and I agree: everyone has problems, and we pretty much all need a tailor (I finally found one I love, and I’ll never go without again).

    For a while there in the 90s, the “column” dress and its variants were THE look, and every apple I knew was gorgeous in them. I (a pear) looked pregnant.

    I didn’t realize things had changed, because my shape changed a bit in the intervening decade and, while the higher-waisted tunic look was bad for apples, it ended up being bad for me, too, because my rack grew to epic proportions.

    I love my bust, but it is HARD to fit. I, too, can’t find a waist that actually hits my waist. And I totally hear people about the big-arms thing. I have a rather narrow shoulder, but my heavy upper arms and large bust make jackets and blouses a trial.

    Dresses: HA HA HA. I have a couple, but they are knit and stretch the bust to the bursting point. I am two, sometimes three sizes bigger on bottom, and it’s quite silly.

    However, I love my body and would not change my shape. I wish it were easier, though. It makes me want to learn how to sew and alter, so I could do it myself.

    And a word about “size zero”: one of my dear friends has a fabulous rear end and is DEFINITELY not straight-up-and-down, and she has been a double-zero, a zero, and on up to a ten. She is always the same shape, and has the same fit issues with pants as I do (having to take in the waist).

    Comment by Rubygirl — January 25, 2010 @ 9:44 pm

  23. I don’t think we pears have it that easy. I’m not saying apples do, either; never having been one, I can’t say. But it does seem to me that most plus size clothing is tailored for someone bigger on top than bottom, and also there is an assumption that if you’re big around, you must be tall. Don’t even get me started on finding pants that fit. AAARGGH…WHY ARE ALL THE PANTS SO BIG IN THE WAIST????? (Okay, sorry, I have control of myself again now.) If I get them to fit my backside, they’re INCHES too big in the waist, sometimes 3 inches or more. Tailored shirts have lots of fabric in the bust area I don’t need. It lies on my chest like a deflated balloon, deflating my ego in the process. But anything that fits up top is too small around the hips, and anything that fits my hips is too big on top. I’m not that small in the bust (36DD), but I’m at least a whole size bigger on bottom. My jokes are that that I’m an hourglass with all the sand settled in the bottom. Or not so much an hourglass as a figure 8, only with the bottom part bigger! Also, I’m 5″3″ so I have the issue of many plus size clothes being too long as well–sleeves completely cover my hands, pants legs pool on the ground. But I’m sure that apples have their issues as well. It is frustrating…all the style advice books suggest, “Have things tailored to fit you.” Good advice, I agree. But try to find some one who is good at that in rural West Texas. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Thank God for Lane Bryant and their Right Fit pants.

    Comment by Leigh — January 25, 2010 @ 9:57 pm

  24. As a plus-sized bootylicious hourglass, I’ve always been envious of women with slim legs, especially those who can wear calf-length boots. I had a pair once – they were custom made – and I wore them to death, but my calves were thinner then. I haven’t seriously looked since, though I know there are online places you can order them.

    Being a Woman of Magnificent Bosomage™, I’ve often found it difficult to buy button-front shirts that don’t gap or strain at the crucial button without hanging in a straight line from shoulder to hip.

    And as for any top with a hem no wider than its shoulder measurement… well, just no. I have often lamented the difficulty of finding a decent-fitting t-shirt or sweatshirt at (for instance) rock concerts, holiday resorts, and the like.

    Everyone’s got their issues with fit, but all is not lost. All you need to know is what works and what doesn’t, and that it’s essential to try on to understand the fit.

    I think where Apples really lose out is in the health stakes; they’re more likely to suffer from heart disease, stroke, and metabolic syndrome, from carrying their fat high rather than low. But then, they probably don’t have to worry about fitting in chairs and medical imaging machinery like those of us who carry the junk in the trunk! :D

    Comment by Wendy — January 25, 2010 @ 11:08 pm

  25. I’m an hourglass with a prominent tummy — and very long-waisted/short-legged. It’s hell to find pants that fit! Yet I’ve been really happy of late with what Land’s End has been doing — I’ve got two pair of their stretch bootcut cords this season and they fit like they were made for me. (And I never, ever, used to be able to wear their pants — I think they’ve got a new fit model.) Add to that the free hemming on a lot of their pants, and it’s LURF!

    As for blouses, I mostly don’t bother. Because of the aforementioned long waist, I prefer not to tuck anything in. And I like to show off my relatively narrow middle, so knits are usually my first choice. I like to add a scarf/brooch/necklace to my outfits (accessories are my signature), and knits are overall better for that, too.

    That said, I don’t follow fashion trends very much. At 47, I’ve figured out what works for me, and tend only to acknowledge a trend through accessories (eg, animal-print shoes), rather than in a big way. I have a reputation for being beautifully pulled-together (she said, humbly), and that’s plenty for me!

    Comment by Rubiatonta — January 25, 2010 @ 11:36 pm

  26. Pear? try being a 38E bust and a 22W butt…sure, I have a flat stomach and a small waist, but seriously….it’s hella hard to find clothes that work. I’m long in the leg, short in the body and 5′ 9″…you think anyone designs for that? I only have boots because I had them custom made in Vietnam (yeah, baby under $50 a pair for custom fit!)

    Then there’s the fact that I’m over 50. Cutsy is easy. Old lady is a slam dunk. Trying for elegance? Pfft! Most fabrics are cheesy….and/or the length is mid-calf (not just below the knee)…and the sillouhette is boxy…

    We’ve all got problems. Don’t tell me to get a tailor: they’re EXPENSIVE in my neighborhood. That makes even a good deal a pricey prospect.

    I’m not down about other plus sizes…I’m pissed off that I go to Nordstrom’s or Nordie’s Rack and there is a 1:20 ratio of plus size to regular size clothes. I have NO F’ing SELECTION. If you’re a regular size, there’s a good chance SOMEONE will make a style that will work.

    Rant off….

    Comment by that redhead — January 26, 2010 @ 2:51 am

  27. wait, wait, wait….rant back on….don’t get me started on “Not Your Daughter’s Jeans”…oh, hayell no! They don’t fit me. Neither do Lane Bryant’s Right Fit….all these brands seem to think since I’m plus size I have a stomach…I don’t…I have the booty from hell…it’s all in the back….I’m a plus size Brazilian/Puerto Rican…who’s actually Irish. For every 20 pair of pants I try on, MAYBE one fits…and even then it could use a little tailoring.


    Comment by that redhead — January 26, 2010 @ 3:00 am

  28. Okay, so we’ve determined we all have assets and problems. I could go on and on (and in fact really really want to) but I’m not. I just want more choice and reasonable prices. Fair enough wouldn’t you say? Big girls come in all shape and sizes and incomes. And a lot of us love to look fashionable. What?! I don’t want a sweatshirt with a kitty embroidered on it? please.

    Comment by Kelly — January 26, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

  29. I have no clue what I am. I was an hourglass with pearish tendencies before I had my son and a number of subsequent abdominal operations. Now I have the stomach from heck; it’s like I have a basketball focussed right in that area.

    I wear a 38F, size 16 and my hips are flat. My room I need in my waist makes the rear and legs bag and sag. I try to wear dresses more but it’s not always easy to fit them.

    But, if you do search, you can find stuff. I just get tired of thinking about it!

    Comment by Christine — January 26, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

  30. Being another Woman of Magnificent Bosomage™ (love that Wendy!) I’d encourage the well-endowed amongst us to try a couple of things before considering reduction surgery.
    1. exercise to increase back and shoulder strength
    2. a really good customer fit bra
    3. working on a strong right hook and a wicked tongue to deal with anyone who assumes you got hired for anything but your brilliant brain or believes your chest is public property
    When I came home crying at age because I was being teased for developing early my Daddy told me “Just tell em the only movie stars without a decent chest are Lassie and Trigger” course I’m dating myself here

    Comment by Thea — January 26, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

  31. I suppose I’m a busty apple, and the thing that I notice when shopping is that pants made for bigger women are made for pear and hourglass-shaped ladies. The waist is narrower, and the hip and butt areas more roomy. This is a *nightmare* for me, because once I find a pair of jeans that fit nicely in the waist, I look like I’m swimming in them. Not hot.

    I’ve had more luck with, say, Lane Bryant Right Fit jeans because they’ve taken this into account, but I wish it were easier for ladies of all shapes to find pants that fit well.

    Comment by Sara — January 26, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

  32. I am an apple. A tall apple. There’s very little difference between my waist (ha! what waist?) and hip measurements. Therefore, there are no pants. Or skirts. If they fit in the waist, they are swimmy clown pants from the waist down. If they fit hips & bottom, the waist is unmercifully tight or just won’t go on at all.

    And I’m big around the middle, but not up top. So dresses don’t work either. Mostly I opt for the kill-my-waist can’t-wait-to-get-them-off pants.

    And, just to complain in general about large-sized clothes: What is with the sleeves? Why so big & so long? Am I to believe that most people my size have massive knuckle-draggers attached to their shoulders? I’m tall and I have long arms and still some tops and sweaters have sleeves that extend well past my wrists. I don’t get it.

    Comment by KathyR — January 27, 2010 @ 10:00 am

  33. As a somewhat busty apple, I can fake being an hourglass if I try hard – but I’m also ridiculously short-waisted and long-limbed, meaning I end up looking like an egg on sticks if I’m not careful (I still haven’t forgiven that boy who called me “Humpty Dumpty” in 9th grade). I always wonder where everyone’s finding all these mythical too-long trousers and sleeves and loose waistbands, and why they can’t send them my way.

    I’ve figured out a few rules for myself over the years: No button-down shirts or blouses – they gap and/or billow in all the wrong places. No high heels – adding height to my bottom half just makes me more disproportionate and likely to twist an ankle. Separates, not dresses. No high necklines, no belts, and no tucking in tops ever. Empire waists are either fabulous or disastrous, depending on the individual garment’s fit.

    I’ve learned to embrace cropped pants and 3/4 sleeves as a feature, not a bug (and to sew knitted cuffs into my winter coats so my wrists don’t freeze). My eventual goal is to opt out of the fashion rat race altogether (without giving up on style) and become proficient at custom-making all my own clothes. I’d love to see that become a more widespread trend, since nobody seems to be satisfied with how things fit off the rack. I realize it’s not the answer for everyone, though, and some people enjoy shopping a lot more than I do.

    Comment by B.S.A.G. — January 27, 2010 @ 11:13 am

  34. I am neither an apple nor a pear, and I think both have their own basket of issues regarding fit.

    The entirety of the problem can be attributed to the fact that 90+% of all women’s clothing lines are cut for women with a waist 10″-12″ smaller than their hips. The fact is that there are a lot of us who fall outside of that window.

    (And for the record, your waist is above your navel, not at your navel. Depending on your size, there will be a crease or fat roll on your side to mark this.)

    Incidentally, for the apples, I highly recommend trying LB’s, Fashion Bug’s, and Catherine’s Right Fit Yellows for pants. For some weird reason, the Right Fits aren’t exactly the same across all three stores, so an LB Yellow 5 may not be the same as an FB Yellow 5. Also try Junior Plus brands for smaller hip cuts, and possibly the Just My Size jeans at Wal-Mart(which are the only pants in all of creation to give me plumber’s crack.)

    For pears, I’m inclined to recommend the Right Fits Blues for you. Again, try all three stores. Also check out the “urban” denim brands like Baby Phat and Apple Bottoms since they’ve cashed in on the inaccurate belief that every Black and Hispanic woman in the bloody universe has wide hips or a big booty.

    As for my personal fit issues, I’m a figure-8 with the industry standard 10″ waist/hip differential(with most of it in the back, so my hips are almost straight). As a result, pants have never been a problem for me. Skirts and some dresses, however, tend to be 2 or 3 inches higher in the back, and I’m still learning to stop freaking out about it.

    Up top, though, the Rack of Doom has excluded me from any top that requires buttoning. I also have narrow, slopey shoulders, so a lot of armholes(armscyes) tend to be about an inch or two down my arm. The slopeyness also makes my shirts slide around and migrate toward my neck, but I can’t wear low-cut things because the Cleavage of Great Peril starts at my collarbone. (Not “can’t” so much as “shouldn’t”. I’m not ashamed of my chest at all.) Strangely, my arms, as big as they are, haven’t caused me any problems lately. I think I’m the one that they make the huge armholes for.

    Comment by ChloeMireille — January 27, 2010 @ 11:52 am

  35. Lisa: ankle boots may be a good compromise – I’ve found some really cute ones.

    I think it’s been recognized that more women – especially the ones who write here about fashion – tend to be apples or pears than anything else; the other shape choices are ruler (that would be your 30-30-30 classic – anyone with a bust and hips the same size, but a waist less than 6″ smaller than the bust/waist) or hourglass (about 8% of the population) – that requires SHOULDERS as wide as the hips, usually but not always with the bosom the same size as the hips, and a waist 8″ to 10″ or more smaller than the bust/waist. There’s also the V-shape, or inverted triangle, with broad shoulders/bust and small waist and REALLY SMALL hips, and usually very trim legs. This is the figure type that most tends to put on weight in the midsection, giving rise to the classic apple shape – who often has narrow hips and trim legs. The pear has SHOULDERS that are narrower than her hips, and usually a bust measurement which is smaller than her hips, too.

    What makes things tricky is that measurements aren’t everything; it’s possible for a woman to be a very busty pear, with narrow shoulders and a narrow back, but she isn’t an hourglass – that’s why her clothes will often look strange from the back, and she can’t figure out why. Or a woman will think she’s an hourglass based on her measurements – but she’s not; all of her bottom measurement is IN her bottom, and instead of being X-shaped, she needs to dress more like someone V-shaped. You can line up five women who weigh the same, who are the same height, who will have radically different figures. You can be petite through part of your body, but not all of it. Posture can make HUGE, HUGE, HUGE differences in clothing sizes. I’m an hourglass (now with belly pad! Look for it in stores near you!) – I’m shortlegged, but long through the torso. In fact, what I ACTUALLY am is: Long through the neck; long through the bustpoint (shoulder to nipple measurement); long through the midriff, and REALLY long through the FRONT waist-to-crotch; and EXTRA-short through the back. I’m 2 1/2 inches shorter in the back neck length (the bone at the base of the neck to my waist) than someone my size should be. That extra 2 1/2 inches is in my FRONT length, because I have a hyper-erect posture, and carry my shoulders rolled back. That back posture means that even tops that should close over my bust, won’t. I could wear a 4/6 in my back – and a 12/14 in my front. Even though I have BROAD, not narrow, shoulders. And I have extra-long arms to coordinate with my short legs, go me! I have one hip higher and rounder than the other (which is lower and flatter). I have arms which are 2″ bigger than my “size”, and it never mattered if I was a size 4 or a size 16, they were STILL 2″ bigger than my “size”!

    I also can’t shop at Zara’s or H&M, because they’re sized for a junior body shape, regardless of going up or down in size numbers – a junior shape is higher-busted, and has less bust/waist/hip development; it’s meant for a teenage figure. A misses’ size is meant to fit a fully-developed woman; it’s why a woman who can wear a 4 or 6 won’t look good in a 5 or 7 – those odd numbers are junior sizes. The fact that Zara’s uses misses numbering just makes them liar, liar, pants on fire. As we age – especially women – we lose some of the fluid in our spinal disks. It’s why women get a little shorter, and thicker-waisted, as they get older; it isn’t just hormones. Women’s clothing sizes used to acknowledge this; they were cut a little wider in the waist and hips, compared to the bust.

    THESE are the reasons it’s so hard for women to find clothes that fit. And proportions change, as extra weight is added to the skeleton. This isn’t a value judgment: it’s why it’s often hard to find clothes with the right shoulder proportions, or armholes that fit properly, or sleeves the right width.

    The truth is, it is just REALLY hard to fit most women’s shapes. Men’s shapes, which vary much less, are DESIGNED to be altered! And at least until recently, a good men’s department would have a resident tailor – and alterations would be free! Whereas women, who vary more from the get-go, have less to choose from, have to pay for alterations, and think there’s something wrong with THEM, not the clothes, if the clothes don’t fit right! Men buy clothes expecting to alter the clothes to fit them; women buy clothes expecting to alter their bodies to fit the clothes. It isn’t right!

    I know most of us would love to have the convenience of endless choices in the right sizes for each of us, but the truth is, it’s luck of the draw, and learning some basic sewing skills can be very liberating. So can choosing to limit one’s wardrobe, and rely on paying a good seamstress to MAKE things to fit. Have fewer, better clothes that last longer. Make them, or get them made, in the fabrics and colours you actually like. Support the stores you like when you do find them, because it’s prohibitively expensive to produce a clothing line – I know designers who wanted to do plus-size, and just couldn’t afford the money it would cost them. The start-up money is really frightening – and I’ll bet it’s tighter than ever, these days. If you find a niche producer on the internet, support that vendor! Don’t expect to be able to pay what standard sizes pay in the cheap chain shops, because the reason those clothes are so cheap is because the men, women and children who make those garments aren’t being paid a living wage.

    Comment by La BellaDonna — January 27, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

  36. ChloeMireille: You bring up an excellent point. I’d like to remind my sisters with Fabulous Bottoms that when your Fabulous Bottom hikes your skirt up two, three, five inches in back: remember to hem your skirt in front so that it’s even all the way around. You may even want to re-think that skirt or dress when you see how short that makes it. Yes, that IS the view we are getting from behind, it DOES look that short. If the fabric permits, consider letting down the back hem. This DOES mean that on commercially-made skirts and dresses, the hem will slant and look funny on the inside of the dress. Anybody that close to you will not be thinking about the inside of your dress, fortunately. My sisters who are wide from side to side need to hem their skirts in the front AND back to match where their hips are hiking up the hem on the sides. If you have a big abdomen pulling up your dress or skirt in the front, shorten it through the back hem so it’s level. Everyone will look much more fabulous when the hemlines are made to actually suit the wearer.

    Comment by La BellaDonna — January 27, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

  37. My apologies to Plummie for being so long-winded; I am passionate about cut and fit, because I have done a LOT of it, and have made clothes for women of all different sizes; I’m used to analyzing body shapes and proportions in a way that most women are not.

    Christine, from what you’ve said (38F, size 16 and my hips are flat. My room I need in my waist makes the rear and legs bag and sag) – visualize your body. Large upper body, smaller waist, smallest at the rear and hips: V. You are the classic V-shape/upside down triangle/”athletic” figure. You and the apple can often wear the same garments. Think of all the late 30s-early-to-mid-40s clothes, with their broad shoulders and narrow hips. You will be able to wear straight skirts, where a pear cannot. You can also wear trumpet skirts – narrow through the hip, flaring at the hem. I can’t wear them to save my life, and of course, I love them. C’est la guerre. Vogue patterns marks its patterns with icons to show what body shapes the pattern will flatter: V, X, /\, l. It might be worth going to their website to look at different patterns, see the designs that are recommended for the different body types.

    Comment by La BellaDonna — January 27, 2010 @ 8:09 pm

  38. I’m an apple. I think it is actually easier to find clothes that fit (especially jeans) but pears just look prettier! I would kill for a flatter stomach!

    Comment by jayne — January 28, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

  39. I’m a pear. A weird pear. I’m 5’4,I have a 40D bust, a 36 inch waist and 52 inches hips. Sigh. Who looks like that? Sure, my belly is relatively flat and I can spanx it down to nothing, but I cannot wear anything off the rack from plus size stores.

    I have to shop like a schizo–I’m still running around Anthropologie for tops and can squeeze into Gap bottoms, but if I need a suit or a straight skirt, I’m plum out of luck or I have to run to LB or to Tahari suits. However, EVERYTHING i buy from plus size designers goes from the store to the tailors immediately. Everything has to be taken in, hemmed and let out appropriately. And if I want a suit, I have to be the girl who secretly buys a 14w top and 18w bottom (don’t judge me–this is a safe space)

    I think it’s rough. But, I also think it’s rough for apples. Most styles of clothing for women are essentially styles that flatter a flat tummy and comparatively wider hips and busts. and that’s for straight and plus sizes. Then again, apples DO have some rockin gams and this particular pear’s gams are a lil jiggly; there are never any shorts in my summer and there haven’t been since I was about 13.

    The grass is always greener on the other side.

    Comment by Bellamezzo — January 28, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

  40. I’m a pear and have nothing against apples — some of my best friends are apples — but would prefer that clothing makers recognize that there is a wide variety of skirt lengths that are preferred by a wide variety of customers. I like my skirts 37-45″ long. NO ONE sells this except HolyClothing which I love but which is not appropriate for all occasions.

    Comment by Jane — January 29, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

  41. Well 39. Bellamezzo obviously looked in my sock drawer and copied my pre-baby stats. (The ones kept so the DH could order surprises w/o asking for measurements an action that kind of nullifies the surprise aspect.) Oh and I bike and dance so yeah my calves are a little bit big. I have been pleasantly surprised by some of the tall boots Silhouettes carries. Some of them fit my calves as do some of the David Tate boots. I order the extra wide and then wear a ridged insole.

    As for pants I have a little bit of a tummy from the baby so I can only fit a nutria in at the waist with me rather then a badger. I just buy a larger size high waisted jeans a little short so they catch at the hips since they will fall off my waist anyway. I then wear long tops. Not perfect but serviceable.

    Comment by Ceri — January 31, 2010 @ 4:08 am

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