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The long and short of it

Lynda 'long legs' Moyo tries to find some jeans which actually fit

Published on September 10th 2007.

The long and short of it

It’s official. Women’s clothes sizes have now reached an all new level of absurdity. As if size zero wasn’t bad enough, tall girls are still finding that in the 21 Century, High Street stores still aren’t catering for our pins. And it’s no joy for petites either.

When you’ve spent your entire life seemingly wading around in unintentional pedal pushers, trousers that are too long are like a dream come true.

A survey conducted by Bodymetrics revealed that 60% of UK shoppers have difficulty finding clothes that fit and the tallest women are in the 25-34 age group. Overall UK women are taller, lighter and smaller (girth) than their US counterparts.

In the quest to find the perfect pair of jeans, I took my 36 inch long legs and my friend Milan, along with her 28 inch short legs to the high street. What we found was that whereas most retailers claim to cater for out of the norm sizes with labels such as ‘petites’ and ‘tall’, few actually fit the bill.

Starting with Next, I rummaged through the rails to find ‘long’ jeans measuring in at a shoddy 31 inch inside leg. For Milan, luckily the petites measure up at 27 inch inside leg. A good start for the shorties. Onto Zara, and the story was the opposite. In fact the jeans were so long that they trailed on the floor, swamping even my legs. But trust me, when you’ve spent your entire life seemingly wading around in unintentional pedal pushers, trousers that are too long are like a dream come true. For Milan however, not so much. Zara only do one length and that is long, long, long. Oasis has always been a popular High Street chain yet when it comes to long legs apparently long is 34 inches and petites are simply non existent. So why is it that the High Street just isn’t catering for a wider (and longer) spectrum of customer?

According to Tania Fauvel from www.bodymetrics.com who specialise in making made-to-measure jeans, there is no standard sizing system. She said: “There are huge discrepancies on some jeans brands for example a jean labeled 32 inch waist may actually be 36 inches in reality. Retailers focus on selling disposable fashion rather than innovation on fit.”

Unfortunately, Bodymetrics, who create their bespoke jeans using a pod system which scans your body to get your exact measurements, is currently only available at Selfridges in London with creations starting at a whopping £450. So despite having the right idea, it’s neither cost effective nor nearby.

There are some companies who have taken it upon themselves to cater for this problem. For petite girls there is www.reet-petite.com.ukand www.petiteaffair.co.uk which both make affordable fashionable clothes for ladies under 5’3”. At the other end of the scale, www.longtallsally.com and www.tallgirls.co.uk are flying a long flag for those over 5’8”.

Joanne McHarg, founder of Tall Girls said: “As a 6’3” girl with size 10 feet I had become increasingly frustrated at the lack of choice in fashionable footwear for girls my size. I either had to settle for men’s shoes and ankle swinger jeans or do something about it. I launched with a very small, but fashionable range of footwear, and then two years later introduced a clothing range exclusively for tall fashion conscious girls. The High Street do not stock specialist sizes simply because it would not be cost effective for them; High Street stores offer average sizes in high volume at reasonable prices – this is what they specialise in. They would not see a big enough return on their investment to justify stocking specialist sizes.”

What retailers need to realise is that 32 inches is rarely the leg length of a very tall woman. Yes, some women such as Trinny Woodall are tall with long bodies, but retailers answer me this: If you’re going to make long jeans for us longer legged ladies, why do you only give us half measures? You’re just teasing us.

It’s clearly the same for petite girls too. Shops claim they are catering for all shapes and sizes, but really it seems like they just slap a ‘petites’ label on a corner of their store and hope no one under 5’3” will notice. If you’re above or under average height you may as well be classed as in need of therapy, not retail therapy.

Stores make clothes to fit Jo-anne Bloggs and not 5’11” Lynda Moyo nor 5’0” Milan Symon as well as thousands of other women across the country. That is, everyone but a select few including Topshop and Dorothy Perkins who do a full range, as they should. So it’s a big thumbs up for those leading the way. The sooner other retailers start making a true range of lengths and sizes, the happier the customers will be. After all, its happy customers that make for happy shopping and big spending.

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all about legsSeptember 10th 2007.

Try New Look too, although the range is small they are doing good things in the tall section - up to 36" but even in there standard ranges they go up to 34"

Legs and Curves too!September 10th 2007.

It is even worse if you have long legs and wait for it shock horror...a bottom. god knows how many jeans i have had to try on which are too short, tight on my bum and gaping at the waist.

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