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shadows of echoes of memories of songs
The long and the shorts of it
[One of the two posts I started earlier today, restored from draft]

The other day in a charity shop I tried on a pair of size 8 Karen Millen trousers. Lovely black trousers with POCKETS in a smart warm wool mix. They fit perfectly around the waist, but unfortunately K Millen like every other clothes wallah seems to assume that nobody in the world could possibly be shorter than 5'5", so there were a good 4 inches of superfluous fabric sloshing around my feet. I suspect the chances of being able to take up something so subtly boot-cut effectively are small; the chances of me being able to do the alterations are below zero. So I didn't buy them.

But if I'm actually a size 8 now (I mean, what?), or rather if clothes-size inflation has meant that my normal size 12ish has been rebranded as a size 8, does that mean I'd fit into these Orla Kiely cropped trousers? After all, if they're meant to be cropped, there's a chance they won't be too long for me.

Also, why doesn't every shop do what Marks and Spencers do, and offer 'short', 'regular', 'long' options for all their trousers? I always wondered as a kid why my grandma and my mum thought so highly of M&S, a shop which I associated with middle-aged people. But now it all makes sense. See, my mum and my grandma are both about my height... and I'm rushing headlong into the middle age I've been aspiring to for years.
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monkeyhands From: monkeyhands Date: November 28th, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think this post might lead us into a tedious anecdata-filled discussion about women's sizes, but essentially the issue is this (as if you didn't know): that women are divided into sizes like 8, 10, 12, etc rather than being able to buy trousers where the waist, hip and length are measured in inches. Not only that, but the definition of 8, 10, 12, etc, varies both over time and from shop to shop at the same moment.

Which forces women into a perpetual process of calculation and trying things on and generally being messed about. We're forced to remember that we're an M&S 12 but a New Look 10, and that nothing in Top Shop fits at all because you need a waist:hip ratio of 1:1.

What puzzles me about your experience is that the posher shops tend to cut their sizes smaller as well as making them for taller people. I would've thought that a Karen Millen 8 would be equivalent to a 6 in a shop like M&S.

Mind you, I do have a pair of Karen Millen trousers (also from a charity shop)and I think they're cut large for the size (10) too.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 28th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
The remembering sizes/shops is even harder if you basically only ever buy things from charity shops; you have to remember that you're a 10 in new M&S but a 14-16 in M&S stuff from the 70s or 80s, and so on. But even if something is "my size" that's no guarantee that it'll fit nicely/comfortably, so I really do think the best thing to do is try things on. No calculation involved, that way, except "does this feel right on me" and/or "is it nice enough that I'm prepared to spend this amount of money on it"? ... though I am getting better at being able to tell by looking at trousers whether they're supposed to pull up to the waist rather than somewhere around the middle of the arse.

Men's clothes aren't that much better, IME; it's hard to find a pair of trousers in the right waist/leg because they make similar assumptions to women's clothes about what the 'normal' ratio is (though I suppose it's easier to see at a glance that none of them will fit), and shirts are sold by neck size. And there's still the same problem of what the clothes are designed to look like, if you see what I mean -- does 38" chest mean it's designed to be a snug fit on a 38" chest, or a baggy fit? And then lots of men's clothes just have S/M/L instead of inches anyway. And then there's Muji which has sizes 0 and 1 or something similarly stupid. Anyway.

I was really surprised at the Karen Millen trousers, too; I've got a Karen Millen suit in a size 10 and it is really just that bit too small but it was so awesome that I had to buy it anyway. Sigh. I should probably sell it, or give it to someone who might fit in it. Do you want a black skirt suit with weird corset-like lacing up the sides? :-)
monkeyhands From: monkeyhands Date: November 28th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
The remembering sizes/shops is even harder if you basically only ever buy things from charity shops; you have to remember that you're a 10 in new M&S but a 14-16 in M&S stuff from the 70s or 80s

Oh, yeah, totally. The "vintage" wedding dress I gave away the other day was labelled a 12 but now it would sooooo be a 6.

Do you want a black skirt suit with weird corset-like lacing up the sides? :-)

[making excited panting noises] Yes please! Assuming it fits, that is...
juggzy From: juggzy Date: November 28th, 2008 06:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you tried it on lately? It might be a better fit now.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 28th, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't tried it on for a while, no, but the problem is that my back/chest/arms are too big for the jacket, & I really don't think I can lose weight off them. I think I was just fooling myself that it ever fit, really. :-(
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: November 28th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

Just asking, honest ....

Do you actually want to fit into those Orla Kiely cropped trousers? They look like an opthamologist went mad with occluders and ink after a heavy day intoning "look at my nose, that's right, what's the frog doing now?"... and then thought "Right, this'll get the little bastards wondering what they're looking at... REVENGE IS MINE 1!11!!"
j4 From: j4 Date: November 28th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Just asking, honest ....


Honestly, I think they're lovely! Big bold 70s-ish print. The thing I can't tell from here is how tight around the legs they are, so they'd probably turn out to make me look like a lumpy pumpkin, but the pattern's gorgeous and cropped trousers are good for cycling.
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j4 From: j4 Date: November 28th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Er, I buy pants at M&S too... and I know what size I am there, and they give the corresponding measurements in inches on the back of the packets so I can check if they've changed them. I don't buy all my clothes at M&S, though (I don't buy new clothes that much anyway). And knowing what size I am in knickers doesn't help at all with knowing what size I am in shirts.

Or by "pants" do you mean "trousers"?
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j4 From: j4 Date: November 28th, 2008 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm confused. What chain breaks down? What exactly are you saying is weird gurl-behaviour on my part?

I do buy trousers in M&S -- it's the only place I can guarantee being able to get smart comfortable trousers. When I was a rebellious teenager who wanted to dress in crazy tie-dye shit, I thought M&S was the sort of place mums shopped; now I realise that's because mums are sensible and want to buy quality clothes that will last (and also because mum is short & M&S is good for trousers for short people). If I bought pants for myself, I tended to buy them in places like BeWise (M&S, being a place where grown-ups shopped, was too expensive; BeWise was like the poundstretcher of clothes).

But I always try to buy second-hand clothes when I can. So M&S is not my default place to buy stuff; charity shops are my default place to buy stuff. I do look out for M&S stuff in charity shops, though, because I know M&S's sizing & I "trust the brand".

I don't buy second-hand pants. END OF.

I think you may be giving my throwaway post about seeing some nice trousers more thought than it really deserves. :-}
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ewx From: ewx Date: November 28th, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I do too normally, except last time I went in they had none that would both fit me and that I was willing to wear. No wonder there's a retail meltdown underway.
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