We Talked To 69 Tall People About Shopping For Clothes That Actually Fit
By Olivia Muenter | 12 hours ago
Even though it's supposed to be fun, for many people, shopping and finding clothes that actually fit is an emotional, difficult, and frustrating process. In a fashion industry where sizing is inconsistent and largely exclusive to people with bodies that don't fit into a standardized mold, shopping for clothing can be downright depressing. For individuals over 5 feet 9 inches, shopping can be an especially frustrating process. According to a 2016 report from the U.S. Department of Health And Human Services, the average height of an American woman is around 5 feet 3.5 inches. While vanity sizing and a generally complicated history of sizing in the U.S. has made standardized sizing more confusing than ever, generally speaking, most women's clothing caters to those who are close to this average height. Naturally, this leads to sleeve lengths, pant lengths, and dresses which are almost always designed for a person who is 6 or more inches shorter than a tall woman.
Regardless of height, though, shopping can be a difficult process for any woman (or person, for that matter). In an effort to get to the bottom of people's biggest frustrations with shopping, learn their best tips, and share their favorite places to find something that fits, Bustle surveyed more than 400 people of many different sizes and body types about shopping, sizing, and how they feel about it all. This included getting the perspective of 69 people who self-identified as tall. Of those 69 people, 8.7 percent fell into a size 00-4, 31.9 percent fell into the size of 4-8, 43.5 percent identified as size 10-14, and 15.9 percent identified as 14-18 or above.
What They Think About Shopping & Sizing In General
Almost 90 percent of those surveyed noted they had never used a sizing app, which ultimately reflected a larger trend we saw in the survey - that, regardless of their size or body type, the vast majority of individuals don't know their measurements at all.
Less surprisingly, those surveyed who identified as tall noted that length is a reoccuring problem when it comes to tops, bottoms, and dresses.
Nicky Bates, a Detroit-based marketing and development associate, is 6 feet tall and a size 16/18. Bates tells Bustle that finding plus size clothing that is also the right length is a particular struggle.
"Most of my shirts with longer sleeves are 3/4 sleeve length on me, but were made to be full length. I'm a triathlete so I swim a lot and have chubby/muscular biceps and broad shoulders. In most shirts, I have to go up a size to fit my arms and shoulders even if the size down fit the rest of me," Bates says.
Some people surveyed mentioned other work-arounds for problems like these, with one suggesting "going a size larger to get more length in shirts then tucking/tying them in the sleeves, waist, etc. to fit."
What They Think About Shopping In Store Versus Online
Of those surveyed, only 2.9 percent said they shop either in-store only or online only. Interestingly, despite online shopping have far more access to niche sizing for tall people, more than 53 percent of those surveyed said they shop mostly in store and sometimes online. Alternatively, almost 41 percent of those surveyed said they shop mostly online and sometimes in stores.
When asked in the survey about their favorite places to shop in store, one person who identified as tall simply wrote, "Makeup stores lol, clothes shopping can be overwhelming and I need to be in the zone and not annoyed with people."
This quote perfectly highlights the general frustration that many people can feel with shopping in stores that often don't have sizes that work for their bodies. When clothing that fits you isn't available, sometimes it's easier to avoid the IRL trying-on process altogether.
But as Dallas-based Customer Service Agent Madison Hunnicutt, who is 6 feet 2 inches and a size 16, tells Bustle, shopping online also presents it's own unique set of problems when you're tall.
"I would say my height is definitely a unique factor when it comes to shopping, especially online shopping. Because you never know when you order something, if it is going to actually fit they way it should," Hunnicutt says.
Hunnicutt's description of the problems of shopping online might explain why so many tall people still opt to shop in store and see the items in real life while shopping.
Bates tells Bustle a similar story about shopping online.
"My size makes me really hesitate to shop online. Sometimes I'll fall in love with a pattern or how it looks on the model and be really disappointed when it doesn't fit," Bates says. "If I do it in store, I just won't buy it, but if I order it online, I'll think that maybe it'll fit one day and it'll sit in my closet forever, unworn. Once I've found something I love (a brand, a dress/shirt style, etc.), I tend to just stick to that. It makes me hesitate to branch out in terms of fashion because often I feel like I couldn't 'pull off' a look because I only see people much smaller than me wearing it."