Thursday, March 18, 2010

You Asked For It: Jeans for Munchkins

I'm 4'11". Accordingly, my legs are very short, not to mention-- as we say in the world of clothing-- "curvy." I am short and curvy. This makes my buying a pants a living nightmare for a whole slew of reasons. Believe it or not, though, being short is not actually my main issue. Buying pants and jeans when you're very short can be a huge hassle, but it's totally doable.

A lovely lady e-mailed me recently asking where I do my jeans shopping. She, too, is 4'11" and has thick legs. We must be twins, and I totally feel her pain 100%.

For the past... oh, God, forever, I've been buying jeans at Old Navy. I know that's not much of fashion secret-- and believe me, they don't have jeans that are actually short enough that I don't have to go to the tailor. I generally buy the "short" fit, which they have in pretty much every style you could want, and then get them hemmed. I usually only buy one pair at a time because I don't wear jeans too often-- mostly a dress/skirt kinda girl-- and they hold up well for a long time. I've actually had strangers compliment the way my jeans look, and they're always surprised to hear that they're not a fancy brand. Basically, for about $25 a pair, they're a great buy. They also have Petites line that I haven't tried which feature 30" inseams (and the Gap petite jeans are 29"). Sadly, 29" would still be about 5" too long.

Unfortunately, if there's a store that has jeans that are made for people with very short legs, I'm not aware of it (but if you are, please say so in the comments!). I think all I can really do here is to give some advice for tailoring pants.

Wash and Dry First

If there's any chance your pants will shrink (and most jeans will, at least to some degree), make sure you've washed them before getting them hemmed. I don't generally dry my jeans-- mostly because I absolutely hate feeling like I gained 50 pounds when I try to pull them on-- but I've had bad experiences in the past with bringing a fresh pair to the tailor and finding they're an inch or two short after a few washes. Even if you don't plan on drying, it can't hurt to put 'em through the wash once or twice to be safe.

Do the Average

One of the most aggravating things by far about getting jeans hemmed is deciding on length. If you're like a lot of girls, you probably own flats, sneakers and heels in some combination. This means, of course, that a good length for flats may not look polished with four-inch heels. Try your pants on at home-- perhaps with help from mom or a friend to do some pinning-- with any and all shoes you plan on wearing with that pair. See if you can find a length that works with all or most of your shoes. If you can't find too many happy, chic mediums, you may need to have, say, a pair of jeans for flats and a pair for heels; unfortunately, it's how the cookie crumbles sometimes. I don't wear skinnies, but I imagine if you like that style you could pretty easily have a pair that works perfectly with everything.

Make sure if you get them pinned in at the tailor, you bring the right pair of shoes (i.e. if you want them fitted so they best fit your 2-inch heels, wear those).

Try Original Hem

I've never tried this because I just found out about it, but the internet shorties seem to think it's potentially the best thing you'll ever do with your pants. Original hem, though a little pricier than a plain ol' hem, is when your pants are hemmed so that the original hem-- surprise!-- is kept intact. There's a full explanation and pictures here. So basically if you find a jean with some funky pattern/detail/stitching at the hem that you love, you don't have to sacrifice it for length. You can ask your tailor to do an original hem or take your new jeans to Nordstrom, where they offer what I hear is some excellent tailoring.

Be Insistant-- Or Do Your Own Pinning

My only gripe about my tailor is that they're adorable, little, old Italian people who are very sure they know what length you want your pants. They never "cheat" when I've actually relinquished the pants, but they often try to talk me out of an inch or so when I get them pinned in the shop. I like my jeans a little long, which they totally think is an awful idea. I got into the habit of pinning them myself-- okay, with the help of Mom, for the sake of evenness-- so that I didn't have to feel pressured to compromise. I just tell them that they're already pinned to the length I want. My tailors do an amazing job for a great price, so I wouldn't want to leave them just because we don't agree on length all the time.

Any short ladies out there want to share some jean shopping tips? Recommend the best tailor in your area? Lament how ridiculous your pants look in the dressing room?

P.S. If there's anything you'd like me to write on, just drop me an e-mail at I'm totally open to your questions and suggestions.


Jem said...

ahh.... its nice to find someone else who is in the same boat as me, short and curvy! it deffently makes shoping for jeans a pain but i do, get my jeans hemed a lot. :)

gypsyariana said...

Yeah for more short, curvy girls! I do like Old Navy jeans, as well. I've had some luck with trouser jeans in the petite department at Kohl's, and also the petite department at JC Penney's. Sometimes if I wear heels, I don't even have to hem them!


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