With this post I confess I’m treading into what are, for me, uncharted waters. I am (obsessively) familiar with bras and breast-related foundation garments and clothing because my boobs are the primary reason I struggle to find clothes or lingerie that fit. While I also struggle to find shoes big enough and pants long enough (huge tangent: I found the holy grail of jeans last year, and I went back to the store this week and tried on the exact same brand, style, size, and wash, and the pair in-store is two inches shorter and at least a size tighter than the pair I have at home, and I AM SAD ABOUT IT), I don’t generally have to worry about a garment’s fitting around my rear and hips. Sometimes I fuss with the fit around my belly, but by and large fit issues Downstairs are height/foot related. But as the reader requests began coming in asking for advice on knickers and clothes for curvy bottoms, I really had to sit up and take notice, and DANG, Y’ALL. As hard as it is to get the word out about clothes/lingerie for curvy chests, the general acceptance, understanding, and options for women with rears and hips of varying sizes are wayyyy behind.
Here’s an example. Remember Bravissimo’s size chart for their Alana bra?
That’s over 80 different sizes, and it doesn’t even include the large number of women who wear smaller than a D-cup or larger than a 40-band. So many sizes! It also doesn’t take into account women who don’t find the Alana bra flattering to their breast shape or placement, so they have to seek out a different bra style. With all that variety Upstairs, it’s really ludicrous to assume that all women will just so happen to wear somewhere between a size 2-12 in jeans, for example, or that they’ll all wear the same cut. It’s equally ludicrous to assume that all women’s hips and rears come in the same shapes and proportions. For example, boyshorts are often touted as great solutions and “flatterers” of women with fuller bottoms, thighs, or hips, but that’s like telling women with breasts that they should wear “wrap dresses”. I have NEVER found a wrap dress that truly worked for me without tugging and pinning and discomfort, and for a long time I thought the problem was me (it’s not you — it’s your bra; it’s not you — it’s your clothes). So saying “this [blanket style] works for EVERYONE with curvy hips!” is setting us up for disappointment.
Since my understanding of good and varied fit for women’s lower halves is still poor, I reached out to some other lingerie bloggers, completely unprepared for the outpouring of wonderful shopping suggestions, reviews, resources, and empathy. I’m going to link to them extensively, because their research and reviews have been very thorough and helpful [Administrative note: all these bloggers (and others) now appear in the list of Lingerie Links on the right. Check them out!]. I’m going to break these suggestions up into parts and start with clothes, jeans first, because as someone in the midst of a jeans hunting ordeal myself, I wish to spare others my pain.
One of the most immediate and most popular responses I got was PZI Jeans. Located in the US, the brand is available in several shops and boutiques (primarily East Coast) and at the PZI Jeans Denim Suite in Tucker, Georgia. Jeans are available in US sizes 4-18, in FOUR different lengths, and all styles (full length, capri, short, distressed, etc. etc.) take fullness in the hips and rear compared to the waist into account. All jeans are priced around $80 or under, there are multiple cuts, colors, styles, and washes available, and they’re modeled by beautifully curvy women. There’s also a small selection of tops and tees. Georgina, Sophia, and June (who got to visit the PZI Jeans Denim Suite) have all reviewed different styles of PZI Jeans, and all have high praise. I encourage you to check out the reviews to see what styles might best suit your individual figure, as well as the PZI Jeans size chart and measuring instructions for the best fit. Here are some of my favorite styles:
Little in the Middle (warning: there’s a video on the home page, so if you’re at work make sure your volume is lowered)
Erica of A Sophisticated Pair recommended Little in the Middle to me. Their “One Up” sizing charts make so much sense to any women who has ever wished that she could have one size to fit her waist and “one up” to fit her hips and rear. Their style names are all adjectives: “Bold, Empowered, and Confident,” and each style comes in multiple colors (and in some cases various levels of distress). Prices range from $45-130, although all styles are currently on sale.
When Levi’s Curve ID fit program launched a few years ago, I know I was not alone in my reservations. I had found a Levi’s cut I liked, and now the numbered styles we’d known were being replaced. Also, while the ads touted varying levels of curviness, there was an unfortunate lack of body diversity among the campaign models, which undermined the message. I went in for a fitting and was fitted into what at the time was the curviest option (Bold, which now has “Supreme” as one curviness level above it). I do not have particularly full hips and until I took up pole dancing I had a rather flat butt, so I couldn’t really figure out how these jeans were supposed to help women who had more curves than I did. Regardless, Levi’s doesn’t make an inseam long enough for my liking, so I wrote them off. However, I’m happy to report that multiple bloggers responded with praise for Levi’s Curve ID, particularly the newer Supreme Curve. June reviews them here, and Denocte and Erica also recommend giving them a try. All styles are available in sizes 27-34, in three different washes and three different lengths (though it appears only one rise), and full price is around $80 per pair.
Denim is somewhat further ahead than business or formal clothing in terms of offering varied size ranges. Yes, many of us love and rely on jeans on a daily or every-weekend basis, but it can be harder to build a well-fitting professional wardrobe without having a tailor on retainer. Several bloggers had some smaller, curve-specific retailers to suggest, as well as some mass-market retailers who offer curvier cuts.
Darlene of Hourglassy recommended Crescendo Apparel, which offers a small collection of skirts, dresses, cardigans, jackets, and fitted tops (curiously, no pants and few skirts), all designed for smaller waists and fuller hips, ranging from size 0 to 20. I suspect that these pieces will flatter smaller-to-average busts best, while women with more pronounced hourglass figures might struggle to fit their busts as well as their hips. There are some great building blocks for a business casual wardrobe available, and many could easily transition from classroom or office to weekend.
Fitlogic is currently in its early stages, but it hopes eventually to offer pants, dresses, and skirts that will flatter women of all different shapes and sizes. To shop, you have to complete a fit survey, at which point you will receive your Fitlogic size and shape. Fitlogic currently offers two styles of office-appropriate pants in two lengths, five colors, in sizes 0-20 (plus one of three Fitlogic sizes). Both styles are washable, which is nice! Fitting, shipping, and ordering do require a bit of legwork on the customer’s part, and each garment is custom-made, so there is a longer shipping time, but Fitlogic does accept returns if you’re dissatisfied.
Erica also suggested a few mass-market retailers who offer curvier cuts or styles, although sometimes online-only. In particular, she directed me to:
Banana Republic offers several different cuts, including the “Martin“, designed for curvier figures. Most styles are available in sizes 00-16, Short, Regular, and Tall, in a range of colors and fabrics. These options are more business than business-casual.
Like Banana Republic, Ann Taylor offers a “Curvy” category of pants and work trousers, including cords and jeans this time, cut narrower at the waist and fuller through the hips. All are available in sizes 00-18, Regular, Tall, and Petite. Loft’s curvy fit is called the “Julie“, and the offerings are slightly cheaper and more casual, with sizes 00-18 (24-34) Regular, Tall, and Petite. Loft’s denim for curvier girls is identified simply as “Curvy“, the size range is the same, 24-34 Regular, Tall, and Petite, and the line includes some fun, on-trend colors and prints.
I’ll also direct you back to Pin Up Girl Clothing, which I first mentioned in the full-bust shopping post. Very often the model’s measurements are listed as well as the dress’s, so you can get any idea of how a garment might fit you, and while many of the clothes and styling are geared to the pin-up look, there are some lovely little black dresses, pencil skirts, and A-line skirts that could suit tamer wardrobes just as well. I personally found the skirts on the dresses I ordered from PUG to run both full and long, which means that you’ll get plenty of coverage, along with a narrowed waist. Remember to sign up for an account before you place your order to simplify any returns or exchanges.
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Just a reminder as you start shopping: much like your boobs, the rest of your body might be a finicky fit. One store’s Curvy might not work for you, not because you’re weird or wrong, but because you carry your curves in your rear, and their styles would better fit someone who carries her curves in her hips, or because the rise is too high or too low for your taste. You may find that you still prefer to buy pants and have them tailored rather than limit yourself to just a few online retailers. That’s totally okay too! If you really, really like a pair of pants and just wish the back gapped less, a good tailor can nip the waistband in for you easily. Finding good fit is hard work, and it can be discouraging, but I hope you remember that it’s not you: it’s the clothes. It really, really is.
A HUGE thanks to Braless in Brasil, A Sophisticated Pair, Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, Hourglassy, By Baby’s Rules, and Kurvendiskussionen for leaping to my rescue with such great suggestions. I hope you all find them helpful, and if you continue to have questions just let me know.
Part 2: Knickers to follow!