Most of us have probably asked ourselves, “Why is it so difficult to buy trousers that fit?” Perhaps we’ve even gone so far as to wonder, “What is wrong with my shape?”
Trousers are, without a doubt, one of the most challenging clothes to get correctly, particularly for women. We all bear our weight in different ways, and our shape changes as we grow older. Now that I’m in my forties, I can definitely tell a difference in my waistline. It’s partly due to having children, but it’s also due to normal metabolic changes as we get older.
When I design a pair of hanfu trousers for a client, I consider a number of elements in addition to the standard measurements. The contour of the hips, tummy, thighs, and seat, for example. What is the angle of the hips from front to back, left to right, and the overall posture? Are they round or straight?
Traditional ready-to-wear can only accommodate a basic symmetrical shape, and you’ll only fit into it if you’re lucky. It’s far more common not to, which is why I’d like to provide a few pointers on how to achieve better-fitting trousers and what to look for when buying a pair.
1. Always wear the largest size you have.
When shopping for clothing, a good rule of thumb is to buy the largest size available and then work with an alterations tailor to adjust the rest of the garment to your shape. If your hips are large, ensure sure the trousers have enough room for you to sit properly without having ugly creases across your thighs. The waist should then be brought in to fit.
Examine the waistline of the trousers and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there a rear seam in the middle?
- Are there any belt loops that could get in the way?
- How simple is it to open and detach the cuffs from the trouser legs?
- Are there any pockets in the side seam that would make it more difficult to take it in at this point?
When you’re out shopping, keep these questions in mind to determine if the change will be simple or hard. If you’re unsure, buy them and get guidance from a tailor.
2. Locate a tailor who will perform a fitting with you.
Following up on my previous remark, I would recommend scheduling a fitting with a tailor or dressmaker. Rather from walking in and saying, “I need the waist taken in by 4cm,” have the tailor examine your fit with you. Adjustments to the crotch and inside leg seam are frequently required in addition to taking in or letting out the waist. The greatest method to get a decent result is to seek assistance from an expert. You can read my blog here for ideas on how to choose a decent tailor.
3. Take into account the seam allowance.
To save money on production and materials, most traditional clothes only feature a 1cm seam allowance. Better brands, on the other hand, will have a 2cm seam allowance on the leg seams and 3+cm on the centre back. Taking note of this at the time of purchase will offer you greater leeway for future modifications, especially if you need to let out your favorite pair of trousers. (This is more the case after a year at home!)
4. Purchase multiple pairs.
Because a decent pair of trousers is so hard to come by, I recommend purchasing multiple pairs of the same pattern if you discover one that fits. I get a lot of calls from customers who are sad that their favorite pair is no longer available. Retailers frequently alter their selections, even the most basic models. So don’t count on your favorite design to be available indefinitely.
5. Choose the ideal style for your body type.
Understanding which style best suits you is the first step in finding the perfect pair of trousers. Do you have a long or short waist? In comparison to your torso, are your legs long or short? What is the general form of your body? Stefania, a personal stylist, can advise you on which styles are best for you and, more importantly, where to find them. High rise trousers, for example, are perfect for those with a long waist. They put your body into proportion by optically shortening your torso and lengthening your legs. Alternatively, if your top half is wider than your lower half, you could wear wide-legged trousers to balance things out.
6. Think about the pockets.
Pockets and their location can have a significant impact on the fit of a pair of trousers. Slanted front pockets are more likely to gape open and add bulk where you don’t want it if you have a round tummy. Instead, having pockets in the inseam or choosing ones with a zipper closure may be a better choice.
Patch or jetted pockets with flaps can be placed on the back to help break up the space. Again, it’s critical to evaluate your shape and determine what will work best for you.
Pleats in the trouser legs.
Pleats or crisp wrinkles are excellent for defining the leg and ensuring that it appears clean and lengthy. The vertical line gives the impression of length. The pleats’ direction is also significant. When they face the centre, they bring the gaze inwards, reducing the width of the hips. The opposite is true when folded towards the exterior. As a result, simply reversing the pleat direction can drastically alter the appearance of the trousers.