The Patch

January 27, 2007

Saturday 27th January: Cost Effective, not Vertically Challenged

Filed under: Miscellany — Ames @ 12:57 pm

There have been a lot of things that have annoyed me in the past week. You could say after I mounted my high horse to write last week’s article, I appeared to forget to get off again. Whether it’s taxi drivers that can apparently take up to a month to hand in lost property, or train tickets which now cost the same for a single as they did for a return before Christmas, I have all-too-frequently felt the need to acquire a large stick to whip the world into place. But something that’s really frustrated me is that, yet again, my new jeans have started to fray at the bottom. Yes, you did read that correctly; I’ve lost my purse (containing a debit card, driving license, uni ID card, National insurance number and £10 amongst various other pieces of plastic) forked out £26 for a mere 2 hours on the train and children are starving to death in Africa, but it’s my fraying jeans that I’ve chosen to rant about.

The really frustrating thing is that I’ve only had the jeans for a week. The honeymoon period that occurs when one finds the seemingly perfectly fitting item of clothing hadn’t even had time to wear off yet. I did everything I could to try and prolong it- folding the bottoms up so they were less likely to drag on the ground, only wearing them when I was actually going out, and not wearing them when I had a long walk ahead of me. Yet once again I am defeated by my jeans being about three inches too long for me, despite them being a ‘short’ fit. This is the problem with clothing shops today; whoever makes them lives in a world of perfection, full of perfectly proportioned women of Amazonian height. Translated to the real world, this means that almost everybody will have trouble finding clothes to fit, whether it’s because they’re actually a nonexistent size 11, or because shops seem to think that if you’re large or small in one area, then that’s what you’re like all over. Or that ‘petit’ people are still all the same height; never have I seen a leg length lesser than 28″, and even those are exceptionally rare. More common is the 30″ (described as ‘short’ or ‘ankle length/court’ by some American chains), which are still almost as hard to come by as Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. Which means that when you do eventually find a pair of jeans that don’t drag like a bride’s train they fray anyway, wardrobe choice being so limited that the jeans get worn all the time. Oh, and because they’re usually still too long.

One suggested solution to this problem was to buy children’s clothes. That would be perfectly fine for those few members of the population who have no hips, waists or breasts, and who don’t mind going around advertising Barbie or with embroidery on their trousers more suited to 12-year-olds. For those of us who grew out of cutesy designs and into curves, this isn’t a feasible option. Why should we not be able to follow fashion, and be punished, just because we’re not what is supposedly ‘average height’. We have a high-street store dedicated to the curvier women amongst us, and it can be assumed that more of Evans’ customers would be able to make a difference to their body, allowing them to shop elsewhere, than us shorter members of society. If tall and curvy women can be catered for, then why are petit sections so few and far between? And what’s more, why are the petit sections that do exist so small, and, quite frankly, pretty awfu? It’s not as if there is likely to be a lack of demand; a survey taken in 2005 states that the average height for a woman is 5″4, and 5″3 in the Midlands and Wales. This means that there are as many people who are considered ‘petit’ in most shops (generally 5″3 and below) as there are who will fit into a regular clothing range. Yet if I, at 5″3 and so at the upper end of this ‘petit’ scale, have trouble finding clothes that fit, imagine the problems faced by those shorter than I. Moreover, if I, at 5″3, find even some ‘short’ trousers inches too long, this means that they would, presumably, be too long for a woman who is counted of ‘average’ height too. So why is our problem continually overlooked (pun unintentional)?

So is this lack of catering for short people just one big con, ensuring the fraying of our clothes and so repeat customers in shops? Is picking on the petit the high street’s secret money making scheme? This hardly seems fair when the ‘vertically challenged’ amongst us are most cost effective; less material to cover us= more money lining the pockets of Phillip Green and his cronies. Us shorter people should be the subject of worship by clothing manufacturers, not discriminated against.

Admittedly it’s not just the ‘short’ who have problems shopping, but sometimes it does feel as though we’re forgotten about, that people, both literally and figuratively, look straight over the top of us. Don’t talk to me about a lack of demand; the statistics speak for themselves: short is no longer short, it’s average height. What equates to being a certain size has recently changed, many stores adding inches to what it means to be a typical size 8, 12 or 16, after statistics showed that we are a nation growing outwards. If these definitions can change, why can’t we rethink what is considered to be ‘petit’?

It took a while, but I’ve now grown into being ‘short’; there are actually a lot of advantages to being of a smaller stature. We can wear heels without feeling like a giant, and don’t have to worry about making men feel small. We’re less likely to feel cramped on a plane or train, we’re better at playing hide and seek, and, as demonstrated by Gabrielle in Desperate Housewives, if we ever need to make a quick escape from a hotel room, it’s much easier for us to curl up and hide in a suitcase. The only time I ever get frustrated about my height is when I examine the bottom of my trousers, having spent hours shopping around for the perfectly fitting pair, just to find them destroyed merely weeks later. High Street stores are supposed to be the ones that cater for the masses, not an idealised version of it. ‘Petit’ is the new black, it’s just one trend that the High Street is has missed. Come on shops, we’re waiting…



  1. I hear you loud and clear. I’ve only ever seen one shop designated for “petite” people, and the selection was horrid. I tried on some pants and they made me look so shapeless, yet at the same time lumpy. It was unreal. Also, I think it’s kind of nice that you write about “less important” problems like this because everyone writes about big injustices. SOMEBODY has to take it upon herself to call attention to injustices like this!

    Comment by Amie — January 27, 2007 @ 4:20 pm | Reply

  2. Well this annoys me too, but for the opposite reason, I’m too tall for jeans, ‘long length’ jeans even manage to end up half way up my leg, and even the ones that are alright go half mast when I sit down. Admittedly not such an expensive problem as yours, but I feel your pain.

    Comment by Claire — January 27, 2007 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

  3. Fee’s 5′ 1″ and gets all her trousers/jeans/etc from Mark One, and suits trousers and stuff from debenhams or principles I think. I know that’s not like… solving anything really :p But like… she always has trousers that fit her!

    Comment by Emma — January 28, 2007 @ 4:26 pm | Reply

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