A gripe and a revelation

Today I went proper clothes shopping, it’s been a while since I did that. I said “proper” clothes shopping because usually clothes shopping for me means fabric shopping 😉

I had a specific target in mind: trousers. In particular the appropriate-for-work kind. Even though we are heading into another heat wave here in WA, Summer is sure to run out of puff sometime or other and site-safe steel-capped boots don’t look all that good under a pencil skirt either.

My need is far greater than the speed at which I could make them, mainly because they are far down a list of things I want to sew now. Summer things, dresses, mostly. I’m not lacking in pant patterns and it’s also not that I am scared to sew them. I am half-way through a pair of jeans that appear to be a win, and I made a work-appropriate pair several years ago (taking a pattern from my favourite Shanton’s pants that I wore to death and then couldn’t find again) and I did a good job of those too.

No, today was rtw purchase day. So I took myself off to the local mall where I intended to first try Target and then my fall back, Portmans. I started at Target because recently they have upped their image and have a lot of really good quality items, on-trend and at reasonable prices.  I’m not sure if Target here in Australia is like Target in America but for you Kiwi’s it’s kind of like Farmers. I love Portmans’ pants, I’ve owned them before but I really didn’t want to spend $90 – $120 or a single pair today, but they were there if all else failed.

In Target I started in the “younger” section, they had a wide selection or styles. I chose two and because I swing between a size 12 or 14, depending on brand, I grabbed one in each size. Cut to the dressing room where the size 14 was way too tight I was back out again, smiling to the counter girl, handing back my tag. There weren’t any size 16’s in the “young” section…So I figured there must be more pants in this huge store and wandered around a bit until I came across the “City Women’s” area, more business style pants. I selected four styles, and thinking I had learn’t from the “young” section I meekly grabbed each in a size 16. Smiling at the counter girl, I entered the curtained cubical and tried on my first pair…you want a lesson in non-standard industry sizing? You got it sister. These pants swam on me, I could actually put both my legs into one pant leg and almost pull it off over my head. So after stripping me of my self esteem at the front of the store, now I am just utterly confused. I didn’t bother trying on the other three pairs, another smile at the counter girl, back to the hangers, back to my first plan, one of each in a size 12 and 14. Sigh, back in the change room, I felt I should introduce myself to the counter girl. Oh great, now the size 14 is a tiny bit big and the 12 is, again, inappropriately tight.

No need to tell you this is the point at which I gave up and left the store.

Cue Portmans, where they had a couple of sale racks and I was sure I’d find a perfectly fitting pair, I’ve never had any problems there before right?


I found 2 pairs in the sale rack and one other pair. I confidently grabbed two of them in size 14, and one size 12 just in case. The 14’s were too big (ok, so I’m a Portman’s size 12, good), thank goodness the 12 fitted me perfectly…in the leg…Oh but the crotch was a whole other story, you know what Camel Toe is? Yeah…

That’ll go down nicely on the construction site, exit stage left.

This time I gave up for completely, home for lunch went this little ruffled kiwi.

Really, should I have expected anything better?.

So now it looks like the only solution was the one I pushed aside earlier on. I will have to fall back to making my own pants.

Lucky my good friend Jacquie gave me an amazing book: Making Trousers for Men & Women by David Page Coffin. I had a good flick through it when I first received it and it is full of beautiful photographs and is extremely well written. It comes with a 2-hour DVD as well which I am about to put on while I eat my lunch.


Jacquie, thank you so much, you’re timing couldn’t be better  xx

I’ll be thoroughly reading your wonderful present to me cover-to-cover tonight.

Ladies tell me I am not alone, please…

10 thoughts on “A gripe and a revelation

  1. See, we’re all in the same boat. What I wanna know is who does fit RTW clothes without a few, um, strategically placed safety pins and shallow breathing. Good luck with the pants making.

  2. I definitely know what you mean! I hate pant-shopping, or any kind of clothes shopping for that matter. I currently live in Berlin, and clothes here are just not made for short, hispanic (curvy) people, so whenever I want something I know that I`ll have to visit tons of stores to get it…. I am glad that I am learning to sew. If I could just get a hang-on altering a pattern to accomodate my voluptous upper body……

    Good luck with the pants. I love the things that I have seen here.

    • Keep up the learning ad you’ll get there. It’s taken me a while but I really know my body now. I know that I always need to cut the pattern for my hip measurement and then take it in at the waist and I also know I need to add in extra length at the waist because I have a long torso. That’s what is so great about sewing for ourselves don’t you think? You get to learn (and love) your body and make things that look amazing on you. Go the curvy girls! 🙂

  3. You definitely aren’t alone!! I find clothes shopping very frustrating especially since I have gained weight! I find it interesting you have Target! I love Target for house things but haven’t looked at the clothes lately. I admire your sewing skills!! I’m not at the trousers level yet but I bought some gorgeous linen I’m going to cut for some simple pull on pants.

  4. I think just about everyone has problems with buying trousers / jeans. I don’t make many pants but my purchased pants from the past few years all gape at the waist and fit on the hips – I can’t fathom it, as I have a wide post-kids waist, but it means they sag – and these are pants that apparently fit me! BTW I have the David Coffin trousers book too and it’s great – clear instructions and lots of ideas and examples.

  5. I am so glad it is not just me!! I have been a Target size 12 for a few years, but had to buy jeans last year – the 12’s were wayyyy too tight, yet the 14’s are slightly too big.

    That book looks good – might need to check it out 🙂 Best of luck with your pants making!

  6. Hi Mel, glad the book is coming in useful. The DVD sounds impressive. It is amazing how much sizing differs in the shops isn’t it. I’ve got the same problem – two pair of work pants bit the dust this week (broken zip and rip) and I’m having a bit of a workwear panic. Nothing to wear. We aren’t really having yet more heatwave are we? Oh no!

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