Silly Things About Women’s Clothing or Why Can’t the Clothing Industry Understand Female Bodies?

1. Tiny pockets that can’t fit anything and mean we have to carry purses or bring nothing with us anywhere. Also see fake pockets.

2. Teeny tiny sleeves that show off your armpits so that you have to decide whether to shave or get weird looks about your body, and also won’t fit over anything vaguely resembling muscle.

3. Super see through fabric. I’m sorry, I bought this shirt because I wanted to use it to wear, not to layer with 27 other shirts so that maybe possibly I can go to my job without exposing my nips.

4. Completely unhelpful pant sizes that have no relation whatsoever to how the pants will actually fit (unlike men’s sizes which are actual measurements). I’m still somewhat convinced that this is a ploy to trick women into thinking that no pants fit them appropriately and so they should buy more pants because they’re ugly and need better pants.

5. Heels. Always and forever heels. Because they hurt. (If you like wearing heels more power to you, but those things are not nice to one’s body).

6. Makeup. Whether you wear it or you don’t, you’re probably doing it wrong (because you’re “fake” or “sloppy” or “high maintenance” or “wasting money” or “ugly” or something).

7. Bra sizing. It is impossible to find a bra that fits. WHY CAN’T THESE THINGS MAKE SENSE?

8. Pants that ride down and undies that ride up.

9. Loose shirts that don’t understand that cleavage is a thing and that sometimes people like to move around or bend over or do other things that will most certainly expose their chesticles if they’re wearing some sort of draped towel over their body.

10. Jackets with no space in the shoulders whatsoever so you have to buy up a few sizes just so you can move your arms. Yes, because ladies are always dainty and shouldn’t have an actual skeletal structure.

11. Strapless bras. I’d rather have everyone see everything, and let everything sag than have to wear those hellish creatures (but of course that’s not appropriate).

12. The inability of the manufacturers of skirts to understand that different sizes shouldn’t just mean different waist sizes but also different lengths. I have long legs. Sometimes I want a skirt that actually goes down to my knees so I can wear it to work. Sometimes my shorter friends would like to wear a skirt that doesn’t go down to mid-calf. Ridiculous huh?

13. The ongoing conviction of the makers of women’s clothes that all women are shaped the same way and that they shouldn’t design clothes that actually look good on or fit different bodies.

14. Skin tight clothing that means you can’t move your limbs more than a couple inches each direction.

15. The less fabric there is in a piece of clothing, the more expensive it seems to be.

16. Fabric that wears out after one usage. This seems to happen sooner the more expensive the item was.


Olivia is a giant pile of nerd who tends to freak out about linguistic prescriptivism, gender roles, and discrimination against the mentally ill. By day she writes things for the Autism Society of Minnesota, and by night she writes things everywhere else. Check out her ongoing screeds against jerkbrains at www.taikonenfea.wordpress.com

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  1. You are very right; especially about pockets. This is one reason I seriously love biking jerseys – plenty of pockets!
    As far as bras go, I hated them for years because there’s no real info and stores size you wrong to “fit” into what they carry. THEN I found this really excellent, supportive! sub -> http://www.reddit.com/r/abrathatfits It has completely changed my bra life. I was wearing something that was so loose around the chest that my chesticles were escaping out the bottom, minimizing and smashing the little chest I have, and making it look like i didn’t fill an A cup. Once I got the band right, and got the !right shaped cups (balconette are great for shallow-shaped gals), I suddenly found I could wear it without pulling up the straps all the time, since the band didn’t ride up, leaving too much slack in the straps. Also, the right fit made my “stealth” breasts more apparent since I wasn’t mashing them any more and I found I needed a larger, wider cup than before to properly contain them. My clothes fit much better as a consequence. Now I’m comfy but I write too much online when I find someone I think could use help. Some may find it hard to get their size in the US, but ebay hooks me up with reasonably priced items from the UK, and Amazon also carries some of them. Now, lets get those pockets and sheer fabrics fixed up.

  2. I’d love to add one of my wife’s major women’s clothing irritations. We both love the out of doors, my wife rides horses and we both camp and hike. You’d think REI and other outdoor clothing manufactures would realize that when it’s cold, raining and you have shit to do outside woman want the same functioning and comfortable fit as men’s clothing!! Hard to use a pitchfork or pitch a tent in the rain when your jacket is too short and rides up your back exposing flesh that can’t be covered because the technical T-shirt isn’t long enough to tuck in and the waterproof jacket is constructed in a manner that reduces the possibility of shoulder movement or activities that require you to put your hands above your head for the sake of a stylish line.

    1. Yes. This. I end up buying men’s S or boy’s XL tops/jackets, etc. due to the riding up the back issue. I am a cyclist and I need the damn thing to actually, you know, cover my backside and keep me dry! Which brings me to women’s cycling jerseys. Yes pockets, but often fewer than men’s jerseys! Why?! It’s almost like the manufacturers don’t think womenfolk need to carry extra tubes and tools the way the men do. My cute new summer jersey: 2 small pockets. My ratty old unisex shop jersey: 3 large pockets. I could carry a picnic lunch in those suckers. And spare tubes for everyone!

  3. My height is 5’2″, and I have recently discovered that, for outdoor/sports clothing, I fit much better into youth sizes. Plus the quality is better (lasts much longer and is more functional) and is about half the price.

    This doesn’t help for work clothes, unfortunately.

    1. Are you also thin? I’m also 5’2″ but the idea of fitting into youth sizes makes me laugh. No way. I’m way too curvy for junior plus sizes usually, too ..,. it all just fits awkward!

      It’s hard for me to find jeans that fit. I need a nice mid-rise but either it’s too low or too high and then of course the crotch area…ugh.

  4. So much THIS! I find it ridiculous at 5’4″/5’5″ that I need to buy Tall pants in order to not look like I’m preparing for high tide.

    Also, all the hate for tiny/fake pockets. Grrrrrrrrrr.

    Layering I don’t mind so much, because I’m in the PNW and it’s a necessity no matter how non-see-thru something is, you still need layers to cope with the ever changing weather situation. “It’s Seattle: Don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.”

  5. I wish I could post the photo I took of some dress pants I bought online the other day. They were so tight across the hips I could hardly get them on, yet the hem extended at least three inches beyond the ends of my toes – while I was wearing 4″ heels. That means, if I wanted to wear flats with them, I’d have to take 6 or 7 inches off of the bottom. It’s too bad I don’t have enough confidence in my sewing abilities to use all of that extra material to put a gusset in at the hip.

    I can’t imagine someone with legs 7″ longer than mine is “average”.

  6. My clothing pet peeves are low rise pants as I am short, but have a long torso, so they ride even lower than they are supposed to, and always have a huge gape in the back due to having a small waist compared to my hips. The worst though is the trend to have all bras shaped the same way, the kind with large round cups that are all padded to one degree or another. My boobs are not round orbs, they are more oblong (I heard them called champagne shapes because they are shaped like a champagne glass). Putting on one of these structured bras, I end up with a gap at the top, which shows up as a weird “shelf” look under T shirts, because the padding is suspended over the lack of boob in that area, and the T shirt kind of falls into it. Finding a soft cup involves lots of looking, and usually really ugly utilitarian bras.

    1. You may want to try shopping online, Amazon carries Freya, Panache, and several other UK brands that have really wide size ranges in attractive soft cup styles. It does bring the annoyance of return shipping, but once you find a good fit or two it makes the task pretty easy from there :)

    2. This is really where the “not everyone is shaped the same” thing comes in. I have a short torso so normal rise pants actually come up high enough to hit my lower ribs and that is not comfortable. I also have some serious hips so I can’t find pants that fit my hips and don’t gap at the waist (which since I’ve lost weight has gotten worse).

      1. It’s interesting that most women have larger hips compared to their waist and yet despite this biological fact they still assume that if you are a size 14 or above you obviously have the waistline of a sumo wrestler.

    3. My waist to hip ratio is approaching 1 and I still get that gap in the back in my pants. I have tried every type of pants imaginable. I cannot figure out why it is always there.

  7. As a tall person, in addition to the skirt length issue, I have problems with pants. I can find pants that are long enough in the leg most of the time, if there are tall sizes available, but I cannot for the life of me find pants that are long enough in the waist. Even if I buy high-waisted jeans, 90% of the time they hit me at about the widest part of my hips. Some people have high waists, clothing industry! Take note!

    But also bras. Ugh, bras. I wear something like a 36K and… bluh, bras. The only store around me that carries my size (that I’ve found) only really carries one style of bra (albeit in many different colors and trims, so yay for not all white-beige-black bras), and they are constructed in a way that isn’t really the comfiest fit (too much underwire in my armpit and in my cleavage, and the shoulder straps are invariably too long to the point where I have to tailor them down), and they’re rather higher coverage than I would like. I mean, I have to carry these fuckers around all day, I might as well be able to flaunt my magnificent cleavage, but nooooooo ):

    1. I’m a bit over 6’1″ and have had good luck with Avenue’s tall jeans. I can usually get them on sale for not too much money.

  8. I’m ok with fake pockets, since pockets are really just about appearance (carrying stuff in pockets distorts most clothing, and so ruins the look – i.e. utilitarian clothing is by its nature not fashionable).
    But pants sizes! I want waist, hips, and inseam measurements as the only sizing. I have never been “flattered” by vanity sizing, just irritated at having to try on more pants before I find the ones that fit.

    1. I should have said fashion tends to reject utilitarianism, not that utilitarian clothing can ever be fashionable.
      I have a fantasy of creating a line of bicycling clothing that would be both utilitarian and fashionable. I envision high-heeled shoes with inset bike cleats, and reversible jackets (high-viz on one side, high-fashion on the other, etc.).

      1. Except that for some bizarre reason even utilitarian clothing for women often have pockets far smaller and fewer than the comparative item for men.

  9. 6. Makeup. Whether you wear it or you don’t, you’re probably doing it wrong (because you’re “fake” or “sloppy” or “high maintenance” or “wasting money” or “ugly” or something).
    16. Fabric that wears out after one usage. This seems to happen sooner the more expensive the item was.

    Well, that and generally “fitting”. The first one.. lets just say that there is only one case of makeup I ever saw that made me go WTF, and it was because the women in question seemed to think that making herself look like one of those “uncanny valley” characters from a CG set, which is just real enough to almost look real, but just fake enough that you get the sense that Barby just pulled a Chucky… Yeah, well.. lol

    The second one – there is reason why I sometimes call K-Mart – Came-Apart. I swear I haven’t bought a pair of shorts from there, ever, which didn’t rip in the crotch, because somehow the material rotted through somehow, a pair of socks that didn’t develop holes at the toes in a month, or pocket liner material that seemed to be made precisely so that your keys will wear through them, and leave the whole contents of your pocket on the ground when you don’t expect it.

    As to the glory of, “sizes making sense”, I seriously wonder if these people are using metric tapes, by accident, for some pants, because one pair will just fit my waist, and a different one will be too tight, and another one too loose. Its like they are always off by about half a bloody inch. I am just glad guys don’t, unless they are at a Ren Faire, or family reunion, and their last name it Scottish, have to worry about “length” of, say, a kilt. And, as for pockets on anything other than shorts.. WTF is with the ones they put in T-Shirts. Do they think that your cell phone, or anything else you stick in there “shrink” when you go from a regular button up shirt, to a T-shirt, assuming you are lucky to find one with a pocket at all?

    Frankly, I think the whole clothing industry are just bloody idiots, some times. But, I do agree that they are worse idiots when it comes to women’s clothing.

  10. Ugh… the forced layering thing is AWFUL! I do not have money to spend on THREE shirts. I want ONE shirt that is long enough and not see through. I used to be very hot natured and when that was the case I couldn’t bear to layer. I was already sweating wearing one clothing item.

    Also, I don’t understand why they feel that if you are a lager number size it means you are tall or have large breasts. There are women who have short legs and are barely a B who wear sizes which are double digits.

  11. I’ve never found the tall/large breast assumption to be very prevalent, myself. If anything, I can’t find clothing that is tall and chesty *enough*… I think there probably just isn’t variation in clothing commensurate with the variation of body types in people; if you’re much off the approved model in any direction, you’re screwed. I’d say the mean, but I think we all know the clothing industry doesn’t actually design to the mean.

  12. Shoes with pointy toes! UGH! My big toe isn’t in the middle, why should I try to force it there just to wear dress shoes? Agreed about high heels, especially the current trend of chunky platforms. Why bother to put on a really great looking outfit when you’re just going to strap large blocks of wood to your feet? Ballerina flats aren’t that much better, because they usually won’t stay on and have no arch support. And why do shoe manufacturers assume that all women’s feet are width B? Or that if you have wide feet you necessarily have long feet as well? I know some women enjoy shoe shopping, but I’m usually so limited by how few shoes stores have in my size that it’s usually just an exercise in aggravation. Once I find a pair I like, they also usually fall apart in a few months. I look at men’s dress shoes, so practical, comfortable and durable, and really wish they came in my size.

    Also skinny shoulder straps on large size bras. I’m needing the bra to support my boobs, how do they expect something not much wider than string to be able to do that without cutting trenches into my shoulders?

    Pockets – When I have time I make my own pants, just so I can make sure they have pockets. Because pockets.

  13. Agh, I am so with you on the sleeves thing. I am really self conscious about my arms because they are kind of “beefy,” while the rest of my upper body is really small so I either have to have something that fits most of my body and is super tight in the arms, or fits my arms but I am swimming in it everywhere else. I wish I could find a good tailor, because then I could just buy things large and have them tailored to fit, but no luck so far. The only thing I haven’t experienced is the fabric thing. My more expensive clothing is pretty much always made of better, more durable fabrics, but it’s almost never washer/dryer safe so laundering them is a huge pain. I always end up with my bathtub filled with “lay flat to dry” stuff because who has some magical place where they can lay out a bunch of wet clothes flat?

  14. Since I happen to have a magnificent booty, this makes me a regular sized shopper on top and a plus size shopper on the bottom. Makes finding dresses, one pieces, two piece bikini sets, pants, etc. hella difficult.

    But anyways, I’m tired of cheap, throw-away fashion-of-the-day clothes. Time to make my own.

  15. I wear men’s button-down shirts – that solves the see-through shirt problem. Nobody ever expects men to want to wear more than one shirt at a time.

    Unfortunately I can’t wear men’s pants, or else I totally would.

    I’m extremely frustrated with the recent style in women’s jackets and suits, where the jacket is so short it doesn’t cover the butt at all. I luckily have a black jacket from several years back that is 3/4 length, and two from more recent years that at least hit me mid-butt. The past 2-3 years I have been utterly unable to buy any jackets that are a respectable length except for …

    (you guessed it) Men’s jackets. I make full use of the inside breast pocket, which women’s jacket designers for some reason think I wouldn’t want in a women’s jacket.

    I’m fortunate both that my body shape allows me to look at least reasonably good in men’s clothes (except the pants) and my gender presentation makes this appropriate as well. Not everyone is as lucky as I am. Except, y’know, men.

  16. One of my issues is ANY women’s shirts that aren’t made of jersey (t-shirt material) or other stretchy fabric because I have broad shoulders that match my wide hips. Apparently women aren’t supposed to have such broad shoulders because I rarely find non-stretchy shirts that fit. My jackets and coats are almost always too big everywhere else so my shoulders fit (or I buy men’s). I completely gave up on long sleeves years ago because between my shoulders and long arms they just don’t fit.

    1. Me, too. I have shoulders like a defensive tackle, and getting shirts to fit my shoulders and not like a tent everywhere else is the real challenge. But even then, the stupid things STILL gap over my chest. Grrrr.

  17. I took a pattern drafting class in college, and the pattern making textbook I used explained how (most) women’s clothing patterns are made. They have an ideal body – usually thin and tall with a small bust – and size things up from there. So it’s hard to find anything that fits when you aren’t 6′ and 120 pounds. Then there is the vanity sizing that helps along the ‘every brand has different sizing in inches for number sizes’ problem. It’s crazy bullshit. This is partly why I learned to make my own clothes :/

  18. 1. My bra size is 34DD. I do not need larger boobs. Why can’t I find unpadded bras?
    2. I need a button-down that actually BUTTONS DOWN and doesn’t leave a giant gap between the buttons.
    3. I also have a fairly impressive set of hips. Long-enough belts are a frustrating rarity, it seems.

  19. Yes to all of these things. This is why I hate shopping. It devolves quickly into an exercise in frustration and self-loathing when nothing fits or the fabric is nearly see-through and yet costs a weeks salary. I didn’t even realize the thing about the pants and yet I have bought 6 (kept 1) in the last 3 months because they don’t fit and look like crap on me. I really don’t see why manufacturers can’t give us pants sizes similar to men’s. Yes, there is one more dimension to consider, but come on, it can’t possibly be that hard.

  20. I had a friend who was a model. She told me “Ringlets look stupid on me, but they’re the style right now, which trumps what actually looks good on you.”

    And that’s the problem with the fashion industry right there: A Procrustean bed of the worst sort. (Well, not the worst sort, since there’s no rack or dismemberment going on.) ‘Twould be nice if they’d just say “This is for a 26-inch waist.” too.

    #16, I assume only wearing it once is the point. Planned obsolescence and all.

  21. Ummm… can I as a male complain too? Where I shop: men’s training bottoms are always baggy and rough, while for women they are comfy and slim. But yeah of course – lack of pockets is a basic problem – horrible, and the other things on the list sound obnoxious for any woman buying clothes..

    For an extra vomit, just last week I saw a street ad for women’s underwear that said “A woman’s self-esteem starts under her clothes!” Even the retailers seem to know the game =(

    1. If we’re allowed to complain, can I mention that I really need a purse for all my mobile devices? Phone and tablet? Throw in my keys, my wallet, that one flash drive I have where the keychain part is broken, and my iPod for my ‘walk if you can’ rule, and I think I need a purse. Or a ‘man-bag’. (Also, can we stop using terms like ‘man-bag’, ‘manscaping’, ‘brony’? That’s a serious case of castration anxiety there.) As it is, I need more pouches than Rob Liefeld. Also, there’s this annoying tendency of men’s clothing to hide your body. That’s not a problem, until it’s 100 degrees out and you’re trying to save money on gas so you get covered in sweat.

      On a more universal note, thrift stores have a habit of labeling clothes with the wrong size on the little tags they pin on it, so you have to check the actual size. Just a bit annoying.

  22. Yup. Just last week I bought from the very same clothing store and brand a size small skirt that fit my waist and a size large dress that’s a bit too small and possibly vulgar on my chest and which I’ll have to hem up about 3 inches.

    I quit wearing bras because I just couldn’t stand that BS anymore.

  23. I DESPERATELY wish that women’s pants sizes (dresses, clothing WHATEVER) were sized like men’s. You know… ACTUAL MEASUREMENTS. I would BE SO RELIEVED to buy pants that showed MY hips/waist ACTUAL SIZE IN INCHES( or cm or whatever works). I want “vanity sizes” to be abolished. Stop sugar coating the size so that women “feel better” or whatever the reason for those vanity sizes. I want to find my 40″+ hip size and “petite” or short legged size, PLEASE.
    WHAT is so hard about that???

  24. And can anyone tell me the purpose of Chest pockets on women’s shirts? Like I need to put something in a pocket that is directly on my breast……and I can’t find any Long Sleeve, 100% cotton, button down shirts for women in something other than black, white or blue.

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