Adventures in Alterations: How To Choose Pants That Can Be Altered for Petites

In searching for dress pants (which is probably one of the most difficult items for women of any size to purchase), I came across a lot of bad fits, and a few good ones. There was even one where I thought it was a good fit, but when I took them to my tailor, she had me return them to the store. It’s a bit of a learning curve, and I’m by no means an expert, so if you have any advice to add, please do so!

I’ll start with the bad…

Way too big:


These J.Crew Petite pants in size 0 are huge in the waist and hip. In order to tailor these down, too much fabric would have to be removed, which leaves a lot of room for mistakes in tailoring, or unwanted movement of pocket placements. Also, the rise is a bit high, which would make sitting uncomfortable, as the pant would ride up your stomach. This pant is just not worth altering. Put this one back on the rack and walk away!

Bad front fit:

Alterations Needed: United Colors of Benetton Pants
These United Color of Benetton pants in size 38 are a no brainer…after I put these on, I thought I might have mistakenly grabbed a pair of men’s trousers. The extra pouch of fabric in the front is unattractive, and no amount of tugging or pulling fabric would make it go away. Run away from these as soon as possible.

Alterations Needed: Banana Republic Petite Pants
These Banana Republic Petite Martin Fit pants in size Petite 00 tricked me. The waist wasn’t that big, and I thought with an easy waist alteration and leg/thigh slimming, these would work. However, my tailor took one look at these and said, “no way, the fit in the front is all wrong”. If you take a look at the front/crotch and inner thigh area, there is a bagginess and wrinkling that according to my tailor, would look funny, even after alterations.

Now for the good…

Not too big, and good front fit:

Alterations Needed: Ann Taylor Petite SuitingAnn Taylor Modern Fit in size Petite 00

 

Alterations Needed: Theory Petite SuitingTheory Max C in size 00

These two pants are not so big in the waist as to complicate taking in the waist (especially the Ann Taylor! Those are a really close fit in the waist), and the front and inner thigh is nice and smooth without any bagginess. The rise is also decent.

The waist can be taken in (this includes those annoying gaps at the back of the waistband), the leg and thigh width can be slimmed, and the hem shortened. Those areas should be secondary concerns when shopping for pants. If you can find pants that don’t need extra alterations…awesome! Otherwise, invest in a nice pair, pay to get them altered, and take good care of them so they last a very long time.

To see the Ann Taylor and Theory pants after alterations, see the Related Posts listing at the end of this post.

Anyone else have any pants fit shopping advice?

Related Posts:
Putting Theory to Rest…Part II
Dress Pants for Tiny Petites: Ann Taylor
Brand that Runs Small: United Colors of Benetton

5 Comments

  • Reply September 14, 2009

    d

    I know they're not of the same "quality" and price range, but I've found pants from Forever 21 to be very reliable. If you can find the XS pants in a sturdy fabric that won't fall apart after a few washes, likely all that needs to be done is a pinch in the waist and a shortening of the hem.

    Not to mention that the prices are almost always under $30 a pair, which is great!

    FYI I'm 4'10" and 100lb.

  • Reply September 16, 2009

    Zoe

    If you can pinch them to fit in the dressing room, they can probably be altered. If no amount of pinch and tugging gets them right, then your better off looking elsewhere.

  • Reply September 28, 2009

    Anonymous

    Dear Alterations Needed,

    Thank you for this blog and all your efforts.

    Finding well fitting (or alterable) trousers is my greatest challenge. Talula Babaton brand (sold in Aritzia boutiques in Canada; I heard they are opening a store in LA) is great for tiny ladies. I also like their slim fitting shirts and wool/cashmere coats and pea coats. Fine workmanship and use natural fibers are important to me. I take size 00 and XXS in this brand. I still have to shorten sleeves and hem pants.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    d

    I know they're not of the same "quality" and price range, but I've found pants from Forever 21 to be very reliable. If you can find the XS pants in a sturdy fabric that won't fall apart after a few washes, likely all that needs to be done is a pinch in the waist and a shortening of the hem.

    Not to mention that the prices are almost always under $30 a pair, which is great!

    FYI I'm 4'10" and 100lb.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Zoe

    If you can pinch them to fit in the dressing room, they can probably be altered. If no amount of pinch and tugging gets them right, then your better off looking elsewhere.

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