Putting Theory to Rest

Every time I ask a sales associate at a department store to show me the brands they think run small, they say, “Oh! Theory runs incredibly small!”

Every time I complain to someone I don’t own any decent dress pants because I can never find any small enough, they say, “Have you tried Theory? That brand runs REALLY small!”

I would like to set the record straight. Yes, Theory size 00 works for a lot of petites, but not ones as tiny as me.

I tried on some Theory size 00 pants because I’m always hoping that some day, somewhere in a land far far away, I’ll find a cut that fits. Here are my results after trying on several pairs of differing cuts. This is the Max C pant by Theory in size 00.

The pant falls really low on my hips, and the crotch is down near my knees (ok, so that’s an exaggeration, but it’s way too low). The pants also need some major hemming.
The waist is too big and would need alteration. The leg and thigh is also too big, and would need to be taken in.

When the pants are pulled up so the crotch is in the right place, the rise is WAY too high for my body type (I believe Steve Urkel sports this high of a rise).

So, to sum this up:

Length = too long – the pants would need hemming = $$
Waist = too big – the waist would need to be taken in = $$
Thigh and leg = too wide – both would need to be slimmed = $$
Rise = too high – invasive and expensive alteration = lots of $$$

Theory size 00 is overall too large for me and in order to make a pair of these pants properly fit my frame would cost too much money for the price and quality of the pant. Everything wrong with the pant can technically be altered, but shortening the rise is way too costly. I don’t suggest anyone pay that much money to alter a pair of unlined wool/lycra blend pants. A pair of incredibly special cashmere pants…maybe…

On the flip-side, if you’re a little taller, curvier, or have a longer torso than me, then these pants might be a good bet for you.

So, sales associates of the world, please don’t tell me to try Theory size 00 pants anymore. It’s just a big tease.

Join the Conversation


  1. says: Cynthia

    The rise issue is something that many “average heighted” people don’t seem to understand. A lot of people think I’m crazy for wanting more petite sizes, and tell me that I can always hem. Ummm, hemming might be affordable but reconstruction is NOT. I’ve said this time and time again, and people DON’T GET IT. Maybe your pictures can help.


  2. says: Alterations Needed

    Thanks Cynthia. Pants are really hard, because in my experience thus far, they never tend to run small. Even petite sizes are too big for me. For example Banana Republic petite pants in the Martin and Jackson fit have a HUGE rise on me and just don’t work (the Ryan has worked in the past, but they seem to be phasing that fit out of petites). Tops, sweaters, blouses, jackets, all these things I can find brands that run a tad small, but I’m still searching for the right size pants! Hmph!

  3. says: apple

    hi! i have tried theory myself and yes they dont run small! i am way smaller than you. i wear a size 4 in shoes and 00 in most petite clothing or if there’s an xxs. i have tried vince and so far very minor alterations are needed in my case. you might want to try them. i also have tried a few bcbg tops, they have xxs too. and a/x as well carry petite 0’s that run small.

  4. says: Cynthia

    AN: Yeah, the Ryan fit is the best for me as well. I have ONE pair of Ryan fit pants in 00P and it’s the only more recent pair of BR pants I can wear with flats or 1″ heels based on the inseam. I only saw one Ryan fit in the regular length, so I’m wondering if they’re phasing it out for all pants.

  5. says: Anonymous

    I also have an incredibly hard time finding nice pants that fit. Most size 0 pants are too big. So far, the only two places I’ve found pants that fit are at Ann Taylor Loft, size 00, and the Victoria’s Secret catalog, size 0 in the Christie fit only. They call their Christie fit their “best fitting pant,” which is silly, because it suggests that they know their other pants are bad-fitting? All the other fits in the VS catalog (size 0) are too big.

  6. says: Breukellen

    Thanks for the review. I was thinking of buying a pair of 00 Theory pants on Rue La La (discount internet boutique), but your review has convinced me otherwise.

    To add to the chorus of complaints and suggestions, sometimes Gap 0 petite fits alright, and some are too large. H&M pants in a 2 tend to be nice and small, but they always need hemming.

    I've been having an easier time lately with jeans, especially at places like Charlotte Russe and Mandee. They carry Hydraulic and Refuge jeans which both come in a tiny 0 Short.

    I, too am working on a nice, chic, professional wardrobe. Skirts and dresses are easier to find in a size that fits, but they are weather reliant. Good luck, everyone!

  7. says: Anonymous

    Ahh- just found this blog and I'm now a follower. Great posts. I've found my nitch. I'm sure you have a beautiful selection of clothes.

  8. says: Anonymous

    Ahh- just found this blog and I'm now a follower. Great posts. I've found my nitch. I'm sure you have a beautiful selection of clothes.

  9. says: Alexandra

    Hi! Thank you for this post – I’m 12 years late, but very helpful nonetheless!! I am a true XXS/solid size 000/23 and can still fit in children’s size clothing (size 12 shorts). 00/XS is usually always still way too big.

    For reference, here are my measurements:
    5’4, 94lbs
    30A bust
    21″ waist
    32″ hip

    In case anyone else stumbles across this — in recent years here are the brand pants that have fit me well:

    – H&M pants/jeans (some of their work pants, not all)
    – PacSun shorts (I’m 34 years old and yes their size 23 shorts are the only brand that fits me)
    – Paige jeans
    – Jo Jeans
    – 7 For All Mankind

    Brands that others thought would fit & were too big:
    – Abercrombie
    – Express (their bottoms are HUGE on me, but their XXS dresses fit)
    – Theory
    – Lucky
    – Free People
    – many many more

    Hope this helps someone!

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