While I’m standing at the lunch counter at the retirement center, a woman whom I’ve known for several years greeted me with surprise. Had I grown and inch or two she wondered. By her recollection, she’d always been taller than I. She was right, of course. But age had done a little whittling on her bones while I had maintained my height thanks to hip replacement surgeries, exchanging brittle bones with steel that is impervious to time’s passage. On the morning of her greeting, this former 5’5 woman now stood at my eye level.
Heights vary by country as well as age. In the United States, the average woman is 5’4’ while it’s 5’6” in Germany and a leggy 5’7” in the Netherlands. (“High Fashion,” by Claire Suddath, Bloomberg Businessweek, June 6-12, 2016, pg. 61.) Pity the American gal who stands at 5’8” or above. She represents 5% of the population and is hugely ignored by retail fashion. (Ibid, pg 60.) If she wants a pair of jeans to reach her ankles, most likely she shops in the men’s store. Otherwise, for a snug fit, she buys women’s jeans and disguises the short cut with high top boots. She makes similar adjustments when she buys a skirt. My knee-length garments she would wear as minis. In sum, the tall gal struggles.
Like her counterparts of plus size, retail ignores a tall woman and for the same reasons: pattern adjustments and the required extra material. (Blog 6/13/16) Fortunately, a company in the U.K. has come to the rescue. Long Tall Sally, recently emerged from bankruptcy and has opened brick and mortar shops for tall women in England and Canada, with a few to be opened soon in the United States. At the moment, however, the business focuses is the internet where it sells its designs all over the world. The new CEO admits the fashions aren’t groundbreaking, but its leggings, jeans and tiered maxi skirts are sufficiently long to cover arms and legs.
When it comes to retail fashion, being average is good. For those who aren’t average, there is J. C. Penny for the plus gal and Long Tall Long Sally for those statuesque women most of us envy. Come to think of it, I wish I’d have thought to ask my surgeon to implant longer leg rods when he did my hip replacements. As I grow older, I could do with a new perspective.