Previously average


As I stay far from shops I have become a great fan of online shopping. This of course means buying without trying on, so I’ve had to think harder about what styles suit and what colours would work with other clothes in my wardrobe.

Until fairly recently I haven’t had a problem with clothes shopping, as I seemed to be around average height. So skirts were the length I wanted and sleeves were made for the length of my arms. From a few shops I’d passed I knew some taller people experienced problems, but was content in my averageness.


No clothes – just as well as with those shoulders I’m sure she would never have been regarded as average.

But now things have changed dramatically. Despite those around me appearing to be of similar heights to me, the odd tall, lank beanpole being the stand-out exception, I now find I and those around me are no longer average. Models posing in online shops have become the new average it seems. Some sites helpfully give the height of the model in the image. Five foot ten seems the norm. This is a full six and a bit inches taller than me, taller than what used to be the five foot four average.


Pretty sure she wouldn’t have been considered average either.

So I know if the dress or skirt is described as knee length and that’s where it comes to on the model, that on me the same item would be mid calf. Some online stores give the length. I almost wrote ‘helpfully give the length’ but sizing matters are never quite so simple. The length given is for the model’s UK size eight or ten, with a note that the length for other sizes will vary accordingly. Hmmm! Why do they think larger sizes are necessarily taller? I’m left in the dark to work out how much my larger size might add to the length as no indication is given. So mid calf could well become ankle length. Of course some stores merely give an image and brief description, leaving the would-be purchaser totally in the dark about whether the item might fit or drown, be practically tripped up by the skirt length or with hands that disappear to the elbow of lengthy sleeves.


Average for models perhaps.

A few manufacturers have opted to introduce ‘petite’ ranges. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact my mature, once average, curvaceous figure is now regarded as petite – not a description I would ever have applied to myself. So, having at length sussed this out, I thought I could relax when ordering online, certain of garments that fitted. But celebrations were premature. While jackets are a more appropriate length instead of making me look like a 1950s Teddy Boy, and my hands are free to move as the sleeves are a shorter length, I still have a problem with skirts.


Whatever the length, not my style. These would make me look like a heavily decorated Christmas tree lit up for the festivities.


Now this is more my style – minus the hat. Not a great hat person, but do tend to like wafting around in long skirts, especially in winter as they keep my legs warm. Looking closer, these just might be wide-legged trousers, reminiscent of the 1970s. Fun.

You see, manufacturers appear to believe that those now classed as petite should wear their skirts mid calf – a length I hate and which does little for the rest of me. The measurements of the recently average woman have been shredded with some new mid calf standard imposed on us. It’s enough to make me wear nothing but trousers.


Historic Chinese warlords  yet the garb looks strangely relevant to today’s dress – denim skirts (yes, I know they’re men but wait for what’s coming below) leggings and leather jackets. Cool!

Trousers – now there’s another problem. While some marvellous stores do sell trousers and leggings in three different lengths — 29, 31 and 33 inch, others merely sell trousers or leggings, leaving us to buy and find out the hard way that their trousers are made for giraffes and not newly petite women.


The person on the left is a man, and his dress is not so different to the Mandarins above. My days of wearing a mini kilt are over, sadly. Something more knee length suits better.


Talking of kilts and skirt lengths, there is a regulation length for a kilt. When kneeling on the ground the material should just touch it, although nowadays it’s more a case of anything goes.

Naturally I have suggested to some online suppliers that more information on lengths would see more satisfied customers and fewer returns, but so far none have deigned to respond, leaving me to think they are only interested in the new five foot ten average and not us former averages now relegated to petites.


I can see advantages to being a mermaid, no clothes to worry about, but then no excitement about buying something new to wear.

Is it just me, or does any other woman have problem with the length of clothes?


About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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9 Responses to Previously average

  1. mybrightlife says:

    Such a fun read and images! Yes, it does seem to be getting harder as I get older….What The Heck!! Good luck. I guess there is no such thing as average…

    • No such thing as average. Like the thought. We’re all unique so let’s celebrate it. Perhaps as you get older you feel more inclined to do your own thing and care less what others think, develop your own style, your own look, whatever it is. Yeah!

  2. Sheila says:

    I love the statues and some of those dresses would be great Halloween costumes! It’s true that no one is average and that definitely makes things more interesting. I never go shopping either so I just have to try to keep reusing my old clothes – that also makes things pretty interesting. 🙂

  3. Lorna says:

    I have to admit that I rarely shop for clothes online – can’t cope with the hassle of having to try on and return. I go into a shop to buy something and usually walk out with something – having identified the types of shops I have a reasonable chance of success with. Can’t abide shopping by the way.

    • Trouble is, I usually decide I want/need a new summer skirt for the holidays. I decide I’d like a red one, full skirt, knee length. I traipse around and find everyone is selling brown pencil skirts, midi length. Or I want cream straight leg trousers. What’s being sold is lime green beanpoles. At least shopping online I can find out what’s being sold without all the hassle of dragging myself around shops and car parks becoming ever more grumpy. I’ve solved the Christmas present problem in the same way, taking advantage of sales to buy items normally dearer than what I would have spent. Works for me. So far I’ve been lucky and haven’t returned anything, though I suppose that may raise its head some day. Meanwhile, I’m happy to sit back and let the shops come to me.

  4. I’ve never been able to shop online, because I have an actual woman’s body, but when it comes to long dresses and coats, I’m the only person I know who doesn’t have to get clothes altered. I don’t think it suits them to get it right, particularly as we just accept how bad it is!

    • Yes, online stores long ago gave up real women body shapes in favour of telegraph poles topped by clothes hangers. Anything looks good on them, whereas on us poor curvy, height-challenged women most of the styles look rubbish, but we are brainwashed into believing that we look great.It’s interesting to watch old films with some big name stars who, far from being drawn threads, are actually arm-cuddling armfuls with busts and figures that undulate. When looking at an online store recently I had to check I had actually clicked to see clothes for women as the models looked more like gangly teenage youths. But ever-hopeful, I persevere.

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