Ex-squeeze Me?

So I’m curious: How do you feel about lumpage and bumpage? As in, are you willing to tolerate tights or panties or jeans that squeeze your midsection into … well, sections? When you pull on a pair of tights, do you suffer from Segmented Worm Syndrome, and tolerate it? Do you just accept that some bras are going to dig into your backflesh and wear thicker shirts to mask it?

Because let me tell you, I have ZERO TOLERANCE for such things. Oh, all right, I get segmented by my tights sometimes. But I hate it passionately and tug on them constantly and would rather have a pair that comes up to my bra-line than one that sits at my waist and squeezes. I buy my thongs in XXL because I cannot abide divided hipflesh. And I’ll own up to occasionally purchasing bras that don’t fit because it drives me bonkers to have a lumpy back. (Don’t turn me in to the Fashion Police, please.)

My opinion is that if something is pushing your body around, shoving it outside the garment, chopping it up into segments, or otherwise fighting against its natural shape, it just doesn’t fit you. And I am willing to buy up several sizes to get something that sits peacefully against my parts. It’s more comfortable, it’s more flattering, and I’ll use it more.

But I am a medium-sized girl with relatively few sizing hang-ups.* It occurs to me that someone on the road to weight loss might be mortified at the thought of buying tights two sizes up, that women on the cusp of plus-sized might struggle to find thongs that WON’T bind, and that some things just segment and nothing to be done. Also that, depending on how you’re built, trying to find certain garments that don’t squeeze may feel like trying to find a talking unicorn with nine legs.

How do you feel about The Big Squeeze? Are you willing to work around it? If a garment is sized FAR larger than your baseline but fits better, will you buy it? Will you buy it but resent it? Where on your bod do clothes typically squeeze you, and how do you deal with it? What non-squeezy garments are hardest to track down?

*Emphasis on the relatively.
Illustration courtesy Nin(j)a.

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73 Responses to “Ex-squeeze Me?”

  1. Lisa

    I refuse to be a slave to that number on the tag. Buying a garment in a particular size that looks terrible on you makes no sense at all. No one sees what size it is so why does it matter? I would rather look good, and have my clothes fit well, and not be constantly pulling things down and readjusting. It drives me nuts when friends wil only buy a size 6 or 4? WTF? I'm a solid 12 most of the time but I have some things in my closet that are a 10 some are 14, but what they have in common is that they all fit me and look good.

    My biggest problem is my bust, and I usually end up buying bigger tops to accomadate this, but then the sleeves are too long. Thats find with jackets or short sleeve shirts. I can have jackets tailored. Sweaters are a problem though.

  2. fröken lila

    my biggest problems with panties is that mostly if i buy a size up (so that they won't squeeze) they'll not keep in place and get all wrinkled. and even though i don't like the squeeze, i like wrinkled underwear even less. i hate thongs and the hotpant-style will usually creep into my behind which i hate, so my only option apart from buying panties that squeeze a little would be very highwaisted ones. i have a few of those but not nearly enough. and since those are usually not produced in cotton, i don't stand a chance in summer (i tend to sweat a lot in non-cotton underwear in summer).

    other than underwear – i don't wear any pants or jeans anymore that squeeze. it makes me really uncomfortable to know that my belly looks thicker than it is because the pants are a tiny bit too tight. which is one of the reasons why i mostly wear skirts and dresses.

  3. Sabrina

    I am the type of person to clothes, undergarments, etc. that are big on my so they don't squeeze. And I don't resent it. If it looks good on me and I am comfortable then its good for me.

  4. Eternal*Voyageur @ Venusian*Glow

    I do hate low-rise jeans for this very reason. I always buy my thongs, as well as hosiery on size to big, I find it much more comfortable and looks better too.

    About the bras and lumpy flesh: are you sure it isn't migrated breast tissue ? Here is a way to find out: bend forward at the waist, and with your palms gather your breasts from the underarm and back area, and into the cup. Now stand up. If your breasts are suddenly bulging out of the bra, that means you're wearing the wrong size. You need bigger cups (to contain the whole breasts) and a snugger band (that supports the breast, and keeps it from escaping the cups).

    I've explained it here in detail if anyone's interested: http://eternalvoyageur.xanga.com/711558915/get-rid-of-armpit-fat-in-5-seconds-a-day/

  5. Jingle Bella

    Hmmm … I have moderate tolerance for segmentation. Yeah, tights squeeze me a bit, but not too much, so I'll wear them if the line will be hidden anyway by the top of my jeans / waistband of my skirt / etc.

    I own several tight-fitting stretchy slips with built in bras (there must be a word for these, but I don't know it) which give a really nice smooth line along the back (and keep my torso warm – brilliant). So I only really get squished around my waist and hips, and I can usually play around with things to get rid of that (pull tights up higher / fold them down to hip-height / etc).

    If I'm honest, I'm not happy with buying clothing that's larger than 'my size', even though I know that sizing's arbitrary, it doesn't mean anything, etc. Having said that, I'd be more likely to buy something that was 6 sizes larger than my usual size than 1 size up. I don't mind thinking some clothes are really weirdly labelled, I do mind thinking I might be gradually changing shape when I didn't want to … (which is really silly, I know, because cut can make such a difference that 1 size probably doesn't mean anything).

    Guess it's a good thing that my trousers / skirts tend to be in heavy fabrics so their waistlines mask anything else that's going on!

    Oh and also – control top shorts are my friends 🙂 I only have one pair, which I bought to wear under skirts when I'm dancing (so I can dance with abandon and know that if I fall over/ twirl really fast everyone will see black shorts, not my knickers) and they are brilliant for occasionally wearing under dresses just to smooth things out a bit.

  6. La Historiadora de Moda

    This is why I don't buy "low-rise" tights – segmented worm syndrome. I hate it, and it sucks. I buy whatever size fits me best and I don't worry about the number on the garment too much. There's too much variation in sizing and cut to get worked up about that.

    I also don't have too many body hang-ups.

  7. Shrinky Inky

    i buy what fits and "try" not to get hung up on the numbers. i have everything from mediums to 3x in my closet, depending on the manufacturer and fit. i hate lumps and discomfort!

  8. Great Canadian Beagle

    I always buy tights and underwear that are many sizes larger than my clothing. I hate to have my hip flesh all distorted by squeezing elastic. I'm cool with my smooth curves, but when I can see a squish line under my skirt, it makes me nuts!

    And, as you say, this does sometimes result in tights to the bra line, but the way I see it, extra warmth!

  9. Sal

    Jingle Bella: I can totally relate, and think a lot of women feel the same way. Up two sizes makes you feel like you don't know how big you really are, that you changed shape without even realizing it. Up six sizes means whoever was labeling that garment was also busily hitting the crack pipe.

  10. Alfalfa

    In the summer I like to find things that are less constricting. In hot weather there is nothing worse than trying to fit into tight clothes.

    The worst is squeezing into breeches for riding – I am always a victim of VPL. 😉

  11. Sarah R

    I think it depends on the garment. In the south, I don't wear tights, so that's not an issue I can relate to.
    But I recently bought a chenille sweater in a size 3x. I'm a 1x normally. I like huge sweaters, and I don't care that it hangs on me. I'm soooo comfy! That being said, I don't wear it outside, because I look like a marshmallow peep. (the sweater is lavender, which is not a color I normally wear, but dang it, I'm so comfy!)

    As a plus size gal myself, sizes matter little to me. I cut most of my tags out anyway because they itch my neck. I have 1x, 2x, 3x, 16-22 in my closet. I've bought a size 24 just to get something I really loved, and then pulled in the seams (my mommy is a sewer, aren't I lucky?) to make it fit better.

  12. CompassRose

    I can usually tell by looking at something approximately whether it's my size, so I eyeball things first, and then check the size label (more so that I can pick up another item on either side to take into the fitting room, for refinement and comparison). That, plus thrifting, has given me a closet with size labels ranging from 4 to 14 and XS to XL.

    I'm just naturally segmented; my belly flesh has never been smooth, unfortunately, except for a very brief period whilst I was "cutting" during my short bodybuilding adventure. I don't necessarily like things to emphasise that, though! For a while I had some hipster-style tights which were really nice helpers in the fight, but they've disappeared from shelves again.

    However, speaking of TIGHTS, I can't really go up sizes in those, because tights sizes aren't based on girth, they're usually based on height! Sure, I can go for the size marked on the package "150-190 lbs" — but it will also be marked "5'7" – 5'11" " I'd MUCH rather be segmented than pulling yards of extra Lycra up my legs all day and trying to conceal them somewhere round my waistline. So I go for the smaller size, and try to hitch them over my hipbones a bit instead of pulling them right up to the waistline.

  13. Oranges And Apples

    I'm with you all the way. I will go for the thing that fits all the way.

    But I don't actually experience the sizing problem in nearly the same way as what seems to be going on with other commenters here!. I vary between a (UK) 10 and a 14 depending on manufacturer, but that's basically just a size up or down from what i am 80% of the time, which is a 12.

  14. Rachel

    I'm 5'3" and a size 8-10UK (US size 4-6 I think) and prety well toned from all the yoga but I have no waist. I have a really short body and long arms and legs and NO WAIST! This is one reason why I never wear trousers, and why I buy boys jeans that sit on my hips. I dress around this because I cannot stand anything tight on my waist and I never wear belts. I like dresses and A Line skirts that sit on the hips or have elastic in the waistband.

    My biggest problem is tights. On the whole I prefer leggings especially if they have a wide waistband. I do wear tights but I have yet to find a way of getting over the segmented worm feeling :/

  15. Miss Outlier

    I buy what fits, and damn the label – nobody sees it but me! I finally found that Target tights are looser around the middle and do not segment my belly, so I buy those only now. I am a really weird bra size, so I have to buy my bras at a specialty store – and the ladies there make sure I have ones that fit well and have wide bands that don't dig into my back. The same ladies say that most women wear the wrong size, so no wonder it's frustrating to find underwear you like!

  16. dawn

    I can not *stand* uncomfortable clothes. I squirm and pull and tug like a child. And I've learned that I won't end up wearing things like that anyway so there's no point in buying them. I am normally a 4-6 but I recently bought leggings in XXL (16-18) to get the look I wanted, which was an easy fitting legging, not tights masquerading as pants. I don't care what the number is…I want things to look right. (and feel comfortable!)

    As someone who ran a sewing business for 12 years, I can tell you that even the thinnest, fittest people have fitting problems, almost every single one of them. And the numbers on tags mean very, very little. They are a starting place, a tool, that's all. Different brands, qualities, and ages (i.e. vintage) of clothes will fit vastly differently. Even different colors of the same article can fit differently, especially in the case of black. And things will rarely fit perfectly unless they are made for you. If you are lucky enough to find something that feels like it was made for you…buy it in every color.

  17. Jaka Merriman

    This is the battle I'm dealing with right now; I'm not sure how I'm faring, though. I've reached a stage of my life where I'm nearly 100% positive that I won't get any thinner without making myself unhealthy, which means that lots of my clothes (some of which I still have abiding affection for) don't fit. I've got lumps.

    And so I struggle with my psyche. I know the sizes make no sense and don't actually matter, but still my ego tell me that as long as the clothes still go on, I can wear them. But I'm tired of the roll, the muffin top, the inability to bend my joints due to tightness. So I keep wrestling with my pride.

    One of the things that keeps me heading back towards the "just buy some new clothes, you clot; you feel great when you're nekkid" side is the couple of articles you've written about changing shape as we age. It's still hard, but I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that I'm 26, 150lbs, big muscly legs, soft squishy tummy instead of 21, 135lbs, and things in slightly smaller proportion.

  18. becky f.

    I agree with CompassRose — I'm alright with tights squeezing a little bit, because it's either that or dealing with bagging at the ankles. And nothing makes me feel childish, in an unfortunate way, more than that.

    I wore a new pair of tights just last week that fit smoothly in the waist. And I thought it was a miracle, until I was walking home from campus and had to keep stopping and hiding as best I could to hike them up. What I thought was a good fit was just terrible elastic. 🙂 So I'm back to squeezing again.

  19. evanadine

    generally speaking, i have NO problem buying a larger size, if im going to get a better fit.

    that said, being a smaller-plus-sized gal, it is often hard to find what im looking for in a size that fits me: im too large for the "regular" sizes, but im often too small for plus sizes!

    while i mainly aim for lump-and-bump-free, i will sometimes settle for the not-quite-perfect fit so long as i can MAKE it work.
    i dont settle for being divided in half — and i, like you, often hike my tights up to my braline to avoid being sliced. (for the record, tights are something i really have trouble finding in my size!)

    since finding this world of fashion blogs, i have learned several tips and tricks for helping myself look my best, and the main one i have learned is that sometimes, the under-layers may seem a little silly (ie, tights hiked up to your boobs or cutting the bottom off a cami so it doesnt bunch up on you) but so long as you are comfortable and the end result is a look you are happy with, try anything! go with it!

  20. Tina Z

    Squeezed back fat from bra straps is the worst. I hate it so much, yet to wear a good fitting bra it has to squeeze a little around the rib cage. Sigh. And I agree with others about low rise jeans, the dreaded muffin top doesn't looks good on anyone, even models. I think about the squeeze factor more than anything when shopping for clothes, I judge how well something fits by whether it's squeezes or not.

  21. kjlangford

    As a dancer person (I say dancer person because my performing career is off and on, but it's something you can't shake when you've been doing it for almost 20 years, but I digress) I'm constantly seeing skinny girls complaining about their lumps, "love handles", and pulling the skin out from their bones (or from where their love handles would be, if they had them) and saying "I'm fat…"

    sidenote: I'm getting to a point here, and it does not involve comparing you or other adult women to practically pre-pubescent ballet dancing sticks…

    Anyway, I was doing a show when this ritual of girls pulling skin away from their body and complaining about being fat began. one of our (male) cast members said "do you know what Josh says about that?"

    Sidenote: Josh was another performer who had worked with this same company for previous productions. he also happens to be one of the winners of So You Think You can Dance. Just saying…

    "…Josh says that's your bend skin! That's not fat, if you didn't have that skin you would never be able bend to the side, you would have to walk around and keep your torso straight up and down. you need that skin to dance."

    So if you're annoyed with your lumps and bumps, remember that they are not as big as they seem, you have to subtract some to account for your bend skin.

    This in now way answers any of your questions, but I like this story, and it was tangentially applicable. I do hate the segmentation thing, but mainly because it makes something look bad that really isn't that bad. It's just my bend skin.

  22. Anonymous

    Most of the time I don't have too much of a problem with squeezy clothes except for high-waist pants. Like Rachel I simply don't have a waist and if pants fit my waist they are way too big on my hips. If they fit my hips nicely I'm almost cut in half by the waistband. Safe to say I love the lower waist trend that's been going on and I am worried about the comeback of 80s high waisters.

    As for lumps and bumps? If i'm going somewhere really dressy I put on my spanx, otherwise I'm not bothered.

  23. Julia

    I try to buy what fits even if the size isn't what I like because I know it varies with store, cut, style, etc.

    The one problem I have is with bras! I have a larger cup size relative to the band size (or so I've been told when I've been measured.) In order to support everything fully, I like the support band to be TIGHT! I hate the feeling when the bra band is shifting around – it's uncomfortable and I feel like I'm floppin' around too much. But with a tight supportive band comes some segmenting. Then I try to wear thicker material shirts or different fits.

    Thanks for that website Eternal Voyageur! I need to try that when I go home tonight to see what's going on.

  24. Natasha

    As a (very) large-breasted woman, I HAVE to wear bras that squeeze the flesh of my back a little bit, otherwise the bra isn't supportive enough to really hold up my breasts. I try to wear bras that do that less, but I've pretty much resigned myself to it over the years.

  25. Anamika

    I hate being squeezed. I also have been upset in the past when I realized that to not be squeezed I should buy a size up. But I am adjusting that mind set slowly. So now instead of feeling guilty that I am too big or feeling like a squeezed blob, I pick out clothes that fit around the larges widths of my body. Comfort is what I go for.

  26. Anonymous

    I'm a "cusper". Most of the time I can wear a Missy 14 or 16 but of course not all manufacturers cut the same. So I really don't care what size something is, just how it fits. I do wear a 1X or 14W from some plus sizes.

    However, the worst thing about being a cusper is that the missy size might be a bit tight, but the plus size equivalent is too loose or too shapeless. A somewhat fitted size 16 in Missy suddenly becomes a tent in 1X. (e.g., I tried a Jones New York skirt in 16, my tummy bulged but the JNY skirt in the plus size was really long and a totally different style.

    I also tend not to squeeze because I have IBS and the resulting bloat plus pain makes everything worse. So I tend to size up if necessary.

    I find boy shorts are good for me, though kind of ugly. They have a bit of stretch so they can accomodate my flattish butt and my larger tummy.

    I spend a lot of time with a tailor.


  27. Danielle

    I absolutely hate tight anything…period. I have all but completely denounced bras forever. I am a small-busted girl and can get by with just a cami on. I hate being pinched and pulled up and cinched and squeezed into a shape that the good Lord just didn't create me to be. I'm happy with who I am, which is comfortable both inside and outside my skin 🙂

  28. Erin

    Jeans are hardest for me to find to fit. I don't want high-waisted mom jeans, but so many jeans in the affordable range seem to be affordable because they've skimped on fabric in the ass-covering region.

  29. Katie K

    I find buying underwear unbelievably frustrating. I have love handles and a poochy tummy and a wide but very flat butt. If I buy my underwear to keep from digging into my love handles and stomach, then it's creeping all over my behind. If it fits my butt, then it's too tight in the love handle/tummy area. So yes, my underwear squeezes and probably isn't the best foundation but I make do.

    Other than underwear, I really do believe that the size does not matter and if I have to buy an XXL in one store and a L in another to fit into something, that's fine. I have one friend who is not a big gal but who wears jeans that are at least 1-2 sizes too small for her and cut right into her stomach, giving her the worst muffin top I've ever seen and subsequently an unflattering silhouette all over. I'd love to go jeans shopping with her and find her better options. (She's still shopping in the juniors section, buying low-rise jeans despite being 26.)

    Beyond looking not so great, how is wearing ill-fitting clothing comfortable?? Having waist bands dig into you, having a shirt ride up and dig into your arm pits, having the band to your bra constantly wedged into you? No thank you.

  30. Kristin

    I've only just recently started buying undergarments and tights a size or two up for exactly these reasons. I, too, love the few tights I own that go all the way up to my ribs, cuz while I love my hourglass shape, things always tend to end up pinching and gathering around my waist, and then the bumps start. Also, I'm very careful with anything hip-hugging, especially thongs and underwear, since they can turn my hips into hipssssss!


  31. Musing Around

    I love this post! I, too, buy my underwear in a size too big. And I'm in love with grandma-sized boyshort undies! I do have a trick for avoiding the stomach squeeze with tights. I read that back in the day, women would pin the top of their tights to their bras to create a flat stomach. I do this sometimes depending on what I'm wearing. I don't know if this is a Latina thing, but we have a whole bunch of shape contorting undergarments. My mom gave me a faja (sort of like a thick Spanx) when I was 12 years old! Yikes!

  32. Couture Cookie

    Fit is crucial. Who cares about the size tag? I am on the thin side, but I'll wear anything size 0-6 without thinking much about it. There is nothing worse than tube tops with rolls under the armpit, or jeans with muffin tops… just because you can technically zip a garment up, it doesn't mean it's your best size! On the other hand, I sometimes buy a bigger size to avoid rolls – and then it stretches so I can't wear it all and have to give it to Goodwill! Fashion is tricky, for sure.

  33. Zuzuli

    I have recently decided to stop being a slave to the 'numbers game' especially when it comes to undergarments. Since they provide the foundation and support on which to base everything I wear on, I no longer care if I buy a pair of panties one size up or have to get a different bra size with a different company. It truly does make all the difference.

  34. grace

    I think a previous commenter mentioned this, but thrifting for clothes quickly gets you in the habit of looking at your size as flexible, especially if you are into vintage. I'm not hung up on the number at all.

    That being said, I do have that nine-legged unicorn problem. Often, the size that would work for me is just not available, as there seems to be this chasm between the top end of "regular" sized and the bottom end of "plus" sized that I fall smack into.

    I do hate things pushing and pulling at me, though, and I tend to just not wear certain items because of it (replacing bras with camis, tights with leggings, etc.).

  35. Melissa Blake

    I'm with Lisa — I don't care what the number on the tag – or scale – says. If I'm comfortable in my skin and what I'm wearing, it's alll gooood! xoxo

  36. J.

    I am utterly unwilling to but up with binding on my clothes, and I just donated 3 pencil skirts to charity in that vein. It will probably require going up a size, which does rankle a bit.

    At the same time, I'm trying to keep perspective. Last week I saw old photos of myself on the beach when I was in my 20s, and I vividly remember feeling self-conscious. Looking back, I wonder what I was thinking!

  37. futurelint

    My main segmenting problems are with tights – which is bad because I wear them almost every day for 7 months out of the year! However, usually once I've worn them a few times, the waist stretches out enough that it is comfortable and then I just do the undies over tights thing to keep them from migrating south. I tend to gain my weight in my stomach, so I guess it's a good reminder if my pants start digging in, to skip going out to eat this week and maybe throw and extra mile or two on the treadmill.

  38. Stephanie

    I'm a petite chubby hourglass, and I seem to have different squeeze-issues. My torso is rarely squeezed by clothing, but I have to buy everything based on whether it can accommodate my thunder thighs and arms. I can't stand having either area constricted, and yet most items that fit my petite curvy proportions in the torso will do just that. Most pants, including those with a "curvy" cut, are too loose in the waist but give me sausage thighs, while many woven shirts, jackets and knits don't do my arm waddle any favors. I'm not really sure what the segmented worm is, as my biggest issue with tights has more to do with accommodating my short fat legs and hiding the extra length. I don't even notice the waist unless it is too baggy.

  39. Chelsea

    My biggest squeeze dilemma in the past has been low-rise jeans. Whoever brought these back into popularity in the early 2000s is an asshole.

    For years and years I wore only these types of jeans… wanting to keep far away from anything tapered, pleated, or high-waisted. Finally a few years ago I discovered Joe's Jeans "muse" style, the waist of which sits above my hips just below my belly button! No more tugging my jeans up every time I get up from sitting, or tucking my hip fat into the waist band to avoid the dreaded "muffin top". No more worrying (as I squatted down to tie my shoe/check the air in my tires/pick something I dropped) that I was exposing my butt crack or thong. Finally! The muse style is especially great for my shape because while it has generous room for my hips, thighs, and booty, the waist cinches in just as my natural one does. No gaps in the back!

    I still have some low-rise jeans that I tolerate, but from now on I plan to only purchase those that I won't have to constantly yank up all the time.

    As for tights… as long as I can get them over my belly button (my piercing doesn't like when the waist sits directly on it), I'm a happy girl. I usually disguise any segmenting with a belt anyway!

    Oh, I know this is slightly different, but being a bit broad in the shoulders I have a really hard time finding jackets that are comfortable. They all make me feel unable to move my arms and thus claustrophobic! I'm much more inclined to buy a jacket-shaped garment in a stretchy sweater or jersey fabric and layer up for warmth!

  40. Rosie Unknown

    I absolutely refuse to tolerate segmenting. Maybe it's spending too much time surrounded by muffin tops, but the thought of anything segmenting or distorting my body is like a nightmare to me.

  41. Angela Pea

    Hate, hate HATE being squeezed. It drives me bonkers.

    I'll be totally honest here – yes, the numbers do affect me. It doesn't stop me from buying the size that fits, but seeing those big numbers still hurts my feelings. I know in my head that I am approaching the mid century mark, I've had four children, and no amount of exercise is going to make my waistline and flat tummy come back. In my heart I miss it.

    That being said, YES! I buy underpants upsized to avoid panty lines! I've also found that granny panties (briefs) that rise up to the waist and go all the way under the cheeks have the cleanest line with the least bulges under clothing. NOT pretty at all on their own, though! 🙂

  42. burntphotograph

    where i don't have problems with squeezing underwear or bras (a trip to soma and a fab fitting took care of that) i constantly get squished by skirts! i am a "H" shape and carry most of my weight in front, in my stomach. pants are weighed down with length and sit in the right spot (and can be told to with a belt) but skirts constantly ride up (or down) and i am pulling them all day. it's so annoying that my skirts usually hang in my closet until the summer when it's hot and i have no other choice. 🙁

    in the last few years i've had to go up a size, which was hard at first but i did it… oddly enough, i still wear the same size in all the stores i shop at, just one size up.

  43. starvingwritenow

    segments? No, no problem at all! I just wear mumuus!

    Seriously, though, lower rise pants/shorts, etc. (NOT the teeny bopper crotch-tastic low rise stuff, mind) have been godsends to me because I have a shorter torso and anything that actually sits at my waist will cut in and make me supremely uncomfortable.

  44. Una

    I was actually wearing my pants around my hips long before the trend, only because I can't stand the pinching around the belly… I'm a size 2-4 at the Gap, but a size 12-14 in vintage, and anywhere in between depending on brand. I absolutely refuse to let size dictate my comfort level… When I thrift, I'll browse from 2 to 12 in the racks, because I've made some great finds out of my size range. Thanks for posting this fantastic topic, Sal!

  45. valerie

    Ugh. I'm short waisted and any weight gain goes to my chest and the spare tire area right below the belly button. My belly protrudes even when I am at my thinnest – it just sticks out because I'm short waisted and the organs inside have no where else to go!!

    Anything that makes indents around the waist makes me feel super conscious of my belly. There's also the itch factor of having some horrible woolen waistband cutting into sensitive belly flesh all day. My skin is crawling just thinking about it. Yuck. If it's tight all over like spanx and sucks everything in uniformly, that's fine but the segmenting effect is all bad. I remember being little and reading some book that described a woman's figure as looking "like a pillow with a string tied around the middle". Not a very nice sentiment but it stuck with me growing up.

    I sort of care about the number on the tag (or the size of the sewing pattern), even though I wish I didn't. If it really bothers me, I just cut the tag off so I don't have to look at it. I definitely won't buy a smaller size of bottom if it's not comfortable but also don't want to buy too large because then the extra fabric adds bulk around the waist.

    The other thing is that a brand might run very small, but otherwise be very well cut for a particular body type. DVF fits me very well, but I have to go up two sizes to wear it (when I can afford it).

    I find that pants and skirts with a mid to low rise and a faced or contoured waistband on the inside are more comfortable than a traditional band that is sewn on.

  46. Bianca

    I do not wear anything uncomfortable, that binds or squeezes. Sizing up often only puts shoulders and sleeves or hemlines in the WRONG place on my body. No thanks!

    I know alot of girls like spanx-type garments. But my natural waist is so much smaller (and SHORTER) than the lower areas, that the dumb things either roll down and give me a weird muffin top, or they do not fit all the way up where they are supposed to, and leave me with droopy crotch.

    Even in my proper size, sometimes clothing still shows some lumps and bumps on me.I do not mind my natural lumps and bumps. The belly and love handles are there, thats just the plain truth, and nothing is going to hide that. Its much worse to try fight it than embrace it LOL!

  47. Josie

    I'm on the tall side and carry pretty much all my wieght below my hips.
    It took me a few years to be able to purchase "Fat girl" tights. So I just never wore them, and very very rarely wore skirts or dresses because it was too cold or if I wore tights or nylons the crotch part was halfway down my thighs, ever with the largest sizes. Not comfy or flattering. Then I got over myself, purchased a pair of plus sized tights, and now I wear them all the time.
    The other thing I can never find to fit are pants. Especially Jeans. By the time I get them to fit around my thighs, the waist is literally 3 inches too big. I can often stick a whole hand in the waistband sometimes. No acceptable to me. It can be super frustraing, and as a result I only own 2 or 3 pairs of jeans. Mosty the same brand and the same cut.

  48. Charlotte

    As I have confessed here before, I am a long-legged 5'7" woman with the body of someone who should be 4'10" tall. My waist and armpits merge. I might as well wrap a belt around my throat as try to put one around my waist, so much does it suffocate me. (Aside: Imagine this body pregnant with an 8-pound baby.) Pants are the difficult item to fit. That includes anything with a crotch–tights, underpants, jeans. I stopped wearing pantyhose because they gave me stomach cramps, and for about 20 years went for long skirts and knee-highs (truly attractive on a windy day). I've gone back to short skirts (easy to find for me–although something sold as a mini is absolutely indecent) and tights, which seem somehow more forgiving than they used to be (newfangled fabric, maybe). If a garment cuts, it goes to Goodwill. I loathe being constricted in my clothes.

  49. K.Line

    I have a post coming up about how sewing changes one's perspective on body shape. Like you, i have relatively few hangups about body size and shape – but man, I've never felt less hung up since I realized that every shape is unique and equally dressable, in the scheme of things. Once you start sewing patterns in a size 14 (standard sizing as opposed to RTW), the gloves are off. You realize, if a 14 here is a 6 there – the numbers are truly meaningless. And then, when you need to adjust patterns on top of that, well, aren't we all dealing with something at least slightly different?

    Fit is everything. As long as it's perfectly contoured to me, it will be comfortable and it will look great.

  50. Cassie

    i'm not going to call the fashion police, but your bra needs to be snug. if it's not, you are not getting the right support. i fit bras, and that extra armpit fat is often because the bra's wings are narrow. i have seen size 0 teens with the armpit fat because of narrow wings. get yourself a good bra fitting. it will save you a world of trouble later. as an inbetweenie who ends up bra shopping at LB, i understand the not wanting things to bind or be segregating. but your boobs need that tight support. a loose bra gives loose boobs, and can hurt your shoulders and back.

  51. Kelly

    I don't think I have anything that binds or squeezes funny. At least not that I can think of.

  52. Jenniferocious

    I hate constricting clothes, period. I have days that I can't even bear to wear certain tops that I own, because the clingyness bothers me. I do buy tights slightly larger than I need to in order to avoid so much of the constricting, and this also helps to make sure they're nice and opaque, because they don't need to stretch as much. And I plan outfits around things like tights… clingy dress + squeezy tights = a no go, for me. I have this issue with jeans, too. I have a small waist but big-ish thighs (according to the denim industry, anyway), plus a decently sized butt, so I have a hard time finding jeans that fit in the waist, but aren't skin tight on my thighs/hips/butt. So I buy them big enough to fit my legs, and then cinch them up in the waist with a belt. I HATE when they're skin tight around my legs! Another reason why I prefer skirts and dresses. 🙂 I really don't have the problem with bras, but I can definitely relate to the tights issue!

  53. A-C

    My darling Sal, I wholeheartedly agree with you on principle. But in practice, its really really hard. Jeans, for example, suck. I love them, I wear them a minimum of 3 times a week, but finding a pair (or 3!) that fit me without lumpage is not going to happen. This is because I have wider hips and thighs and a smaller waist, but I haven't found jeans that fit my body perfectly. Another example is bras. I'm a 36G. I can't afford to buy a bigger band because suddenly my boobs are down to my belly button. (NOT cute or comfortable)
    Another thing that I've noticed is that the bigger the size, the less based on a woman's body a garment really is. What I mean is that maybe a size 8 is based on a real woman, but subsequent sizes just add more fabric without considering how women are really built. So the bigger the size, 12, 14, 16, 18, the less likely its built for a woman and more likely its shaped like a tent.
    Another issue is weight loss. If you're in the process of losing weight, its really easy to end up between sizes. So then what do you do? swim in clothes that are too big or get a bit lumpy in clothes that are too small?
    ok, rant over.

    Sal, even though I end up all rant-y, I want to let you know that I *love* that you bring up these tough issues. It really matters that we think and talk about these issues and help each other find solutions, so thanks!

  54. Angel

    I haven't got a problem with going a few sizes up, especially since in Israel sizing isn't right anyway. Here I'm a Medium-Large even an extra large, and I'm tiny.

  55. lisa

    I have a little bit of pudge right between my armpits and my boobs that always drives me nuts. I know my bras fit properly because they fit all the other criteria for a good fit (not cutting into my back, strap isn't riding up, I'm not overflowing, the centre rests against my sternum, the underwires lie flat), so it's not my bras. I'm always on the lookout for camis, tops, and dresses with high-cut armholes that mask that because I'd rather have a flattering, fuss-free outfit than be afraid to raise my arms too far!

  56. GB73

    I'm curvy- with thunder thighs and generous hips. I hate being squeezed and that goes for undergarments as well- no thongs that will keep riding up. I've solved this problem with stretchy maternity high-cut panties. They are SO comfortable.

  57. Kate Coveny Hood

    I'm with you on this! I buy my thongs a size up for that very reason. AND I don't care what the lingerie department bra fitter says, if she says I'm a 32 B – I'm buying 34 (and that's a compromise from teh 36 I really want).

  58. Anonymous

    I hate tight clothes, and I don't care what size I have to buy to get a smooth, flattering fit. I am not overweight, and I've worn a 16 or 18 my whole adult life; I'm 52 now, so that's not likely to change, nor do I really care about it as long as I feel good. I refuse to wear a girdle or body shaper, either — such torture! For the same reason, I avoid "control top" tights and pantyhose.

    There used to be plus-sized cotton tights available that did not have a control top, but whoever was making them stopped, so I rarely wear tights anymore. I stick with pants in cold weather.

    Here's my tip on pinchy-waisted tights and hose: I take a pair of scissors and make a vertical cut along the seam at the waist until it's comfortable. As long as I don't cut past the waistband, the material doesn't run. It doesn't look so great, but no one ever sees it but me (and maybe my husband). This has prevented many uncomfortable hours when I've had to wear the hose and had no time to shop for the perfect fit.

  59. Anonymous

    I get really annoyed by bras that create lumps on my back. I'm not even very chubby there! There has to be a way to make bras fit without creating those lumps.

  60. Amy

    Waistband-less tights seriously CHANGED. MY. LIFE. They stay up just as well and there is no thick band that digs into you. You can sometimes find them at Walmart or similar stores (the pair i have is the brand Secret and i got them at Walmart) but if you can't find them there, they almost always stock them in maternity stores. Don't be fooled by tights that only look like they are waistband-free (I have made this mistake) only buy if they say "waistband-free" on the label.

  61. Natalie

    I'm a pear and I deal with the squeezing. I usually wear what I call my girdle (really more like compression shorts) when I wear skirts and dresses to hopefully suck in my hip, thighs and rear, but of course I can't find any that fit snugly enough up top to actually shape my stomach area that don't cut off circulation to that fleshy area above my knees. Heaven forbid my skirt even flips up enough to reveal my sausage encased thighs. I think I have upside down 'muffin top' in that area where the girdle ends and my knees begin!

    All this talk of squeezing reminds me of the time my college roommates and I were sitting around the dinner table and one of them clutched her chest and groaned. We thought she might be having heart issues until she reached down her shirt and fished out the culprit of the pain – the underwire from her bra!

    Sheesh! The stuff we put up with to "look pretty"!

  62. Donloree

    Hanky panky underwear women! It's one size fits most and there is no segmentation! They have plus size as well.

    I used to really care about the size on the tag. Today I am wearing size 8 jeans and an x-large shirt. So there you go. Who cares? I look super cute with my red jump boots, fab red belt, and feel like a million bucks.

    So to heck with the tag!

  63. Anonymous

    Let'a just say my daughter is two and a half years old and my favourite pair of underwear is a pair of low-rider maternity underwear I bought when I was pregnant with her. I would way rather too loose than too tight when it comes to underwear!

  64. Rebecca

    Being 5' 11" I don't have the luxury of buying tights too large. :/
    I usually cram myself into whatever I can get, the largest size, and usually it fits.
    Being 16-10-12 (in clothing sizes), I'm pretty much in between regular sizes and plus sizes. Clothes shopping is a challenge; if it fits my boobs its loose all over, if it fits everything itll be too short. Le sigh. But I deal with it 🙂

  65. Laura

    I'm actually struggling with this issue. I was trying on various dresses I own since we'll be going on vacation soon. I wanted to bring a few favorites which I don't think I've actually worn in 2+ years (I have this problem with buying new dresses when we go somewhere/have an occasion) I was pretty appalled to find out they just didn't fit me anymore or were too tight! What a total downer. I mean I should know better, I just hate the reminder. This past New Years eve we went down to the city, I had bought a new dress of course that happened to point out my "saddle bags" and tum. My sister talked me into Spanx tights, the ones that go up to your bra! Those are no joke! But I was actually embarrassed that it had come to that, I still am. I mean I think I'm average 6/8(even though that varies), I USED to be a size zero which to this day I'll say I was waay too sickly looking. Its just hard for me to accept that I've gained weight like I've said I wanted to(to get away from people asking me if I ate!). Sometimes I like to blame it on the fact that I'm 31 lol. I beat myself up a lot, but then I remind myself I have curves(well hips/booty I could use more boobage lol), I look healthy. I'm just not up to the standards of 'Hollywood/models' which is okay by me, but sometimes its hard not to get caught up in that.

    This is why I love to read your blog Sal, you are a constant reminder that everyone is beautiful no matter size/style etc. Plus I love to learn from you, you're inspiring!

  66. Beatrice

    I totally agree on buying what fits no matter what the tag says. I too buy thongs that fit no matter what size I wear in normal panties, because hip sections I can't stand on me!
    And as for the bulges that tights may bring, well baby, that's why I went with stockings and garter belts years ago! Garter belts are adjustable 😀

  67. Steph

    I have no problem–well, very little problem–with buying whatever size outer garment fits me best. And if no size fits well in all necessary areas, then I just keep looking. But undergarments can be torture! Especially stuff designed to smooth out lumpage, which I have plenty of around my torso. I don't wear thigh shapers under skirts and dresses for the shaping feature so much as for the thigh-chafing-preventive feature. So many of the thigh-shaper designs out there roll down at the waistband as they squeeze, and since I don't really want compression, just smoothing, I buy up by 1 to 2 sizes–tights and hose, too. And I prefer shapers–and tights/hose!–that come higher on the torso–almost to the bra band–so that when they do inevitably slip, they don't go very far and therefore don't roll and bunch and squeeze at my waist. That kind of binding drives me nuts and makes me really grumpy! For bras, I make sure to buy the correct cup and band size, but I favor styles that have a wide band to help smooth those embarrassing back rolls. I used to feel embarrassed for wearing shaping undergarments–like obviously I was too fat for words if I had to wear a shaper and should just wear a muumuu already and get it over with–but I got over that pretty quick. They're very handy, they can make wearing clothes far more comfortable, and yes, they at least make me feel like I look a bit better in certain items of clothing. I've often wished the corset would just come back for good. Now there was some shaping! Yay for foundation garments!

  68. lopi

    I have clothes in my closet that say XS and I have clothes that say XL. And I buy underwear in large sizes so they don't dig into me too!

    I also started hating low-rise pants that create lumps where there aren't any.

    BUT I really don't mind tights that squeeze me in the waist. I mean, I use belts to create that effect, why should I bother if my tight do the same? They actually help define my waist and my belts to stay in place!

  69. Anonymous

    The low-rise trend is just awful for all but the most toned and taut of stomachs! I love Hue brand sweater tights, the waistbands of which feel quite like sweatpants. And I always buy tights and hose that go up high on my waist. It creates such a nice, smooth line. Even a thin woman looks chunky with a bifurcated middle.

    I also love shaping garments like Spanx (and the Leggs brand shapers that are sold at drugstores are really just as good). Such a nice, smooth line from hip to bra! Buy them a size up if you don't want to actually look thinner, just smoother (bonus: they'll be easier to put on). Spanx even makes a shaper that connects to your bra, as well as shaping tops with built-in bras.

    Also, if your bra creates a roll, it doesn't fit right. Get measured (or measure yourself using the tips on a site like barenecessities.com) and your life will be changed.

  70. Anonymous

    I hate being squished. I loathe the panty line, and I loathe hosiery that doesn't fit.

    That being said, I've yet to find hosiery that does… For bras, I like many other posters, am used to them squeezing me around the chest a little bit, because I'm a rather large size and a small ribcage, and there's just no other way to get things properly hoisted.

    I feel very much in the minority by saying that I love low rise jeans. Finally, jeans that don't come all the way up to the bra-line on me! But I'm very short, and carry most of my extra weight in my hips and thighs, so it's guaranteed that anything that fits me on the hips will definitely fit (and usually be large) on the waist.