Several commenters balked at my pant length post. Not because they disagreed with my assertions, but because the very idea of buying pants in several different hem lengths to accommodate a variety of heel heights seemed both costly and excessive.
And I hear that: Stocking up on your favorite black slacks in short, average, and tall lengths to prepare yourself for any shoe-related eventuality may sound positively ludicrous. And since quality dress pants run anywhere from $80 to $200 a pop, we’re also talking about a substantial chunk of change, here.
And yet, unless all of your shoes are the same height, you can’t rely on one hem length to work all the time. Unless you wear flats or mid heels or giant platforms EXCLUSIVELY, all day, every day, year-round, your pants are gonna look downright goofy sometimes.
Similarly, if you want to layer tops successfully, you’d better accumulate an array of tightnesses and lengths. Sometimes nothing but skintight will work underneath a certain outer layer. And sometimes your shorter shirts will ride up and drive you bonkers if you try to stick them under a close-fitting sweater. And if all you have is loose tees or tight tees or short tees or long tees, you will struggle to layer and your tops are gonna look downright goofy sometimes.
Furthermore, if you like to play around with belting, you may have discovered that your pant belts are totally useless if you want to belt at your natural waist, or try out the hip-slung look. You need smaller belts for the cinched look, wearing-waist belts for keeping your trousers up, and considerably looser belts for hugging your hips.* If you let your single length of belt sag off your natural waist, or squeeze the life out of your hips you simply won’t look your best.
You’d never buy a single color and style of sock and wear it with every outfit, every shoe, every day, would you? You need whites for the gym, thick ones for your winter boots, knee-high silky ones for conservative work stuff, peds for your flats, cute patterned ankle socks to peek out from your Mary Janes. You’d never buy a giant down parka and expect it to work for every outdoor outing from October to April. You need a denim jacket for breezy warm days, a wool peacoat for when it is just starting to get cold, a fancy coat for special occasions … OK, you get the point.
And if you don’t care, you don’t care. If you have to compromise, you have to compromise. It is not financially feasible to attempt preparedness for every stylistic need, and I would never advise anyone to make that a goal.
But most of us cycle through clothes, purging out our closets on a seasonal or annual basis. Next time you are sorting out your wardrobe, consider this before chucking something into the giveaway pile: If it doesn’t work for your everyday purposes, should it be stashed for occasional use? If it’s pants that are “too long” but otherwise fit fine, could they be tucked away for use with towering heels? If it’s a fine gauge sweater so tight you can see your internal organs protruding through the fiber, could it be set aside for wintry layerings? If that belt your cousin gave you is WAY too tight for your jeans, could it work when you want to throw a belt over a cardi or dress?
You don’t necessarily need to keep variety of fit in mind when you SHOP, but it’s a fantastic thing to take into account when you PURGE. Also a good concept to bear in mind if you are a thrift shopper: Accumulating a variety of fits is mainly a burden on the bank account, but much less so if you are buying those skintight tees for pennies on the dollar.
Those with an extremely consistent style and minimalist wardrobe may not need to worry about amassing an array of pant lengths, shirt fits, and belt styles. But those who experiment a lot and have larger, more varied wardrobes should consider finding ways to accumulate variety of fit. This type of variety helps make personal style more resilient, and is a truly worthwhile investment.
*This is assuming that your natural waist is smaller than your wearing waist which is smaller than your hips. Apple shaped women may not experience this, but many women see some difference in circumference between these three areas.
Originally posted 2009-10-05 05:58:00.