The Curvy Girl’s Guide to Buying Pants

I’m winging my way to the Christian blogging conference today. So, while I’m busy complaining about Pennsylvania’s frozen-arsicle cold weather and hiding in bathrooms clutching my bottle of Xanax (because I don’t do Christian-y groups very well), I’ve asked my good friend, KatR of “The Sucky Protestant,” to guest post for me. xo. EE.


The majority of clothing designers seem to make pants based on the figures of 16 year old Ukrainian supermodels. For those of us who are built with hips and butts and (let’s be honest here) thighs that go OUT, and waists that go IN, shopping for pants can be excruciating. So, when the fashion world is not ready for your jelly, I’ve developed a few tips to try and make the shopping process more bearable.

First, this is a shopping trip you do alone. This is not you and your best friend Tiffani giggling as you pick out cute outfits and then go do lunch. This trip is a dark night of the soul, a time of examining the nature of good and evil and questioning the existence of a benevolent God.

You might be tempted to think this is when you really NEED your friends. Wrong.  Your friends will probably fall into one of two categories:

  1. Ones who say helpful things like “Wow, those don’t fit either?” or,
  2. fellow Curvy Girls who so empathize with what you’re going through that they’ll have a traumatic flashback to that dressing room at New York & Co, November 2004 and be no help to you at all.

Trust me on this. Go alone.

When you get to the first store and find pants that you like, in addition to sizes that you think might fit, you also need to grab the largest size they have. I mean the absolute largest size. If the store has a 79 XXXL, take this size. These are the first pair of pants you try on.

Yes, they are absolutely enormous and will fall off you.  This is when you need to look in the mirror and tell yourself how slender and birdlike you are. Say something like: “It’s so hard being one of those women who just CAN’T gain weight, isn’t it? I’m so delicate, maybe I need to sit down a minute. Where are my smelling salts?”

This may seem like a ridiculous bit of delusional thinking, but don’t skip this step. You will need the emotional reinforcement, for you are about to face “The Gap”–and no, that’s not the clothing store.

If the pants are large enough to cover the hips and the baby-got-back area of a Curvy Girl, they are inevitably too big in the waist, leading to The Gap. I don’t mean a little pucker in the waist-band, I mean an area between the butt and the waist of the pants large enough to store two soup cans.

As you try on and discard pants, you will start moving through the five stages of Gap Grief. The most dangerous of these stages is bargaining, when you try and convince yourself that Gappy pants will work because you will buy a huge blouse to cover the Gap area. Do not fall for this. You will misjudge how much blouse you actually need and only discover this once you’re standing on stage waiting to be given an award for Volunteer of the Year. That’s when you’ll feel a cool breeze on your butt crack.

The only top that can safely cover this area is a knee-length tunic. If you can pull off the tunic and pants look, I am very happy for you.  This combo makes me look like I’m waiting for one of the Duggar boys to reach legal age.

After trying on few dozen pairs of pants with no success, you will need to stop, go home, and have some Post Curvy Girl Pants Shopping Recovery Time. This will involve your couch, several hours of trash television and possibly cocktails. The only two shows you should avoid are Hoarders (because you will get up from the couch and start cleaning maniacally) and House Hunters (because the sight of two computer programmers in their mid-twenties buying a chic condo in downtown San Francisco will only further depress the hell out of you).

Of course, every once in a great while, a Curvy Girl pants shopping excursion leads to the truly miraculous. You will find a pair. of pants. that fit. O the glory. For a brief moment, you understand the deep mysteries of the universe. You want to call Oprah and tell her you are living your best life.

The best Curvy Girl pants I ever found were a pair of black Isaac Mizrahi at Target. I should probably be looking for additional pairs on Ebay, because if I ever lose these I will need bereavement leave.

If you are a Curvy Girl and would like to share where you have had luck finding pants, please, for the love of all that is merciful, do so below.

  • Jill

    relating completely and laughing too….sometimes, that’s all you can do. 

  • Katy-Anne

    Target has some that fit now that they make pants in different fits such as “curvy” etc.

  • Rebecca @ The Road Home

    Actually – I find my pants at The Gap!  I love their sizing, I can even order online now w/o trying on because it is so consistent :).  They have a cut called ‘curvy’ and their ‘perfect trouser’ cut is my absolute favorite!

    And my personal thought:  Skinny jeans don’t look good on skinny girls, so curvy ladies, don’t feel bad be glad that you don’t have to pretend to love them!  (I don’t :)).

  • KatR

    I could have done an entire OTHER post on “skinny jeans”. Boot cut only for this girl!

  • Hannah C.

    Curvy Levis from Dillard’s.

  • Elisabeth Kaizer

    You know…this totally describes me and I haven’t even left my computer to go to a store to try some on! Seriously everywhere I’ve looked the jeans are described as “slim through hip and thighs” WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE????

  • Tracey

    LOVE this post! 

    I like Wrangler’s Aura jeans for me. I always get the long ones even though I am average height. I hate sitting down and then having my pant leg ride way up my calf, exposing my cankles like Bill Clinton in black socks and pasty while ankles. They cover my boots nicely and keep the cankles at bay. 

  • Vasi

    I’ll second those Target jeans! I’ve only worn the skinny ones (in Mossimo black brand, don’t even go near xhilaration or mossimo red) and they are amazing. The elastic keeps them from falling and they have the perfect rise–ALMOST to the belly button, but not over it, so you don’t get the mom pouch.

  • Patricia

    YAY!!!  So nice to know I’m not alone…sometimes shopping for jeans and slacks gets so frustrating that I conclude that only skirts work on my body type.  Thanks for the ideas about stores & brands to try. :)

  • Handsfull

    If only… I don’t have the kind of legs that look good in shorter skirts (by which I mean anything above calf-height), and longer skirts remind me forcibly of my fundie past, so I can’t wear skirts either!  Sigh…

  • Anonymous

    My problem is usually the length. I’m 5’10″ and I have very long legs. I also am curvy on the bottom. Best jeans – American Eagle. I can get them in extra long if needed. And as long as I try them on first, I’m usually okay with nothing hanging out. Best dress/khakis – Old Navy’s Perfect Khakis in long.

  • Michelle

    OH MY GOSH. Can I just say, “I know, right?” Seriously. I really don’t even consider myself unbelievably curvy. I only wear around a 6. But, I dread shopping for jeans – there is ALWAYS a huge gap that has no purpose. WHO FILLS THAT SPACE? I demand to know.

  • Erin

    HA, HA, HA, HA!!!  It’s so wonderful to find someone who can totally relate, and has a great sense of humor as well.  Every. Single. Word. Fits. Me.  Thanks!

  • KatR

    Thank you to everyone for your wonderful comments, and a BIG thank you to Elizabeth for asking me to do this!!!!!

  • Gmommagreen65

    I’m just a little over 5 foot short legs & curvy short jeans are to short but the average are to long never can find any that fit in the right places always to small in the thighs. If they do fit at first after a few hours of wearing them they become baggy. Wish someone would come up with a design pair of jeans that would fit different areas whatever the may be baby got back,thighs,belly,short legs,hips,ect I say it’s our time for curvy jeans!! We are real women not bone with skin over it models.

  • Melissa @Permission to Live

    I have a baggy old pair of jeans from Lane Bryant. They make them for short people and tall people, and different types of curvy. So they are OK. I also have a pair of size 15 jeans that actually fit me without gaping and without falling down, but I was given them by a friend, so I have no idea where they got them. Love this post! It is so true. I should have my husband read it so he can better understand how much I hate shopping. :)

    PS Nice to see you finally have a blog!

  • Patricia

    Actually, that’s a great point, too!  The best type of skirt for me is A-line that falls just below my knee, and I have trouble finding those.  I agree–sigh… 

  • Rushia

    That’s hilarious. Thanks for the laugh and reminding me I’m not the only one. :)

  • Allison

    Old Navy!  They had a pretty wide assortment of shapes now.  I even found a pair of “skinny jeans” that don’t feel like I’m trying to wear an Iron Maiden.  Actually the only thing that’s skinny about them is that they fit inside my boots.  Perfect!

  • Allison

    Old Navy!  They had a pretty wide assortment of shapes now.  I even found a pair of “skinny jeans” that don’t feel like I’m trying to wear an Iron Maiden.  Actually the only thing that’s skinny about them is that they fit inside my boots.  Perfect!

  • Nancy

    Love this post!  I’ve had success at Target too — with their “curvy” fit Mossimo jeans.  I will cry when bootcut, low-rise goes completely out o’style . . . I’m so short-waisted that my bottom ribs are inside the waistline of old-school pants and mom jeans.  Haven’t had the guts to buy skinny jeans yet — if you do a post about that, I will be reading it!  Better include photos . . . :o)

  • Lisa Granger

    Yes, yes, yes!  I totally get this. I feel like my biggest issue is torso length to limb length ratio. I have a super long torso and short stocky legs and I pretty much store all of my fat in my butt and thighs. Waist-wise, I tend to need about a size 2-4 and hip/butt/leg wise an 8-10, (though to be fair women’s sizes vary so much that doesn’t really mean anything…) so anything that I can actually get up over my butt I totally swim in up above, (“the gap”) and anything that would theoretically fit me in the waist, gets stuck above the knees and never actually makes it there.
    When Apple Bottom jeans first came out, I was so freaking excited, but they ended up being the most atrociously fitting jeans I’ve ever tried on in my life.  Jennifer Lopez’s signature jeans, which I was also initially super-geeked about produced a similar result. 
    I loved when low-riders were in fashion, because then I would just buy the size that fit over my thighs, belt it at the hips and call it good–no actual waist to worry about. I think I sobbed when I read that first article, a few years back describing that high-waisted pants were in again. Literally, sobbed.
    The only well-fitting pair of jeans I’ve ever found have been Banana Republic’s boot cut regular fit jeans (which I found really odd, because nothing from Gap, Old Navy, or Athleta, ever fits me right), but sadly, about a year ago, BR changed their sizing and nothing quite works any more.
    I really, really, just want a pair of jeans that I can walk in without sausage legs or fear of crotch-tearing when I sit that I do not constantly have to hitch up or safety pin. Please?
    For now, I’m pretty much resigned to skirts and leggings and yoga pants.

  • mkwarbler

    I fell in love with Khol’s Sonoma life + style brand.  I am a shorter (5’4) curvy girl with a bum that black men hit on and a waist about 13 inches smaller than my hips-that-dont-lie.  I have never been able to find anything that could fit my hips and waist simultaneously.  They are low-rise, but cover enough to hug in that stomach-pouch.
    I found them by accident and I just bought 2 more pair.
    Try them all on because some fit too tight, but I now own two perfect pair and I dont regret shelling out the $$ for them.

  • Deidra

    Exactly! “Who fills that space?”

  • Kelly

    Another Target fan – Merona Fit 1 (though oddly, I need a different size in the jeans vs. dress pants). I’ve also had some luck w/ St. John’s Bay chinos from JCPenney.

  • Shari@Rain into Rainbows

    Oh my word… laughing so hard tears are flowing down my face. I too suffer from The Gap. It’s even worse now that I’m in a wheelchair — fashion for a plus size gal AND a wheelchair user? Believe me, if it looks rough propped up standing in a dressing room, it looks 10x worse in a wheelchair!

    Thanks, I needed this after sorting through several hundred dollars’ worth of online orders of clothes just a few minutes ago & discovering that the XXLs of the world are snug while the Plus 1Xs are too big. Go figure.