... clothing doesn’t always “have you covered” when limbs are long and slender.
While the fantasy of haute couture favours the tall thin ideal, the reality of the high street often falls short. Meanwhile, shoes certainly don’t fit like a glove when their occupants are long and narrow. Life in the tall lane, fashionably speaking at least, can be vexing. In this article we hope to help you with top tips that will keep you covered, comfortable, and cool!
THE TALL EDIT FOR WOMEN
Pioneering retailer Long Tall Sally (LTS) is an emporium for tall ladies. Founded in 1976, it was perhaps the first fashion destination for teenagers and women over 5 foot 8 in pursuit of stylish apparel where the "hips, hems, pockets and plackets are exactly where they should be". Threatened with closure during lockdown in 2020, it was taken over and lives to dress another day. Opinions are divided on its new incarnation, but thankfully for those missing the old-style LTS there are also many, many other options available these days!
In fact, the Facebook group TALLternative Retail was born out of the worry that LTS was going to fold completely – here tall women (and men) exchange their latest discoveries of clothes and shoes for fellow tallies, and it is a veritable treasure trove of new shops to discover. (Warning: you may want to hide your credit card)
Sustainable womenswear from a family-owned firm can be found at Jumping Ships. The fabrics are all natural and organic, the clothes are made in England, and they design a special edition for tall women.
Meanwhile Horizon Tall "celebrates long limbs & tall torsos in all their glory, banishing chilly wrists and ankles forever! "
Specialising in rugby apparel and leisurewear, Cotton Traders carries sizes from XS to 5XL.
Described by The Independent as a "savour for long-limbed teens", Topshop Tall was acquired in 2021 by Asos in a buyout but remains as dependable as ever - "You can’t go wrong with a pair of mom jeans which come in a range of waist sizes and 36in inseam" according to The Independent.
One-woman-run Ooh Betty makes made-to-measure trousers, dresses, tops and hoodies in beautiful retro prints. They have just just announced that their tall range will now be their main, standard offering!
THE TALL EDIT FOR MEN
Brooklyn Big and Tall "sources its merchandise from all over the world to get the best possible prices. The management of Brooklyn has been working in clothing business since the 1970s and now the third generation has taken the reins."
Charles Tyrwhitt was recommended by Marfan Trust Supporter, Tracy, who says: "they do a good line of Chinos and offer a variety of fits to suit of all sorts of shapes and styles, and although they're not the cheapest, they frequently have some sort of discount offer. They also do a great line in longer length formal shirts".
Tracy also recommends Hawes and Curtis as "they were able to adjust sleeve length and fit across the shoulder for a small additional cost to ensure that the tall length of the jacket was in perfect overall length. Their trousers come in unfinished length and so are adjusted to fit as part of the normal suit price. Even with the adjustments, it came out as a fairly reasonably priced suit that fits!.
Other lines for men include:
John Banks Big and Tall Menswear - a family-run business that understands the shopping limitations for big and tall men and so provide access to a bigger and taller clothing range that mainstream shops typically found on the high street don’t support; Cotton Traders which specialises in rugby and leisurewear and carries sizes between XS and 5XL; Jacamo which offers nuanced between-sizes for tall men; Next which has expanded with a big and tall range; and 2tall.com which celebrates "tall, slim guys - men who are tall, not big and tall, tall guys just like us".
THE TALL EDIT FOR CHILDREN
With children, buying clothes for an age group several years in advance of the child’s age may provide suitable sizing. Long narrow shoes are difficult to find, but a lace-up Oxford shoe is best for growing feet to provide support around the arch. Flat shoes or low heels are recommended to prevent strain on joints.
Sturdy Kids is the home of quality, comfortable plus fit children's clothing
Long narrow shoes are difficult to find, but a lace-up Oxford shoe is best for growing feet to provide support around the arch. Often, sports shoes are the most comfortable and can be made to fit by wearing thick socks and padding the tongue with felt. Special Feetures meanwhile keeps the narrow foot secure with their slim fits and long designs. Flat shoes or low heels are recommended to prevent strain on joints.
BIg Foot Shoes is, as you'd expect, a specialist in large footwear, from size 12 to 19 for men, and from 8 to 12 for women. Meanwhile, Big Shoe Direct also focuses on large footwear but only for men, producing12+ sizes.
Cinderella Shoes sell lovely shoes for women with larger feet, as does Ellie Dickens who was "frustrated at discovering shoes she loved, only to be told they didn't come in her size, Ellie decided to do something about it and in 1999, she opened Ellie Dickins Shoes in Hungerford. Her problem had become her passion!"
Crispin’s Shoes are "specialists in high-end, high-fashion European made ladies large shoes. Our selection of women’s plus size shoes is aimed at tall, beautiful women who appreciate the finer things in life."
At the pricier, bespoke end of the market, James Taylor Shoes offer "beautifully made, perfectly fitting bespoke shoes and orthopaedic footwear".
Laura Schofield spent a lifetime searching for beautiful shoes to fit her size 43 feet and the result is her gorgeously designed trove of women's shoes Otto + Ivy, named for the Italian word for eight, and the "the climbing plant that rises and refuses to be tamed".
Finally, Bolnique offers a glamorous range for long feet.
According to The Independent, Lucyandyak.com "is an independent brand that has been making waves recently with its sustainably sourced, ethical and organic handmade dungarees that come in an array of colours, styles and most importantly for us, lengths. Lucy and Yak has recently introduced longer length inseams for size 8 and above, which range from 80 to 83cm (31 to 32in). The longer pieces also have an extra 5cm on the torso."
Additional Resources & Insider Tips
The Tall Club UK - The Tall Persons Club GB & Ireland is for very tall people in the UK and Eire.
TALLternative Retail Facebook Group – a private Facebook group for finding and locating clothing and footwear that proportionally fit the taller women.
For those who believe 'good clothes' should live long, Vinted is a one-stop destination to an emporium of lovely second-hand garments. The clothes span countries and continents and apparently is home to lots of elegant items for people with long arms and legs!
Supporter Ruth shares that "My tip for ladies looking for maxi skirts - buy bandeau style strapless dresses! The stretchy bandeau bit does wonders for flattening a mum tum too! I get mine from charity shops, they end up the perfect length for floor length maxi skirts"