Until I was about 12 years-old, I never considered being taller than everyone else around me an issue. My elementary school “boyfriends” (this meant never talking to each other), were always at least a head shorter than I was, and in grade six, I had one “boyfriend” stand on the side of a sandbox so that he could kiss my cheek. I was cool with this.
But then Jr. High came around and I started to despise the fact that I was always made to stand in the middle, back row for all class photos. I would lean up and slouch against the lockers so that I could join the conversations about—oh, the most important things in the world—with all my pretty little BFF’s.
Basketball became my everything (yes, I was that stereotypically tall), and a place where my height was celebrated. I also had such an advantage over my peers that I could score 40 points a game from my own rebounds and literally miss half the shots I took.
I got better at playing basketball and being tall over the years, and became best friends with two other girls from my high school team who were just as tall as I was (pictured above–and yes, I have cornrows). Today, we stand at 5’11”, 6’0”, and just under 6’1” (that’s me). My boyfriend, a swimmer, who I met at an organized athlete’s night while I was playing on the University of Alberta Pandas basketball team, is a shining 6’5”. We joke that you have to be tall to hang out with us, but, really, on some level (ha!) it would appear that you have to be tall to hang out with us. Even within my social/environmental situations (ie. my basketball team), I naturally migrated to others who identified with all the “issues” (as well as the pros, of course) that come with being tall—from street stares and irksome comments, to low basement ceilings, short beds, cramped airplane seats, and the most prominent Tall Issue of All: shopping.
Let me clarify: I have lots of short and medium-sized friends, and my sisters and mom are between 5’4” and 5’6” (because you’re now curious, my dad is 6’4″). Height actually has little to do with whom I choose to spend my time with. But when you have a common issue (be it fit, or otherwise) with others, you feel connected to them. Tall women of the world, I FEEL YOUR SHOPPING PAIN AND I FEEL CONNECTED TO YOU!
My fashion choices have suffered over the years because of the limited number of brands that accommodate bigger, longer, narrower etc. sizes outside the average. I’ve been shopping for tall women’s clothing at a store called Tall Crest/Tall Girl, now known as Long Tall Sally (which, to be honest, sounds like a schoolyard taunt, but let’s not bite the hand that feeds) since I was about 13 years old. I need jeans that fit a 36” leg. I need coats, shirts, jackets, that will accommodate long arms. Now, at 26 years old, I need shoes that will fit a size 12.5 AA (very narrow). Up until a few months ago, I thought I wore a size 12, but since entering the world of bespoke boots and custom shoes at Poppy Barley, I’ve discovered my real shoe size (prepare to be enlightened!).
Tall boots for tall women are even harder to find than large shoe sizes because getting the boot height to reach your knees is nearly impossible. When Poppy Barley founders Kendall & Justine Barber asked me to be a part of their Poppy Barley Boot Fit Workshop in June 2012, I was thrilled. Tall boots for Tall Women (a term all its own)! Tall boots for short women! Tall boots for all women! I couldn’t wait to get started.
The beauty of made to measure is that YOU get to decide just how TALL your tall boots go (Poppy Barley takes a total of eight measurements for the perfect fit). I received my Tall Boots for Tall Women in October, and they fit perfectly, reaching just below my knee, hugging my calf snuggly and elegantly, and elongating the look of my legs. In fact, my Poppy Barley boots made me realize just how narrow my feet are. Pictured below, right: off-the-rack Tall Boots for Tall Women on one foot vs. Poppy Barley’s Tall Boots for Tall Women on the other foot. The difference is drastic. My narrow feet rejoiced (because large feet does not necessarily = wide feet), and I begged Kendall and Justine to hire me.
When designing my first pair of Poppy Barleys (and my first real pair of Tall Boots for Tall Women), I chose The Classic Riding Boot in Essential Black with a Silver Half-moon Buckle (pictured above, left). This comes as no surprise because the trend we’re seeing from our Poppy Barley customers is that those who need extreme sizes, widths, etc. like I do, tend to order classic styles that can be worn everyday and everywhere you want to go (below, left, I’m wearing my PB’s out at a party for Edmonton designers Amor and SUKA, and out in the snow for a weekend getaway at Jasper Park Lodge).
When Kendall asked me what the most frustrating part about “shopping for tall” was, my answer was quite simple: growing up tall means there’s a spotlight on you, and you have nowhere to hide. As conformist as it sounds, I just wanted to fit in, be it into trendy clothes or in with my classmates. I was envious of all my “pretty little BFF’s” (I say this with great affection) and my sisters, because it seemed that they could wear whatever they wanted when it came to fashion. Their selection of styles and colours–in shoes and boots in particular–was always something I wanted, but something I could never have.
Why I believe in this company, is because they’ve made it possible for me to get exactly what I want, and accommodate sizes that are outside the “normal”. This is deeply personal for me. My height has played a huge role in forming my identity. Poppy Barley Made to Measure isn’t just innovative. For me, it’s revolutionary. For a tall woman who came to work in fashion, made to measure boots have never been a better fit.
-Caroline, Community Manager
A few fun links for Tall Women:
- TALL CLOTHING: J.Crew (thank you, Jenna Lyons!), Anne Taylor, and Topshop carry Tall Collections, mostly online. Of course, the best person to talk to about shopping for tall women’s clothing, and clothing for all shapes and sizes, is Oprah.
- TALL BLOG: Meet Alicia Jay, the stunning 6’6″ fashion blogger from TallSwag.com.
- TALL BOOK: The Tall Book, by Arianne Cohen, 6’3″, argues that tall people are statistically smarter, more successful in their careers and therefore financially, and live longer than short people. Make you feel good, tall women of the world? Hear more about her argument here.