Simple Wardrobe: No Partial Lengths

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Simple Wardrobe: No Partial Lengths

Simple wardrobe

The idea behind my search for the minimal, basic wardrobe is flexibility, simplicity, quality, ease-of-care and peace of mind. I’d also like to have items that actual flatter me (or at the very least, don’t make me look worse).

In that vein, let me urge anyone seeking wardrobe simplicity to eliminate all things with the descriptions “skinny,” “crop,” “ankle,” “cap,” and “3/4” in their descriptions. I’m going to be judgy here…and blunt… so brace yourself. Ready?

3/4 sleeves make your arms look fat and make you look like you outgrew your clothes. Ditto for the crop and ankle length things women wear these days. Seriously… they widen your backside, stump your legs and simultaneously make you look like your clothes are too tight (in the “I can’t believe I ate the whole cheesecake and outgrew my pants” way — not in any sexy or “come hither” way.) Low-slung waistlines thicken your middle and create muffin issues. Cropped or too-short tops also thicken you up.

If you don’t believe me, try on a shirt with 3/4 length sleeves and pair it with your current low-waisted cropped pants. Then have someone ELSE take a photo of you from the front, the side and (most importantly) the rear. Then dress in a long sleeve shirt and a pair of properly cut (see “bottoms” below) long slacks and repeat the photo shoot. Have a stiff drink and review your photos. Have another stiff drink and accept the truth. Have a third drink and pull all that crap out of your closet and place it in a garbage bag to take immediately to donate (but you can’t drive it there, you have already had three drinks — ask someone else to do the deed.)

If it makes you feel any better, even the thinnest models look like crap in these items. Go look at the online magazines to prove my point.


If you are wearing long sleeves and they are getting in the way, push or fold them up until you complete the task and then pull them back down. In the summer, wear short sleeves — not too short (unless you are under 25 and lift weights three times a week). Just above the elbow is the best, most flattering length for most women with too-thick or too-thin arms. Too tight sleeves look bad, too poofy looks just as bad on the average woman. Stick with styles that skim but don’t squeeze or pad — both of which add bulk to thick arms and make tiny arms look like sticks. Moderation in all things, right?

Also avoid large patterns, thick horizontal stripes and trapeze-style empire waists on all tops.


Pants should come to the waist (for those of you who have forgotten where that is, it’s the thinnest part of your midriff and is near the belly-button). They should also fall in a straight line from the fullest part of your butt cheeks to the floor. No styles that “suck up under” the cheek are good for your look.

All those “naked pants” people are wearing that leave NOTHING to the imagination aren’t flattering. If you want that look, buy body paint and plan to shave everything below the waist every morning. Those pants (spandex, legging, jegging and jeans versions) are ALL obnoxious, uncomfortable to wear, and make you look like you are prowling. “Skinny jeans” make heavy women look like balloons and make skinny women look like skeletons (often bow-legged skeletons). They are best left on models who employ photoshopping experts to do their PR.

Although I LOVE the uber-wide leg pants, they aren’t great on the figure either. They tend to add pounds if they aren’t perfectly tailored and often become safety hazards since they can become tangled as you walk (especially up and down stairs if you tend to ascend/descend quickly). Maybe you aren’t a klutz like I am, but it’s something to consider. Moderation in all things. If I can give them up, you can too.

Go Classic

Classic styles are essential for a simple wardrobe. If you like loud, funky designs, wild colors and couture cuts… you aren’t well suited to a simple wardrobe plan. Simplify your life in other ways and don’t frustrate yourself by trying to simplify your closet.

If you want to avoid ever spending another morning staring you your closet, trying to figure out what to wear, simplicity in this area will save you time and frustration. Classic cuts and colors will help.

Stay tuned… I’m working hard on my wardrobe now and am almost ready to share my final selections!


  1. Lonnie piposzar says:

    Your notes on simple wardrobe made me think you have been inside my head. I have been dressing essentially as you have recommended. I plan to wear my favorites to death. Don’t underestimate what exercise can do, though. As a woman approaching her 70’s, I can wear sleeveless tops without embarrassing myself thanks to years of weightlifting.

    • Angela Allen says:

      Good for you, Lonnie. I’m not your age, but wouldn’t DARE wear sleeveless tops — maybe I should take your lead and start pumping iron! 🙂

  2. Angela Allen says:

    I’m so glad, Leesa! I wish people would actually have photos made of themselves in their clothes. It would be the easiest way to decide, “Ugh, that’s probably not my best look.”

    We can fool ourselves when looking in a mirror — by standing straight, sucking in the belly, tucking the butt and never getting a good “rear view” (because we look thinner when we twist at the waist to view our butts in the glass).

    Cameras tell the truth. They don’t “add pounds” or make us look bad — they just make it impossible to ignore the facts. 😉

    Thanks for stopping by LivingSmall and stay tuned for more “Adventures in Simplicity!” to come!

  3. Leesa says:

    Just wanted to say you’re post inspired me on my journey to owning less. I never thought about the partial lengths before but you are so right!! No more 3/4 lengths for me…. 🙂