The Law of The Long Arm

Today I spent an hour wandering around a shopping mall trying to find a jacket to wear while hiking or walking in the local parks this spring. I have coats for -40 C and for -10 C. I also have jackets for +10c and beyond but I need something for in-between. It should be a jacket that will be good when it is raining but also when it is freezing.

it should also have pockets. Pockets for a cell phone, tissues, my car keys, a small bottle of water, and maybe even a camera lens. Ideally, it would also have a hood and a full front zipper. Yes, I am asking a lot. But, sadly, I am asking too much of the stores in my local mall.

I was willing to compromise, though. I would adjust my wish list for pockets if I could find a jacket that fit me, but sadly even a jacket with only two regular hip pockets did not fill the bill. The arms were too long. They usually are.

When I am buying shirts, sweaters, and blouses, I have found it is most helpful to buy them with three-quarter sleeves or to shop only at stores that cater to the petite. In women’s clothing “petite” does not mean small. It recognizes that we are not all necessarily built like twelve-year-olds. Some of us are generously proportioned and yet still petite. “Petite” simply means we have short arms and/or legs.

The trouble is, jackets are not made with three-quarter sleeves. Worse, they aren’t even made with wrist-length sleeves for the average person. They are made for some imaginary people who have arms like Sasquatch. Even the mannequins in the stores have to push up the sleeves. I am not kidding! Go take a look.

After I got home I went online to see if I could find the jacket of my dreams but all I found were jackets with sleeves that are too long even for models. As we all know, models are usually taller than the rest of us. If these jackets have sleeves that are uncomfortably long even for fashion models, the rest of us are just out of luck.

Out of curiosity, I checked out a few cardigans online and found that the situation there is even worse. The cardigan-makers of the world think we all have arms that reach down to our knees. If this is a trend, I hope it ends soon. If it is a perceptual error, will someone please let them know? It is not only ridiculous, it is a waste of good yarn.

Then I thought that perhaps I was being too frugal and that I should check out the higher-priced jackets. So, I switched off my stingy switch and broadened my purchasing horizons. Online I found some lovely jackets that checked all my boxes for pockets, hoods, and zippers, even though I winced at some of the prices that ranged from $300 to $500 Cdn. I took a deep breath and seriously thought about buying one, until I looked at the sleeves. They were all too long, even on tall skinny models. None of them offered a petite version. Not one.

By the way, I looked at one expensive jacket that was called a shell. My first thought was that they used the wrong vowel; it should have been called a shill.

Now I’m wondering if there are tailors who make jackets for non-standard sized hikers or tailors who know how to adjust off-the-rack jackets to fit us. That will be my next plan. Don’t hold your breath, though. I don’t shop very often. Probably for this reason.


  1. Confession: I have the long arms of Sasquatch so am delighted when I see the sleeves covering the models’ hands. Here’s a thought for you though: buy the coat that has everything you need except the sleeves being too long. Then take it to a professional seamstress who alters clothing.

      1. I hope that works! I forgot to say that I get the need for different coats for different temperatures. And the water-resistant feature as well. Being a year round outdoor walker has resulted in quite the queue of coats in my closet. And lined pants for our feisty plains winds. That’s been an amazing addition to my outdoor gear.

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