Some time ago I wrote about my issues finding tribal trousers. We all know the kind: Melodias are beautiful, but they do not come in sizes suitable for the larger ladies. I was looking at possible alternatives and found some Chinese imports that were *sort of* big enough, but had issues: the seams were ripping open, and the fabric was tissue-thin, making them really unusable for the punishment trousers receive in class.
I am happy to report that I’ve found the holy grail of Tribal Trousers for the curvier figures. A company in the UK called Birgiss Bellywear, run by a dancer, has theirs made specifically in India to their specs. I was lucky enough to snatch 3 of them during a “slight seconds” sale, at a bargain price. The “slight seconds” were really minimal: ties missing, a few spots missing on the edging… nothing I can’t sort out myself.
So how are the trousers? They are *wonderful*. The fabric is thick enough to be comfortable and doesn’t make me feel like I am advertising my bum when I go out, but has the perfect *cling*. The fabric breathes very well, so you don’t feel like you have your thighs encased in cling film and of course you avoid sweat rash caused by the seams rubbing over sweat that isn’t absorbed by the fabric, both of which have happened to me with the Chinese versions that are much more synthetic than cotton. The external side seams are French-seamed, which makes them far sturdier (and more expensive to produce, I have to add), and also flatter, avoiding the “poke” you can get with standard overlocked seams. They are quite long, so these should also be suitable for those of you with longer legs. I am 5’7″(ish) and they are a touch long on me, but just enough that I can pull them up from the knees and/or hips and they brush the floor, but a much taller friend has tried them on and found the length to be perfect for her, and she normally needs to buy clothes at specialist stores for tall ladies. The elastic is very thick and sturdy, and my *one* somewhat negative comment is that, at least for me, they come up quite high on my waist, and I’ve got a high waist already, which means that for some they might be a bit too long in the seat, but this can be folded down and sewn if needed. In fairness, I have found this high waist in most plus sized garments, and they do prevent the dreaded muffin-top, so I can understand why they are manufactured this way, and it also helps me have a fully covered bum without the usual “dip” I get at the back with most lower body garments.
I’ve also washed one of the pairs already, it has shrunk *just* enough, and I suspect it will stay like that. The bottom hems are starting to curl too, giving it more character, so I suspect I’ll keep the length uncut and let the natural curl and some judicious bunching around knees deal with the extra inch or two of length I’ve got on mine. The sizing was generous, and I do suggest you check carefully the sizing information, as I had to exchange two of them… I had ordered my street size and it turned out I needed 2 sizes smaller; these are also a bit “loose” and I could easily gain 2-3 sizes without needing a new pair, so they would be a good idea even if you tend to fluctuate in weight, or if you are loosing some of it.
Price-wise, the slight seconds were a bargain, at £22 each for the flat coloured ones, and £24 for the tie-dyes. I would happily pay full price for these, and I am waiting for them to restock the burgundy trousers in my size to order a pair of those.
The customer service was superb. As I mentioned above, I’d ordered 3 pairs in different sizes, two of which turned out to be too big. These were exchanged promptly, the vendor was very clear about everything, extremely helpful, and even went as far as to measure some other sizes for me so I could decide what size would work better for me (alas, not the burgundy ones!).
Birgiss also offers a great range of pieces for costuming, and I’ve ordered quite a few buttons and danglies for a belt I am making (hopefully soon), some wonderful skirts in several lengths and waist sizes too (got my eyes on a couple of those) and even hip belts for the larger sizes. It’s very obvious that Birgiss Bellywear is run by someone that cares about their customers as dancers first and foremost, and the selection of items is very good; I’m sure that it would be possible for a curvy lady to equip herself fully here without ONCE having to “settle” for something unflattering, unsuitable or plain ugly because it’s the only thing available for her. That, in my book, means a LOT.
And best of all? She never, ever told me “why don’t you get a galabaya…”.