Stand Up Straight. No, Straighter

In my last post on clothes and the body, I discussed the dropped shoulder, a very common defect. I have bad news: this is by no means the only affliction that modern life has visited upon our poor human bodies. Some large fraction of Americans suffer from back pain, according to the American Chiropractic Association, which I assume to be completely disinterested and trustworthy on this important matter. Much of this suffering is the result of poor posture. But even more importantly, poor posture will make your clothes fit awkwardly.

You probably think that you can solve this problem by standing up straight. The surprising difficulty is that what you think is straight is probably not straight.

Most people, when told to stand up straight, throw their shoulders way back. To provide a counter-balance and keep from falling over, the hips (and often the head) come forward. This makes the front of the legs longer than the back of the legs. Since ready-made pants are made with an even balance, there will be extra material on the backside, which will generally bunch up underneath your rear, like so:

Stand up straight and look in the mirror sideways and there's a good chance you'll see this on your trousers. If you rotate your pelvis until those creases go away, you will have found the proper way for your legs to fit into your hip sockets when you're standing up straight. It will probably feel like you're leaning forward.

Of course, a tower doesn't stop crumbling half-way down. Go back to your original way of standing up straight. Look down at your feet. If you're like me, you will see that your feet are turned out. And you will be surprised, because it felt like they were totally straight. But when your hips come forward, your legs rotate out to make room, and take your feet with them. Your feet will there not be aligned with the crease of the trouser as God intended.

Fixing your posture is difficult. Altering ready-to-wear trousers to accomodate it is not that much easier. You can re-position the trouser crease to align with your foot, but changing the front-back balance is fraught. I find that wearing pants with a slightly looser waist and keeping them up with suspenders mitigates the issue somewhat. But the only way to resolve it completely is with bespoke pants. Even a master tailor can't help you with the back pain though.

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