How do you wear skinny jeans if you’re a girl with big thighs? Whenever I try a pair on, I feel self-conscious, but I’m looking for some way to pull them off since I think it’s a really cute cut. I’d love any ideas you might have! —Charlotte, 17, Maine

Just because they’re called “skinny jeans” doesn’t mean we sistaboos with sexy, thick-ass thighs aren’t allowed to wear them! I usually wear only dresses and skirts, but I recently took a trip to Iceland and needed to add some bottoms to my wardrobe, since tights and leggings weren’t cut it against the chilly weather. What I found is key when picking out tight-fitting jeans is STRETCH. I ended up buying some jeggings from the Kardashian sisters’ Sears line. They were inexpensive, and they fit great! I’ve also heard good things about Levi’s Demi Curve, which are regular jeans rather than jeggings, and come in a variety of colors. (These ones, IMO, are especially cute.) ASOS Curve also makes some nice skinny jeans: This pair is cool, and I’m OBSESSED with these acid-washed jeans! Finally, there’s this pair from H&M, which comes in a huge range of sizes and lengths.

No matter what size and shape you are, jeans can be a kind of Goldilocks situation: You’re trying to find the ones that are juuuust right! So don’t be afraid to try a bunch on, or to order a few brands and styles online and return the ones that don’t work out. And when you find the perfect jeans, you might want to buy an extra pair—or get a few, in multiple colors/washes!

Clockwise from top left:

Clockwise from top left: Wild Heart ’70s Football Tee, $46, Idylwildwoods; You’re Kitten Me Sweater, $86, Hello Holiday; peplum top, $20, H&M; Frisky Disco Sequin Top, $78, Nasty Gal; lace duster cardigan, $27, Charlotte Russe; peplum tee, $15, H&M.

Jeans are obviously made to go with just about anything, but I’m throwing in some ideas for cute tops to wear with your new skinnies anyway. Hope this helps, love! —Marie
I am 6′2″, and it’s impossible to find stores that sell stylish clothes that fit me. There are “big and tall” stores for men, but I guess people forgot that those men can have daughters. The tall-girl clothes available to me are always somewhat boring, and I want clothes that help me express myself. Is there some resource I’m missing out on, or should I just take up sewing and become the very first winner of Project Runway: Big and Tall Edition? —Emily, 19, Connecticut

I’m pushing 5′11″, with long arms and gigantic feet, so I understand your plight, Emily. I know that a lot of the clothes aimed at women like us can be boring, but I’m what you’d call an “expressive dresser” (to me, every single day is Halloween), and I’ve found a few creative tricks over the years that might work for you, too.

Weird proportions are everything. Abandon the traditional rules of what is and isn’t “flattering” (a totally useless word, IMHO) in favor of what’s striking or, dare I say, alarming. If the pants you love are too short, wear them with super-tall combat boots and an oversize shirt. Try a blazer with giant shoulders over tiny shorts. Maxi dresses that barely graze your ankle can be belted and pulled up to become tunics or chopped into minidresses.

This brings me to my core belief: Thrift stores are your best friends. Many are organized by color and garment type instead of size, so it might take some digging to find what you’re looking for. Go when you have plenty of time to browse, and try on everything that seems even remotely cool. If you keep an open mind, you’ll end up surprising yourself and falling in love over and over again!

The guys’ sections of thrift stores rule, too. Men’s dress shirts and sweaters are cut longer in the sleeves and body. And what better place to score “boyfriend jeans” than from (presumably) an actual boy that you *don’t even have to interact with*? It’s a win-win!

When it comes to “fast fashion” aimed at young women—e.g., the clothing in stores like Forever 21—everything is always far, far too short for me. Occasionally, I find a dress that works with opaque tights or leggings, but if I don’t want to style it like that, no dice. I steer clear of fast fashion stores for everything other than accessories.

Speaking of accessories, one thing boring tall-person clothes have going for them is that they make an excellent canvas for extravagant extras. Pile on jewelry, wear an elaborate antique hat, fantastic shoes, or the coolest makeup EVER—hell, the most boring black dress in the world will still stand out if your hair is banana-yellow or neon green!

Even though I know you were joking, learning to sew is actually a wonderful idea! Knowing how to sew means you can buy the longest trousers in the store and hem them to exactly the length you want (and too-short jeans can become skirts or shorts). If you find an oxford you love, but the sleeves are too short, you can easily turn it into a tank. A shrunken T-shirt can be patched onto the back of a jacket, a sweater that’s too short can be turned into a cowl or leg warmers—if you can dream it, you can do it! (And your wallet will thank you during prom season, should you decide to make a dress at home!) —Meredith
I love designing outfits and constantly have ideas for clothes I want to make, but I’m in high school and 100 percent broke. I want to start sewing my own clothes, but I have no idea where to start. What are some introductory things that will help me get going? —Clara, 15, Urbana, IL

Am I having déjà vu? This is pretty much exactly how I started out making my own clothes. Like you, I didn’t have an expendable budget, but that didn’t stop me from having the outfits I truly lurrrrrvvved and coveted, and it shouldn’t stop you either!

Sewing clothing is not as daunting as it seems, I promise. While the idea of patterns and seam and darts may make your head spin now, learning how to make your own clothes is the same as learning how to do anything else. You just have to start, and everything else will come as you keep at it!

Of course, even the most prestigious designers have to learn the basics before embarking on any crafting journey. Here are a few things I wish I’d known about sewing when I started out:

  • Measure everything. Seriously, even the things you didn’t think you’d ever put a tape measure to, like the length from your elbows to your armpits, or the widths of your ankles. Record all your measurements in a notebook or a sticky so you can refer to them easily when you want to add something to your wardrobe. Many sewing patterns use very specific measurements, so having yours on hand is really helpful.
  • Prewash your fabric before you cut or sew anything! If you don’t do this, your beautifully crafted jumper could become a toddler’s onesie with a single wash.
  • Sew slowly to keep your stitches straight. This is a purely aesthetic tip, but when you take extra care as you sew, not only do you lessen the risk of messing up an outfit, but you also stitch really nice seams, so whatever you’re making will fit nicer!
  • Iron your hems. (A hem is wherever the fabric ends—like the cuffs on shirt sleeves or pants, or the bottom edge of a skirt.) There are many ways to sew a hem, depending on what you’re making, but they all tend to look best when you iron them nice and flat.
  • Learn the basics of darts. Darts can be a little tricky, but they’re an essential part of clothing construction. They give a flat piece of fabric three-dimensionality, so it fits a 3D human body better. I suggest starting out practicing darts on a skirt to get the hang of them, since darts on skirts tend to be the easiest to do. Craftsy and Colleterie have very helpful and visual description of various types of darts, and could be good references for you.
  • Read patterns carefully. Many times, I’ve accidentally cut out a part of a pattern that was supposed to be a dart, or sewn over what was meant to be a sleeve, because I was rushing to get a finished product. Sewing clothing takes time, but if you really invest yourself and read all the directions in a pattern, you’ll end up with something you are really proud of. (While you don’t necessarily have to buy commercial patterns, in my experience they’re worth the money. They tend to be more reliable than patterns on blogs and such, and there are tons of cute patterns for sale in stores and online. Two sources I return to again and again, both to buy patterns and just to find inspiration, are Simplicity Creative Group and Colette Patterns.

If you need any extra inspiration, just watch this video:

I’m very excited to see what you come up with! —Lucy
I need a new suitcase. I’d love a vintage one, but it has to be relatively practical and be able to hold enough clothes for a week. Ideally, I’d like something like Suzy’s in Moonrise Kingdom, but with wheels so I can pull it around. Any ideas? —Mim, 13, London

There are actually vintage suitcases similar to Suzy’s, but with wheels! My dad has one—it has a pull handle on the side, like this one from Etsy. (Here’s another one, in blue.)

The only trouble with vintage wheeled luggage is that sometimes the action on those wheels isn’t the smoothest. Be sure, if you’re ordering one online, that you can return it for a full refund if the wheels are sluggish or wonky in any way. And maybe consider getting a cute, new but vintage-style suitcase. I have two rolling suitcases I love: one black-and-white polka-dot one, and one very cute leopard-print situation from Betsey Johnson. It’s harder to find the Betsey Johnson ones (aside from eBay, which has options like this one), but you may have some luck at discounted shops like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, or Ross. And hey! How about this cotton-candy-pink spotted one that looks like a vintage trunk? (OK, I might want that one myself!) Or this patterned set of three?

If you end up going with a modern piece, you can always get a vintage carrying case for your smaller items. How cute is this vanity case? Here are various options of all these kinds:

Clockwise from top left:

Clockwise from top left: chest suitcase, $118, eBags; floral suitcase, $160, Overstock; Pan Am wheeled suitcase, $83.50, Brookstone; plaid suitcase, $150, eBags.

You’ve got a lot to choose from here, girl! —Marie ♦
Got sartorial situations that you could use a little help with? We bet you look aces, but Marie and her Klothez Kadetz (this would be the world’s worst band name) are happy to answer your style questions! Just email [email protected], and be sure to include your NAME (or nickname), AGE, and CITY.