Alteration Tip For A Thick Waistline

Yesterday I told you that a tailor or good alterations person could become your best friend. Today I am going to share another great idea with you. If you have a thick waistline (raising my hand!), you may find that pants will be too small in the waist if they fit your hips and legs.

Ask your alterations person to sew an inverted triangle of elastic into the back of your waistband. Look for this type of six-inch-wide knit elastic in a color close to your pants, which can be sewn into the waistline of most pants, especially jeans.

I drew a white triangle on these Levis to show you where the elastic will replace the waistline of the pants.


Wear a longer jacket or top with jeans that now fit your body comfortably, without the baggy seat and legs that do us no favors. No one will ever know your secret!

  1. Can you photograph a pair of jeans/pants that have this alteration sewn in, so that I can get an idea of how it looks in reality. Thank you

    1. I have not done this alteration to my own pants but I have seen it on other people’s pants and it worked great. I am sorry I do not have a photo to show you but I will try to find one on the net.

  2. This looks like way too much work (and I sew!). I would just keep looking until I find pants that fit. You can do it; you just have to have patience and keep trying on different pants. I have the opposite problem: the pear body. Pants are either too big in the waist or too tight in the hips/thighs. H&M has some fabulous wide band elastic waist jeans at an affordable price. They are great – it might help solve the problem for both the apple body and the pear body. Except I just read that they use child labor so I’m not sure if I’m going to continue to shop there. Ugh….

    1. Aaahhhh, trying on pants until you find a pair that fit. Those were the days. I have a disability and trying on clothes in a weensy little dressing room is out of the question. I live for hacks like Susan has given us.

  3. This is the post I’ve been waiting for! Just like Mom and Grandma, it’s the thick waistline thing that is a problem (slim hips and legs). I have 4 pair of perfectly fine no-stretch jeans that I can’t get into. I’ll now head off to those cool people who do alterations. By the way, I ordered NYDJ Sheri slim jeans with a great big discount a couple of days ago because you look so great in them.

  4. What a great idea!! For reasons I will never understand and in spite of exercising for years, there is a two to three size difference between my waist and the rest of me!!!

  5. Thank you Susan for the great tip and also for posting the how-to. For myself, I think I’d rather have the insert being elastic than denim. I look forward to your postings; they are always informative and beautiful to see.

  6. Wow – thank you for sharing this idea. Actually, this is a BRILLIANT tip also for those of us with the opposite problem!! I have a small waist with curvy hips. To get a proper fit on my hips and thighs, my jeans always gape open at the too-large waist by many inches.

    Taking-in the bulky fabric never results in a satisfactory alteration fit or comfort or “looks.” Regular alteration is also is a permanent solution, not accommodating any temporary fluctuations in my waistline due to – ermmm – Thanksgiving type indulgence…

    So, I’m going to try cutting out the excess fabric and using the elastic insert you’ve demonstrated. Can’t wait to see how it works – this is bound to be my best solution!! I never wear tucked-in tops since I’m short waisted, so waist bands are always hidden anyway and my guess is that this will sit flatter against my waist.

  7. I always have to tailor trousers, in the past I alter the side seams to bring them in enough to get a good fit but your solution is so much better, thank you !

  8. What a wonderful idea! I wish I’d thought about this or learned this a lot earlier I could have bought myself some really neat pants and jeans!

  9. Dear Susan,
    Would you happen to have directions of how to sew the elastic into the inside of the pant/jeans? Or just take a picture of a pair of your jeans, with the elastic sewn on the inside. If I see the actual sewing on the inside, I can figure out how to do it on my pants/jeans. Susan I so enjoy your I just turned 75 in August and dress in the same classic way you do. I’m only five foot tall and can no longer wear any type of heal or wedge over one inch. Really makes it hard to feel good looking. I’ll keep enjoying watching you every week and have adopted many of your makeup tips. Had a compliment from my hair dresser the second day I wore the Almay eyeliner. Isn’t that fun and it should make you feel good that I, after all these years, would change the way I do my eyes! My husband of 56 years has been fighting tongue and neck cancer since April 2016. He goes in for a resectioning of the right side of his neck, to remove all the nodes as the cancer has spread to the neck, a week from today. We have a good outlook and feel this operation will remove all the cancer! I look forward to reading about the places you and Mr Mickey travel to and the clothes you wear. So, I’m saying “Thank you” for bringing sun shine into my life at just the right time.
    Sincerely, Paula Cummins

    1. Dear Paula, I hope that your husband recovers fully. I so admire your attitude. If you visit the link here you will see a picture of how it looks being sewn into the pants. I don’t have other pictures but I never forgot what a great idea I thought my friend had when he had this done to his jeans. Kindest regards, Susan

  10. What a great tip! I will go “elasticize” my jeans that were too tight in the waist but fit in the legs. Finding pants that fit or keep their shape is sooo time consuming as well as frustrating. This could be the secret.

    Love your blog and think you get more beautiful each post!

  11. You are a genius!!! Thanks for this tip. I have always had a straight, wide waist and struggled with this issue. –Anne

  12. Susan you are such an inspiration!! I love that you share so much to us your readers. I have a hard time finding low heel shoes and you always share the brand and the store. MANY THANKS!!!

  13. Could you please also show a picture of a pair of pants that you have had altered as described in the post? That would be very helpful.

  14. Hi Susan – I need your help – I am 59 love your blog – I am going to the Bahamas for five days -help –
    I am okay with wearing a full piece bathing suit – but need ideas – help

    1. Take your favorite summer pieces that work for casual or a little dressier times. If you can mix and match them, all the better. A simple tank dress will work well layered with blouses, cardigans or scarves. Take a couple pairs of sunglasses, a wide brim hat, nice sandals and comfortable walking shoes. Have fun!

  15. That is a very good tip. Also, some pants made by Peter Nygard already has this elastic panel sewn into it.

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.