• Sarah Merrell

Finding an Off-the-Shelf Suit that Fits

Updated: Jun 8, 2019

Men and women can be equally fast and skilled as riders, but when it comes to our figures, women have a lot more to take into consideration. We have boobs, we have waists and we have hips--that often lead to more curves than our male counterparts. Because of this, finding off-the-shelf leather suits that fit is an ongoing nightmare for women and I see women complaining about it quite a bit. (And I have to admit, I've been one of those whiners myself). The struggle is real. Although custom suits take a lot of the headache away, there are still ways to find the right fit in off-the-shelf suits.

Let me start by saying I've made mistakes over the years when purchasing suits, so hopefully you can learn from some of mine:

Don't Go By Price Alone

I was young and strapped for money when buying my first suit, so I purchased the least expensive women's leather suit that I could find. I nabbed a Teknic suit for around $250--brand new. Well, you get what you pay for. Without even ever falling down on the bike, or the leathers hitting the ground, the zippers on the calves broke and the stitching started coming apart. It also lacked the internal armor that many other better-made suit manufacturers have. I didn't keep it for very long. In addition to the lack of quality, it was too short in the torso for me and I found the waist band of the two-piece suit to be too tight and uncomfortable while the rest of the suit was way too big.

If You Can, Try On Other Women's Suits

If you're able to try on someone else's suit to see how it fits, then that can really help. I'm always happy to let other girls try my suits on, and it's helped them find the right size. Unfortunately, you may not have someone's suit you can try. I didn't, which means you can either reach out to women riders who are a similar size and ask what size their suit is, or, it leads me to the next tip...

Take Your Measurements

After my faux pas with buying my first suit, I decided to take my measurements and just call a retailer that carries a lot of styles of suit and buy the one that best fits my measurements. I ended up selecting an Alpinestars one-piece suit. After finding the two-piece suit to be uncomfortable, I liked how the one-piece didn't pinch me in the waist. And I found the Alpinestars suit to be much better quality than Teknic. I loved that Alpinestars suit I bought and I had for a long time--until years of pit bike racing did a number on it.

Better Snug Than Too Big

When I went to buy my next new suit, I had gained a little weight and thought I might be more comfortable going up a size. That was a mistake, and I should have known as soon as I tried the suit on--because it fit just right with a little extra room in some areas. Well, keep in mind that leather stretches. So after wearing it for a month it was too big. I could grab handfuls of excess leather in the stomach area, thighs and butt of the leathers. The worst part I discovered, is that if you buy leathers that are too big, they won't protect you the same because the armor can rotate or move. I found this out the hard way. During a pit bike race I went flying in the air when I was hit by another bike and slammed my elbow when I hit the ground. Because my leathers were also too big in the arms, the armor rotated and didn't protect my elbow. It swelled up to the size of a soft ball and took a month to heal. It looked like zombie elbow it was so bruised and swollen. If I had been on my sportbike, I definitely would have broken that elbow.

So that lead to me to going back down a size, but...

Leather Conditioner Helps...and Water

My newest set of leathers, the ones I wear most of time now, are pretty great. They're tight and I'm still trying to get them loosened up (plus I gained some weight recently I'm working on losing). Leather conditioner really helps loosen them up, so I've been trying to condition them from time to time. Right now, they're over due for it. And yes, getting them wet helps loosen them too. But be careful: When you get leather wet it dries them out, so be sure to condition them after. I use Lexol leather conditioner. You can get it at Walmart.

Off-the-Shelf Leather Manufacturers Don't Make Them for "Busty" People

Yes, I do love my Alpinestars leathers, but I have the same complaint most "busty" women (who aren't in custom leathers) have. They're too tight in the boobs. And it's not just Alpinestars. Off-the-shelf Dianese and Held are tight for well-endowed women too. But maybe someday, if I ever get fast enough, Alpinestars will gift me with a custom women's suit that fits my boobs (hey Alpinestars, I'm talking to you). LOL. So far, I have not found an off-the-shelf leather suit manufacturer that gives us ladies more room in that area, so if your boobs are bigger than a DD, you'll probably have to go custom.

If you want more tips on leather suits, or want to know what size I wear--to get an idea of what size you need--feel free to message me on social media or email me at I'm always happy to share advice that may help other women riders. And hopefully you won't make the same mistakes I made!

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