I’ve been preaching that looking your best means making best friends with your tailor, but how do you know when to take in your clothes? This part is easy! There are certain points and seams to check on your clothes when looking in those awful three-way mirrors in the dressing room.
If you are not the size of the usual fit model, I feel you. At 5’1″ with broad shoulders, muscular thighs and an over all athletic build, I can’t say that I’m even close to the ‘average’ size. Let me assure you that it will be okay. I’ve been working hard to share with you the styles that will look and fit best on your body type, so you’ll have a better starting point; that’s half the battle. When I figured out what styles are better for my body type, I started to feel like my body isn’t so abnormal. I read recently that the average woman tries on 15 pairs of jeans before settling on one. This is unsettling to me. I hope my website brings you better luck.
Let’s start from the top…
A well fitting blazer starts at the shoulders. Shoulder seams on all garments should rest right on the knobby bone of your shoulder. If the seam rests past your shoulder bone on the muscle, your garment will look oversized and swallow you. If the seam sits closer to your neck, well nobody looks flattering rocking the ‘fat guy in a little coat’ look. I can joke about that, because with broad shoulders myself, the struggle is real.
Sleeve lengths is a personal preference. Often the goal of a well-fitting sleeve is to rest one inch above the knuckles, however it is a personal choice. With short arms, I always think sleeves look too long, so I prefer to go a little shorter. The photo above is a jacket I have not yet altered. You can imagine if I rested my arms to my sides how long these sleeves would appear. It happens!
For overall fit, try crossing your arms in the dressing room. If you can’t, there’s a good chance your jacket is too tight. A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t steer your car or hug your man, your jacket is too tight. I recommend throwing on your new digs for the ride home. If you can’t comfortably drive home, you might be better off turning around to return your jacket.
Many of the same principles apply to dress shirts as blazers. The overall look and fit should be relaxed. Seams should lie flat. If you’re busty or round at the midsection, you may find that buttons pull tight or the fabric between them puckers; this is an indication that you need to size up. If you’re having a really hard time with a particular item fitting, try switching to another brand. It’s not your problem if going up one size goes from super tight to extra baggy; it’s a problem with the fit of the brand.
Sleeves should reach just a bit longer on the hand than blazer sleeves. Your cuffs should peek out just a little.
Another fit issue women commonly have with dress shirts is ‘the sweep’ as it’s called within the fashion industry. The sweep is the circumference of the bottom of a shirt, jacket, skirt or dress. With dress shirts, the sweep becomes an issue when it is too tight around the hips. There is nothing flattering about a top that is well-fitting until the eye reaches the hips and the shirt is pulled tightly and buttons are puckering away.
I can’t say enough that it is ever so important to try different brands. Each brand has its own fit. It’s usually a better idea to go snug over loose as well. Most jeans on the market today are made with Lycra or Spandex and have a degree of stretch. Different fabrics (with varying composition of Lycra and construction techniques) have different recovery values as well. Recovery refers to the ability of a fabric to return to it’s original shape after being stretched.
You know what I mean; we’ve all had saggy butt by the end of the day in a bad pair of pants.
If you’ve found a pair of jeans that works for you throughout the hips and thighs, the length is easy to fix!
You should be able to comfortably fit two fingers in the waistline of your dress pants. This waist fit test ensures your waist fit is chic, but will also allow for those not so chic feeling bloated days. We all have them.
If there’s gathering or puckering in the front panel, your pants may be too tight. If there’s billowing in the front panel, often when you sit, your pants are probably too big.
I remember watching an episode of project runway and Michael Kors while critiquing unflattering pockets and saying, “I don’t know any woman who even keeps the pockets in their pants!” -or something like that. It struck me because I had never thought about, or admittedly have done since then, removing the pockets. Removing the pockets is a pretty easy task for any tailor and your pants will fit more smoothly in the front. Think about stitching them down and removing the lining; there will be less bulk in the front of your pants.
I ended up going a size down in these pants when I ordered them in white.
The pants are a little snug and I might benefit from removing the linings of the pockets, but ignoring that and the obvious wrinkle from packing them in a suitcase, the size down was the right move.
I hope this helps you with your next shopping trip!