Fit & Alterations

For me personally, my size ranges from 12 to 16 (L to XL) depending on the garment, style and brand. But I don’t get too fussed about it. My goal is to find flattering classic styles.

Fun fact: the difference in the measurement between waist size and hip size is approximately 12”. Meaning a 24” waist will have a 36” hip, give or take. I know this because I have a 14” difference from my waist to my hips so pretty much every pair of pants I own (jeans included), and even some skirts, needs to be cinched at the waist. My sister, instead, has the opposite problem: her hip measurement is less than 12” different from her waist. See what I mean? None of us fit perfectly in to these generic sizes.

Once, a friend of mine said to me “do you get everything fixed?” and was like “yeah… it’s gotta fit right.” Bottoms that gape in the back, esp when you sit are not only uncomfortable but also it looks terrible.

The good news is that clothing brands have started to heed our complaints and many now make different cuts (i.e. curvy, slim, straight, etc.) to deal with this problem.  More good news: not every brand is the same. I find that certain brands are generally curvier while others are generally slimmer. So if I stay away from those slimmer brands, I’m good!  And this wide leg trend right now works for me personally as well, as brands that would otherwise not fit actually do. The skinny fit craze, as you can imagine, was a problem for me (same with mini skirt trends). Once you figure out which brands work best for you, finding the right fit gets so much easier.

Classy tip: just because you can squeeze into it doesn’t mean that it fits. Stretchy doesn’t mean one size fits all. Garments with stretch are still sized for a reason. I cannot count the number of times I have seen women of every shape and size wearing clothes that are far too small. Tell tale signs that a garment is too small on you:

The zipper twists. Meaning that as you walk or move the zipper moves from its centre line, be it at the back of the garment or on the side;

Your skirt rides up as you walk and you have to constantly pull it down;

You have to fidget with your outfit to keep it from exposing your under garments;

Your pants give you a “camel toe”;

Your boobs are spilling out of it (I mean, it goes without saying but I said it anyway);

The fabric shows lines like it’s pulling or stretching when you’re just standing still;

The slit in the back of your fitted skirt or dress remains open when you’re standing still.

Classy tip: avoid too much skin. Slutty and sexy are two different things. If you’re going for a mini skirt, cover up the chest, shoulders and arms. And vice versa: if you’re going with a plunging neckline or open back, cover up the legs. And the older you get, the more important this rule becomes. Remember when we were teenagers and we’d leave the house in nearly nothing, just to remove more when dad wasn’t looking? Yeah that’s not us anymore. Even if you have a rockin’ bod… If you want to show it off, opt for something form fitting. Note on miniskirts: a good rule of thumb for hem length is the point where your finger tips touch your thigh when you hold your arms straight down by your sides.

Classy tip: find a good alterations place or person. Preferably someone who can help you understand the structure of the garment and what can and cannot be altered and at what cost (i.e. the local dry cleaner might not be the best option). I have a few classically trained older Italian women who work from their homes – those are usually the best. Clothes that are made well are more difficult and expensive to alter because of the work involved in undoing it and putting it back together in the same manner. Over the years, I have come to learn a lot about how clothes are constructed and deconstructed. It also helps that my mother knows how to sew and can provide great advice.

Random side story: when my best friend was getting married, we had our dresses custom made so each of us could select our own preferred style. The seamstress that made our dresses actually called my friend to complain that I was too picky. I guess she wasn’t expecting me to know so much about proper fit, and I was making her job harder.

Note about body type & fit: I’m a curvy woman so I prefer clothes with good structure; meaning, there are lots of seams and darts to create curves on the garment where they are needed. Seams and darts on the garment also make it easier to alter (usually) because there is a starting place versus creating a seam out of nowhere. This is not necessarily the case for someone who is less curvy and/or very slender. Less structure may actually create the illusion of curves for someone with that body type.