Y is for Young Clothes

When I was a junior in high school, the incoming freshmen thought I was a teacher. I was not yet 14, but wore dresses (or skirts), jackets, and real shoes everyday. I carried a real purse and a structured book bag, wore makeup, and carried myself as if I were an adult. (Sometimes, I’d have lunch in San Francisco with a friend in college, order a glass of wine, and not even be carded.) I felt so grown up in my adult outfits and wanted nothing to do with young clothes. When a freshman was surprised to see me in a student activity, I felt uncomfortable and began wearing jeans … Read more…

X is for XXL (& Other Plus Sizing Headaches)

Kristin and Sheridan are two intrepid, young women who wear plus sizes. They ordered clothing online and revealed the disappointing results on BuzzFeed, even mimicking the model’s poses. Their comments are hilarious and their experiences showcase many plus sizing headaches. I highly recommend the piece. This series of photos comparing trousers on a model to the way they really look is a perfect example of what all woman face. But women who wear plus sizes can expect additional plus sizing headaches:   These fit the model but they don’t fit Kristin or Sheridan. That’s not surprising because “plus size” models are significantly smaller than most women who wear plus sizes. … Read more…

U is for Unmentionables: Underpants

Nearly every woman wears underpants*. Yet many of us behave as if they are (or should be) unmentionables. While underpants are only for the wearer’s eyes and for those very few to whom she chooses to reveal them, there are underpants issues worth mentioning. (Bras and other undergarments too, but those are different posts.) Lingerie affects a woman’s mood. A new bra and pants feel wonderful. Lingerie, including underpants, also affect the look of a woman’s clothing. If they’re visible either because of fit or because the colour or pattern can be seen through our clothing, then we might as well put our underpants on view for all to see. … Read more…

Q is for Quality: Educational Shopping

Quality is the intersection between personal style and design, craftsmanship, materials, fit, and appropriateness. A garment may be well-made, beautifully designed, of exquisite materials but it’s not quality for the woman it doesn’t fit, if it’s inappropriate for the occasion, or doesn’t suit her style. Most of us don’t recognize quality. But we can learn. Learning to recognize quality requires effort, patience, and the willingness to step outside our comfort zones. Money is not required. Too often we waste money on badly designed, ill-fitting garments, of poor workmanship that are inappropriate for the particular use we envision. When we go for quality, we save money and dressing becomes much easier. … Read more…

O is for Outfits For Different Body Shapes

N is for No Standard Sizes Or Body Shapes shows five women between 5’2″ to 6’1″ tall. Each weighs 154 lbs and has a different body shape. Wouldn’t it be cool to see women with bodies like these in a couple of real outfits? We don’t have their measurements so first it’s necessary to make some assumptions. Unfortunately, the 5’2″ woman is not wearing a supportive bra so it’s difficult to see if she has an hourglass shape. Since she has narrow shoulders, let’s presume she has a petite (at least on top) pear body shape. (A properly fitted bra can make a huge difference in body shape.) The 5’4″ woman … Read more…

N is for No Standard Sizes or Body Shapes

Each of these women weighs 154 lbs. (That’s about the same weight Marilyn Monroe was at her heaviest.) They are neither under nor over weight. They do not appear to be either super athletic or out of shape. They each have a different body shape. When shopping, each of these women will find clothing that fits and clothing that doesn’t. Several of them will need to alter some or all of their garments (or pay someone to do the job). Do note, the 5’2″ woman wears a smaller size than the 5’4″ woman. Since size depends on garment design and manufacturer, the 5’2″ woman will sometimes be able to wear … Read more…

K is for Knits – How Tight Is Too Tight?

Knits! We wear them because they’re easily washed and don’t require ironing. And, for many of women, it’s easier to find knit pieces that “fit.” Except when they don’t. Lest we begin to judge our bodies as deficient, we need to understand, our bodies are not at fault. Our bodies are fine! Women with slender, average, and heavy builds struggle with the same issues when wearing knits: Knits lie to us, especially those that contain lycra. They encourage us to believe that if we can get our body into a garment, it must fit. Knits allow us to buy our “size.” We say to ourselves, ‘Buttons, zippers, and fasteners close … Read more…

I is for I Know My Body Shape (I Think)

Remember those measurements in Determining Your Body Shape, Part 1? Let’s take a look at what they mean. (I prefer body shapes to body types because shapes: triangle, hourglass, diamond, are often used to describe what our measurements mean.) When I was learning pattern making, there were specific formulas for each body shape. The first three are industry designations that account for height.: Tall: 5’8′ and above. Tall women may have athletic, hourglass, inverted triangle, etc. builds. Tall reflects height and often, a longer distance between shoulder and waist and longer legs. Some garments are specifically cut for tall women. Some clothing brands don’t fit terribly well. (At 5’8″, I … Read more…

H is for How Big Should My Wardrobe Be?

“I have nothing to wear!” Many of us feel that way and many of us decide to go shopping. So we have overstuffed closets and bureaus. But most of us only wear 10 to 20% of the clothes we own. Our closets may be neat or cluttered but most of us own more clothing than we actually wear. Even so, “I have nothing to wear” is a common complaint. Our unworn clothing often doesn’t fit. It’s either too small, too big, or just off. Or we wear something once and decide, it’s not as great as it was in the shop. It’s too fancy, too casual, too nous ne savons … Read more…

G is for Great Fit, A Working Definition

Great fit deserves many posts (and books and some draping/pattern making classes). Great fit involves personal style, comfort, body shape, quality, cut, fabric, properly fitted lingerie (a huge topic), and many other factors. It also includes things we can’t see when we try on clothes in a shop. A few years ago, a new Armani Exchange tee felt weird after I washed it and lay it flat to air dry. (I never put my clothing in the dryer.) I tugged and pulled but it still felt weird. When I removed it, I discovered the side seams were twisting, one towards the back, one towards the front. The manufacturer had cut … Read more…