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…

J is for Judging Our Bodies

Did you know that Marilyn Monroe’s weight varied from 115 lbs to 150 lbs? (Many women experience 35 – 40 lb weight swings.) At about 5’5″ tall, she would have worn the equivalent of a modern size 8 to 12. But, because she was a D cup, even at her lowest weight, many off the rack tops and dresses would not have fit. Some charts give her measurements as bust: 37, waist: 23, hips: 36. But her bra size, 36D, means her actual bust measurement was 39″, that’s 4″ wider than her hips. (That falls into the inverted triangle range. Horrors! Didn’t she have a perfect hourglass figure?) Most of … 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…

F is for Fit Not Size

The fit of a garment is more than ease. Ease allows a woman to move comfortably in her clothes without looking as if she’s a little girl who has been playing in mother’s closet. Ease is part of fit, but fit is so much more. We’ve all seen girls with muffin tops above their jeans. Sometimes, the jeans are too small: Sometimes, the fit is okay everywhere except at the waist: Some of us (me!) suffer from muffin tops in front and sides even when there’s a big gap in the back. Most women believe they are a particular size. In fact, Wikipedia will tell you standard sizes fit[] most … Read more…

E is for Ease

When I was a child, I was rarely taken shopping for clothes and learned almost nothing from the family I lived with about choosing clothing that fit. I did learn to sew. But for years, I’d choose a pattern, buy beautiful fabric, expertly sew and press only to try on a finished garment that was too tight and squeezed in odd puckers (mostly) around my hips. It made no sense. I always chose patterns based on my measurements and then measured the pattern pieces at the bust, waist and hips. They ought to have fit. Finally, I learned to draft patterns and discovered EASE. EASE is extra space the designer … Read more…

D is for Determining Your Body Shape, Part 1

To determine your body shape, you will need to take certain measurements. In part 1, you’ll learn where and how to measure yourself. In part 2, you’ll learn what the measurements mean. You’ll need: a mirror (full-length or big enough to see your entire torso), a cloth tape measure, a ruler, a ribbon or soft belt to tie around your waist, post-it flags or small, removable stickers, paper, and a writing instrument. Wear your regular bra and pants. A close fitting leotard or bathing suit may be worn over your underwear. Stand up straight but not stiff. Relax your shoulders by raising them and letting them drop. The dropped position … Read more…

C is for Cami

It’s Spring! Deep V’s and sheer tops in affordable (and often more wearable) versions of haute couture runway looks are everywhere. It’s a fresh look. They’re also retro: sheer clothing has been worn since the 18th century. But often a deep V reveals too much…   …and sheer is too bare. A few pretty camis in different weights let any woman participate in a trend without exposing too much. And there are so many camis from which to choose (and even more options for the woman who sews). Camis come in many different woven and knit fabrics – from silk to cotton to synthetics – and a variety of cuts. … Read more…

B is for Body Type

Until about 1917, most women wore corsets. The US War Industries Board asked women to stop buying them in 1917. America then had 28,000 tons of metal to help fight WWI. Women began wearing bras and girdles. Until about sixty years ago, most women wore girdles or panty girdles as part of their basic underclothing. Then pantyhose* was invented and girdles were pretty much consigned to the trash bin. But, control top hosiery, depending on the level of control, fulfills the same function as a corset or girdle. All exist to reshape our bodies so we can wear particular fashions. Nearly every woman has one of the eight general body … Read more…