Does it fit??

Part of buying quality that’s worth the price is the fit of the garment on you.  Nothing looks cheaper than wearing somethingthat’s too big or too small.  If you’ve gained weight, acknowledge it and seek to enhance your body with clothing that
fits. Otherwise you’ll just be drawing attention to the problem.  There’s no standardized sizing in the apparel industry, with one brand you may wear a 12 and in another a 16 and in yet another a 10.  How can you figure out what size you wear?  Here’s the answer …rather than focusing on the SIZE you wear, try to fit your body. However, most people don’t know what fits them.

Clothing today has a multitude of fit categories from close fit, fitted, semi fitted to loose and very loose fitting. What do these mean when you’re trying to find a fitted shirt?  Close fit implies that the garment follows closely the curves of the body, while fitted is
slightly more relaxed.  Semi fitted has even more ease than the other two, while loose fitting indicates a garment that is generously sized with ease of movement and fabric drape.  Finally, very loose fitting is a full garment with lots of ease, and it provides the ultimate in comfort.

As well, when purchasing jeans, there are various categories to select from that
include traditional, slim, relaxed and loose.  Traditional cut is essentially true to size
while slim is cut narrower, especially in the legs and hips.  Relaxed jeans have an extra half an inch in the seat and thighs. Meanwhile, loose fit has one to four inches of ease in the butt and thighs.

When shopping and trying clothes on, be honest with yourself regarding the fit since
we are NOT a dress form. Realize that it can be a challenge to find the right fit. However, it will make a world of difference in how you look in your clothes for work and how you feel about yourself.

Here are some tips to help ensure that you have the right fit for you:

  • When buying a belt, if you have a 34 inch waist, buy a 36 inch belt.  The belt should fasten on the center hole
    with the tail ending right past the first loop on the pants.
  • Jackets,blazers and sport coats for men should cover the back side and close comfortablyin front.  Sleeves
    should land about one-half inch below the wrist bone.  The jacket should hang straight at the side and back seams and not pull.  Shoulder seams need to land about one half inch from the shoulder bone.
  • For women, jackets and blazers (depending on the style) should land straight without gapping or puckering on the sides or back.  You should be able to button it with the sleeves landing one-fourth to one-half inch below the wrist bone.  Like men, if it’s a set in the sleeve, the shoulder seam should land about one-half inch beyond the shoulder bone.
  • Men’s shirts should be able to close comfortably, allowing one finger’s worth of ease in the neck and no gapping or wrinkling there.  If wearing your shirt out, it should hang at the end of the zipper of your pants and at the pant pockets in the back. If wearing a shirt with a jacket, it should peek out about one-half inch beyond the jacket sleeve, essentially reaching the beginning of the thumb.  Make sure that the shirt hangs straight at
    the front and sides and that there is ample ease in the sleeves for the arms.
  • Women’sshirts, blouses and tops also need to hang straight at the front and sideswithout gapping and wrinkling at the neck. If it has a
    set-in sleeve, the seam should land at the shoulder bone.  The sleeve length, if long, should be about one-half inch beyond the wrist bone.  Tightness under the arms as well as through the back and front means that the top is too small.
  • Pantsshould have ample ease of one to four inches through the seat, hips, waist and thighs. If the pants are pleated, they should layflat.  If there is a crease down the front leg of the pant, it should fall straight. Regarding length, try your pants on without shoes, they should just touch the floor.
  • For men, some indications of pants that don’t fit are too much fabric in the seat,the stomach extending over the waist, pants righting on the hips or tightness in the thigh. Tightness in the rear also indicates
    that pants don’t fit.  If there is too much fabric in the seat of the pants, have the excess removed.  Pants should ride over the hip and thigh area with enough ease to allow freedom of movement. The side seam of the pant should hang straight down the side.  Finally, inseam pockets should not spread apart
    to show the lining.
  • For women, the rules for pants are about the same but with a few more considerations. Pants should have ample ease in the waist, hips and thighs.  Pants are too tight if when you close the pants, excess skin bulges out creating a “muffin top.”  There should be ample ease in the crotch so
    that the seam does not pull or in the derriere to outline your “cheeks.”  If the fabric stretches around the thighs,the pants are too small.  The side seams
    should hang straight down the side, and the pants should touch the floor when
    standing in them in your bare feet.
  • Skirts should have one to two inches of ease in the waist, hips and thighs and notpull across the belly.
    The hem of the skirt should be parallel to the floor.  Side seams should hang straight and the skirt should not ride up in the front or back.
  • Shoes should fit comfortably the first time.  Remember when you were small and the salesperson would measure your feet and press his index finger to make sure you had enough room at the front of the shoe? Those steps are just as important today. Don’t be fooled by the line that the shoes will become more comfortable as you wear them or that once you break them in they will be enjoyable to wear all day long – WRONG.  Shoes should fit comfortably the first time, every time. If your shoes don’t fit, your attitude won’t be very fitting either!
  • Tocheck the shoe size, stand with your feet spread apart, equal weight placed on each foot.  There should be an index-finger’s space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.  Make sure the widest part of your foot lines up with the widest part of the shoe. Try on shoes with the proper hosiery. If you’re trying on running shoes, wear athletic socks.  If you’re a woman trying on pumps, bring along knee-highs.  Most shoes stores have
    hosiery if you forget.  Even if you don’t plan to wear hosiery, they will aid in determining the fit of the shoe to your foot.
  • Proper length is essential.  If the pants are to be tailored, wear the shoes that you intend to wear with them.The pants should fall straight, with a
    slight break at the top of the shoe.  At the back of the pant, the hem should land at the point or slightly above where the sole and upper leather meet.  This
    results in pants that are slightly longer in the back (about three-quarters of
    an inch) than in front.  Pant hems should not touch the ground since it will destroy the fabric and your investment.  Cuffed pants should hang horizontally and be about one and one-half inch in width.
  • Skirt length extremes should be avoided. However, when determining the length, the most attractive length and one used by many designers is right around the knee.

Bottom line: Clothing that doesn’t fit draws attention to the problem.  If the item fits in one place but not another, it doesn’t fit.  If it’s
uncomfortable to sit or move freely, it’s too tight.  Realize also, however, that if your clothing is too big, this also draws the eye to the problem. Signs that clothing is too
large include pants falling off the waist, jackets and t-shirts lookingoversized, or pants dragging on the ground. Seek clothing that fits your body, and you’ll look good and be able to move freely and comfortably at work.

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About vseitz

Marketing Professor at California State University, San Bernardino and author of "I Don't Wear A Suit."

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