Mo Doy is a size-inclusive stylist based in Auckland.
ADVICE: What’s the difference between a good outfit and a great one? Fit.
Stylists have been saying for years that having a great tailor is essential, because when your clothes fit well you’ll always look put together. While that’s possibly true, it can also be expensive – and you don’t always get the result you imagined.
When shopping with a client, this is my number one focus. Not size, not price. When your clothes fit, you’ll feel comfortable, be able to move more freely and therefore feel more confident.
Just because you can get it on to your body doesn’t mean it actually fits you. It’s hard to feel chic when you have to pull at your waistband all day. Here’s what to look for when you’re trying on clothes.
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Look for clothes that are the same shape as you. I have smaller arms and legs and a bigger tummy, so I know that if I choose a garment that is smaller in the waist than the rest of the garment, the fit is going to be a struggle.
Hold the garment up: does it go in where you go in, and out where you go out? Then it’s likely to fit your shape.
Cinching in this and padding out that to reshape your body can be banned along with shapewear as far as I am concerned. The last thing I need is my shapewear rolling up to my neck or sliding down my front when I am trying to feel cool calm and collected. All I’ve ever felt in shapewear is hot, stressed, and sausage-like.
Choosing the right fabric can really help. If the label says ‘Nylon’ or ‘Elastane’, then you can be sure it is going to have some stretch. Blended with more natural fibres like cotton, these can also keep you cool in the heat of the summer.
I try and steer my clients away from investing in too much 100% Polyester, a manmade fabric you can find in almost every fashion line. It’s very cheap to make, holds its shape and is very colour-fast.
But it is also essentially plastic, takes hundreds of years to break down in landfill, releases microplastics into the water supply – and it’s hot! Polyester always ends up smelling worse than other fabrics too, and where fit is concerned, if it’s not loose-fitting, it pulls at the seams.
I am a huge fan of Rayon which is a manmade/natural blend made from cellulose (wood products). It’s lightweight, non-sweaty, creases drop out of it quickly and breaks down in landfill much more quickly. Ideally we’d keep all fabric out of landfill, but that’s a topic for another article.
How is the garment hanging on your body? Can you reach your arms up without the neckline popping up over your head?
Pay special attention to the seam that starts on top of your shoulder and scoops under your armpits; check the cut is deep enough to give you space across your biceps and chest without pulling.
The easiest fitting waistband has elastic in it. I look for pants with a flat front and an elastic back, or that have a drawstring, so they can be adjusted to tuck in anything from a lightweight T-shirt to a chunky sweater. Tailored tight-fitting pants look amazing, but without elastic in the waistband, you won’t enjoy sitting down in them for long.
I shopped with a client last week who was ‘around a size 18’ and we bought from size 12 to 22. Please don’t be put off by having to go up (or down) a size. Size tags don’t matter and don’t define you.
Not all clothes have to sit tight to the body. I love wearing oversized tops and swing dresses, but I still follow the same formula – can I move comfortably, is the fabric quality and is it hanging the way I want it to? For me, that usually means a neater fit on the shoulder.
One size fits all, doesn’t. There is no garment that fits all bodies, and in trying to, it often fits no one well at all. Brands often create these garments as a cost saving exercise – one pattern and no grading (changing the size between patterns) makes a very economical garment to create.
Make sure you like the way it looks on you, not just the fact that you can put it on. Some clothing patterns do have some flexibility, like this wrap dress that I’ve styled differently as my body has changed.
Shopping online can be tricky. Ideally you should buy styles from brands you already know, so you have a good idea what your size is.
The truth is, the cheaper the clothes are, the less likely they are to fit. Less time and money has been spent on fit modelling and production, and cheaper fabrics aren’t robust enough to last.
Brands with great fabrics that really care about fit cost more. But price-per-wear works out cheaper in the long run for both you and the environment. Measure yourself before you shop online and compare the garment measurements to something you have at home that already fits well.
Follow women online that have your shape or a style you like. Ask them about the sizes they wear in brands you are interested in, and you’re likely to get a closer fit.
Mys Tyler is a great new app where women share their outfits and you can choose to follow women of a similar size. Fashion inspo galore!
Having a wardrobe full of clothes that don’t fit you helps no one. You don’t have to get rid of them, but if something is too big or small, I put it in a basket under my bed or at the top of the wardrobe and revisit it the following season.
Chances are, it’s just not me any more. I am changing and evolving, and so is my wardrobe! If it stays in the basket for over a year, it either goes in the fashion archives (very special things that I want to keep because they’re art!) or gets sold on or gifted to friends.
Shopping can be difficult, and it’s hard not to feel rejected if something doesn’t fit you. But there is something wonderful out there waiting for you that will. Don’t forget, it’s the clothes’ job to fit you, not the other way around.
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Mo Doy is a size-inclusive stylist based in Auckland.