The Most Important Style Principle – Clothing Fit

Statement Piece Clothing Fit

I’m just going to come right out and say it.

When it comes to foundational style principles, I feel like the importance of clothing fit has become more than a little under-rated.

Discussions around trends and designers seem to dominate the style landscape. (And to my mind, these factors fall more into the category of fashion rather than style.)

If the conversation does happen to get to some of the more fundamental style building blocks it seems to stop at quality, body shape, colour analysis and style personalities.

Please don’t get me wrong. As a Style CoachTM I absolutely believe that these style elements are vital components to creating a look – and a wardrobe – you love.

But I also believe that clothing fit is at least equally important – and potentially more important – than any of the other style elements.

You can have a high quality garment that theoretically flatters your unique shape. One that perfectly complements your colouring and feels like an excellent match to your style personality.

But if it doesn’t fit, it won’t matter how many other boxes that item ticks. It simply won’t look good. And sadly, you won’t feel good in it either.

Take just a moment to think of how much poor clothing fit can impact your day. No one likes it when their clothes feel too tight. Nor do many of us like tugging or pulling at our clothes every time we move. And dealing with gaping – even just the thought of it – can impact our confidence.

And yet we seem to let ourselves down when it comes to clothing fit. We will, for a variety of reasons (that often include weight changes and the money we’ve spent) continue to wear something that no longer fits or perhaps never fit. And in doing so, we make ourselves feel less than great.

So When It Comes To Clothing Fit, What Are We Looking For?

When it comes to clothing, fit is one of those things that is better described by what it isn’t rather than what it actually is.

It is easy to tell when something doesn’t fit properly. There will be puckering. Or constriction. Perhaps there will be gaping. Maybe a sense of shapelessness. And there will definitely be a feeling of all around discomfort.

When you nail fit, you will feel comfortable and your clothes will be aligned to your body. You won’t be bothered by stretching or excess fabric. Your clothes will skim over your body. And you won’t even think about the clothes you are wearing.

My Top Tips For Nailing Clothing Fit

One: Try Things On – And Once You Are In The Fitting Room, Take Your Time

It seems that dressing rooms are one of the places we least want to visit. As a result, many of us avoid them entirely, or rush in and out of fitting rooms like there is no tomorrow. Consider the time you spend in the fitting room as an investment in your confidence as well as your wardrobe. Learning to try on purchases and to take your time – despite the dreadful lighting and fun-park mirrors – will help you really consider the fit. The more space you give yourself to ‘wear’ the clothes, the more likely you are to buy something that fits you perfectly.

Two: Trust Your Intuition

Whether you are considering a new purchase or you’ve had an item for a while, take the time to really think about how the garment feels on your body. If an item doesn’t feel excellent, it probably doesn’t look excellent.

And when buying new clothes, remember that sales assistants and well meaning shopping companions all have their own motivations when they tell you something looks good! You will tend to avoid wearing anything that isn’t completely comfortable – so trust your intuition and don’t bring it home in the first place.

Three: Don’t Be Fooled Into Buying A Piece That Almost Fits

Sometimes clients will say something to me along the lines of ’Well, it fits perfectly…except it is a little tight in the upper arms’. If it is a little tight in the arms or the waist, or too short, I promise you won’t end up wearing the garment nearly as much as you would if it did actually fit you perfectly. Save your money and wait for the ideal piece to come along.

Four: Think About Your Underwear

Choosing the right lingerie can make a massive difference to the fit of your clothes. Smooth, seamless styles can help your clothes to sit correctly on your body. If you’ve not been professionally fitted for a little while, consider taking the time to ensure you are still wearing the right sized underwear for you.

Five: Find A Great Tailor

This tip particularly applies if your weight has changed or if you’ve made some less than ideal purchases. A tweak or two here and there from a tailor who knows what they are doing can breathe new life into a garment.

Finally, Don’t Underestimate The Link Between Clothing Fit And Confidence

One of my beautiful coaching clients recently discovered for herself the difference wearing clothes that fit her properly could make to her confidence.

A weight change had seen her not wearing her favourite jeans to work for a while (her company has a ‘business casual’ dress code). Her jeans were just a bit too tight, and they didn’t feel good. And, as can happen for many women, she’d been reluctant to invest in new jeans. After all, apart from the fact that they didn’t fit, there was nothing wrong with her old ones.

So instead she was wearing pants that fit ok, but didn’t make her feel special. In fact, they were making her feel anything but stylish. And that began to impact on her confidence. There was always that little thought of ‘I don’t look as good as I could’ in the back of her mind.

This particular client is a go-getter who doesn’t appear to tolerate feeling anything less than fabulous for very long. She bit the bullet, and invested in herself and her wardrobe and purchased three new pairs of perfectly fitting jeans.

She began wearing her new jeans to work and immediately felt more confident. She’s described feeling better equipped to deal with her stressful role, because she is no longer devoting energy to thinking about how she could look better. It might seem like a small thing, but if big days and difficult conversations can be made even slightly easier because she feels more confident with her style then I’d argue that the investment in those jeans was more than worth it.

Is clothing fit an important consideration for you? Have you ever considered the link between fit and confidence? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.

About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

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7 thoughts on “The Most Important Style Principle – Clothing Fit

  • Alisa

    yes yes yes yes yes!
    This is one of my huge issues! When I worked as an attorney, I wore tailored suits every day – and a well-fitting suit was always a pleasure to put on in the morning and more comfortable than even the most casual clothes that did not fit well. Why do I keep forgetting that? I have a 30 second rule for buying clothes – if I don’t love it in 30 seconds, I don’t buy it – and thanks to you bringing up this subject, I realize that I need to adopt that same rule for fit. Maybe even 15 seconds, because if an item does fit, you just KNOW without even looking in the mirror.
    We think of fit as something visual, but it is really how the clothes feel, isn’t it? And size is only part of that.
    Now that you have put this on my radar, I looked at my closet and realized that some of my clothing that never really feels comfortable (and is rarely worn) share some common design elements. An example for me is dropped shoulders. I am forever fiddling with them, so that even though they visually fit me quite well, they feel as though they don’t.
    Janelle, this is the most useful and inspiring post I have read on Distant Francophile. You are right, we don’t generally think consciously about fit and various design elements and how clothes FEEL on our bodies. The mirror should only confirm what we know as soon as we try something on and feel it move with us: it fits or it doesn’t.

    • Janelle Post author

      Alisa, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for this comment. There are (at least) two reasons for my gratitude.

      Firstly, you’ve managed to condense over 1000 words into only a few. A piece either fits or it doesn’t. And if we are truthful with ourselves, we know in seconds – as you rightly suggest. This is true regardless of whether an item is brand new or we’ve lived with it for a while. It is actually the time we take to kid ourselves that slows things down when deciding what to wear. I’ll definitely be more succinct with my clients in the future, thanks to your comment.

      Secondly, I’ve stated publicly that my main aim for DF is to provide some helpful info (and maybe some pretty photos). The fact that you found this post the most useful really touched me, especially as I know you’ve been reading for a long time. Thanks so much for letting me know.

  • Kristie O'Sullivan

    Yes, you are so right, fit is important and for many reasons. I spend more on motorcycle clothing than on fashion and it’s only in recent years that bike gear for women has come onto the manufacturers’ radar. In particular it’s been hard to find gloves that fit a woman’s smaller hand. I tried on a pair of Rukka gloves, a German brand, and instantly knew they fitted perfectly. You operate the clutch and front brake with your hands and well-fitting gloves that allow good control are essential so I parted with $210 for a pair and haven’t regretted it. Also, in recent years bike clothing for women has become more stylish, thank goodness, and it’s mostly coming from Europe.

    • Janelle Post author

      Hi Kristie! Thank you so much for bringing a fresh perspective on the concept of fit. I’ve thought about it long and hard from a feeling point of view, but hadn’t extended that thinking to the practical. You knew by ‘feel’ that your Rukka gloves were ‘right’ but that feeling would have been reinforced by the practicality that came with the improved control of your bike!!

    • Alisa

      Ditto for work gloves that have become just a bit more available for women’s hands. I treasure the one pair of leather work gloves that I have found that fit my smaller hand perfectly, and they allow me to do rugged work without injury. I too often took off the larger gloves that sort-of-fit but that never felt right.

  • Winnie

    Absolutely agree, Janelle. I find that most off the rack clothes rarely fit anybody perfectly. They can’t because we are all different shapes. I’m short waited, so dresses often don’t fit well around the arms & neck. I take all dresses along to a tailor who alters them to give me a perfect fit. It means off the rack clothes cost me a bit more but it is worth it – I probably would only wear the poor fitting dress a couple of times & then it would languish in the back of my wardrobe.

    • Janelle Post author

      Yes Winnie, for the little bit of extra cost and effort, I’m sure you find yourself with pieces you love. And I’ll bet that the return on the investment in your clothing is great when it comes to cost-per-wear. Have a great week.