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Why it’s so difficult to find clothes that fit

Shopping is both a blessing and a curse. When you stumble upon a great outfit, it can be a wonderful, confidence-boosting experience: nothing beats finding the perfect dress, heading to the change room and discovering it actually fits.

But, in reality, how often does this happen? Everyone gets lucky every once in a while, but more often than not, you walk into a change room only to find that the skirt you fell in love with on the rack is too big or too small, too tight or too loose. If you’re really optimistic, you’ll go up or down a size and try to make it work. But no matter how hard you try, it’s usually near impossible to find your size in a retail store. Why?

Vanity sizing is a trend in which global brands alter their sizing charts to make shoppers feel slimmer. Most brands create their own sizing charts: a woman might wear size 6 at one store and size 10 at another. Numbers are pretty much meaningless in the world of contemporary fashion.

A proper fit is based on your measurements and body shape. When it comes to retail sizing, most brands only account for measurements and not for body shape. Instead, labels create a garment pattern based on their definition of their “average” woman. They pick her body shape and decide her standard measurements. She might, for instance, be a size 6 with an athletic body type. A designer will make a pattern based on these “average” measurements and, from there, garment makers scale that same pattern up or down to produce a range of sizes.

Of course, the definition of “average” is completely up for debate, but if you look at the sizing charts of several global fashion brands – including big names like Ann Taylor, Zara, H&M, Banana Republic, and J. Crew – the difference between waist and hip measurements is usually somewhere between nine and 11 inches. Remember, these numbers are neither good nor bad – we ought to celebrate women of all shapes and sizes – but if a brand’s sizing chart doesn’t line up with your own waist and hip measurements, there will always be something about their clothes that doesn’t work for you.

So far, no major fashion brand has managed to successfully tackle this problem. Some labels – The Gap, for example – now sell “curvy jeans” to accommodate shapelier body types, however the challenge of customizing a whole line of garments to each body shape is a costly one, and mass-market fashion brands are unlikely to change their business model any time soon.

So what’s a woman to do? Your best bet is custom clothing. A well-made garment that’s tailored to your measurements is a worthwhile investment. At Rita Phil, we create a custom pattern for every single skirt we make. When you place an order, we ask for three measurements: hips, waist, and thighs. This information, along with your height and a photograph, helps us to create a pattern tailored to your exact body type. If something isn’t clear, we ask questions, set up video calls, and go the extra mile to make sure that we understand your body type and what you need to look – and, more importantly, feel – successful. The end result is a skirt made for you and you alone.

WRITTEN BY: DANA FILEK-GIBSON

 


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