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Fit Clinic: The Basics

Jeweled-Collar Schoolboy Blazer, $325, jcrew.com, No. 2 Pencil Skirt, $79.99, jcrew.com, Davis Sheath Dress, $208, neimanmarcus.com, Editor Pant, $79.90, express.com, Kamara Top, $198, shopbop.com

Staring at yourself in the dressing room mirror can be a daunting experience. You love the cut and the color, but does it fit? Because if it doesn’t, it isn’t going to just look bad. It’s going to make YOU look bad, and that’s pretty much the opposite of style, right? Here are some tips to make sure you’re getting the right fit, no matter your size.

First, a few fit basics that you probably know, but bear repeating:

  1. Always fit the biggest part of you, and tailor the rest down. 
  2. Find a competent tailor who can make those adjustments for you.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the adjustments a tailor can make. They are miracle workers, but they can’t make a dress two sizes too small fit you perfectly.

And now some more specific tips for each type of garment:

  • When you’re trying on a blouse, have a look at the shoulder seams. They should sit at the outer edge of your shoulder. Not below. Not above. AT. If they’re below, but the rest of the shirt fits, don’t worry, a tailor can fix this. But if they’re above? Your shirt is probably snug elsewhere, and you just don’t want to admit it. Give the next size up a try. 
  • With a skirt, proper fit consists of the right length and sit-ability. Finding that sweet spot on your leg where your skirt should land takes trial and error and an honest friend. Once you’ve mastered that, remember that you spend a LARGE portion of your day seated at your desk. So sit down in the dressing room and make sure your skirt is up to the task. 
  • You want your trousers to break perfectly across your shoes, whether they’re flats or heels. If you can, buy them too long and have them hemmed while wearing the shoes you’re going to wear with them. That way, there’s no guesswork. 
  • Watch your sleeve width and stance in a blazer. Determining what height stance works best for you will likely take a bit of effort, but finding it will be a major time-saver on future shopping trips. And sleeve width isn’t something people often think about, but if your sleeves are too wide, it can add unnecessary bulk. Have a tailor take a look and make an adjustment, if possible. 
  • Apply all the above tips to finding the perfect fit in a dress.

Manufacturers build clothes for one basic body type, and very few of us fit that description. It’s not you that doesn’t work; it’s the clothes. Making alterations and adjustments to your garments is just a part of the game. Once you discover how much better you look in clothes that fit you, you’ll never accept terrible off-the-rack fit again!

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