Clothing: The Basics (Part One)

Throughout the year, we’re going to cover, or at least attempt to cover, everything about clothing.  Starting first with the basics…

FIT:  A good fit means that the clothes skim the body (NO CLINGING) to show your shape. Everything on the garment should lie flat…pockets flaps, pleats, seams, lapels, etc.  Whenever clothing pulls (which means it’s too small) it not only looks cheap and sloppy, it ADDS POUNDS.  PLEASE hear me on this one.  I see this constantly and I cannot figure it out.  PLEASE do not be concerned about the size on the label.  Everything should be based on FIT.  No one can see the label when you are walking down the street.  What they can see is how you look in it.  Just because you can get something ON doesn’t necessarily mean it FITS.  The irony of this is when you wear something too small, you look heavier.  Alfred Hitchcock was known to dress an actress in one size too small when the part called for someone to look cheap or poor.  He dressed them a size up when the part was of a rich or affluent woman.  We’ll talk more about this throughout the year when we discuss tailoring and what an impact it can have.  BUT, for now, just remember, clothing should skim, not cling. 

FABRIC:  Qualities to look for: 1) weight and 2) movement.   When a fabric is too stiff it can look boxy.  If it’s too thin, it can cling.  Wool crepe, microfiber, modal fabrics, cotton, wool gabardine, and cotton blended with silk are great choices.  Acrylic can be great too, especially for blouses because it takes a lot to destroy it (for all those not too good at laundry).  It usually keeps it shape and doesn’t fade.  A touch of spandex can be good too.  Nothing more than 10% though… once a fabric has 10% spandex or more, you will get that effect of the garment “growing”.  Then, you’ll be tempted to put it into the dryer to shrink it back.  Which, will have that affect in the short term, but drying anything with 10% spandex or more on high heat repeatedly over time will cause the fibers to break down…so, it will “grow” but then not shrink back.

PROPORTION:  Fit is only half the battle.  Everything can fit but if the proportion is off, the whole things goes south.  Here’s where you need to know, and be honest, about your body.  How long are your legs in relation to your torso?  Are you long or short waisted?  Are you petite?  Which, is NOT only about your height.  It’s really more about the distance from your neck to your waist.   One good, in general, rule of thumb is the “short over long” or “long over short” rule.  For example, if you have a fitted pencil skirt on, top it with a cropped jacket that ends at your waist.  Your legs will look longer and the proportion of fitted to boxy will flattering.  Wearing a boxy top AND loose or baggy pants, can be a very messy look.  And the opposite, a completely fitted outfit, if too tight, can look cheap.  The opposite rule works well too, long over short… such as a slightly longer chunky sweater over skinny jeans.  Or, a trench coat over leggings (Audrey Hepburn) with flats is perfection.

Ponder all that for now, more to come. 

Up next, “Finding Your Style.”