Thursday, May 14, 2009

Size doesn’t matter but fit does

Take your measurements. I know how traumatic this is unless you have had major cosmetic surgery. But you have to take your measurements. Otherwise you have no way of knowing what size you are. This is not a guessing game. Don’t hold clothes up to yourself in the store unless you are planning to have them stapled to the outside front of whatever you are currently wearing.

Here’s the deal: everyone sizes differently. What is a size 8 in one line may be a 6 in another and a 10 in still another and oh my God a 12 in another line. Who the heck cares as long as it fits? I have clothes in 3 different sizes. No, not my “fat” clothes vs. my “skinny” clothes. 3 different sizes that actually fit correctly.

Correct fit is key to looking your best. You simply can’t look good if your clothes are too tight or too big.

I don’t care how tiny you are. If it’s too tight then don’t wear it. You may be able to squeeze into a size 2 but you should never have to squeeze into anything! There should be a little play in the waistband, in the seat, in the bust…Tight looks cheap. I don’t care how much you paid for your clothes. If they are tight, you look cheap. And if it’s tight it is not the right size. You are not a size 2 if it looks painted on. Buy the 4 and get over yourself.

If you are self-conscious about your weight or size for any reason you need to make sure your clothes are not baggy or too big. Don’t do the giant sweatshirt over leggings thing. You end up looking like a globe on stilts. This look is flattering to no one. If you are wearing a jacket, button it. Leaving it open makes it hang from the fullest part of your bustline and causes you to look even bigger. Find your right size and wear it. Too big looks sloppy. Forgo turtlenecks for v-necklines to create length. But don’t wear your clothes baggy in a misbegotten attempt to look thinner.

If you are petite you may not be limited to the petite department. I have long legs even though I am only 5”2”. Most petite pants are too short for me. Sometimes the arms and shoulders on shirts and blouses don’t work as I have broad shoulders. So I try things on in all departments. If it looks good, it’s a keeper. The only time I say stick “your” department is regarding coats. I know someone who insists on buying trench coats in the regular Misses department even though she is only 5’2” like myself. The shoulders of the coat fly out like shoulder pads on a line-backer. The hem is down at her ankles. She looks not only shorter but just plain silly.

Pants hems should hit at the back of the shoe, slightly above the heel. Try pants on with a couple of different pairs of shoes. I know it’s a hassle but it needs to be done to be well-dressed at all times. Different heel heights call for different inseams. What looks good with a 3” heel looks sloppy with flats and what looks good with flats looks goofy with a heel. You don’t want to be the one in the “high water” pants. Neither do you want those jeans dragging on the ground and going all threadbare at the hem.

Skirt hems are a matter of personal taste but again, some rules still apply. A universally flattering look is just at the middle of the knee, just at the bottom or just above. Don’t do the stiff A-line to the middle of the calf or below the knee. It throws your proportions off. If you are opting for a cocktail dress make sure it doesn’t go to the matronly mid-calf length. Unless you want to look like Queen Elizabeth. At the knee is best. If you are wearing a long skirt either casually (like those pretty gauze or flowered ones) or formally (like the sleek knit ones), make sure it hits just above the ankle or at the ankle depending again upon the shoe. If you are short you are better off not wearing a floor length skirt unless you are comfortable wearing 2 ½ to 3” heels. Otherwise you look like you’re standing in a ditch.

When you need to, get things tailored. A lot of times we can buy things off the rack and they fit perfectly and that is great. Less work for everyone. Some of the time there is some tweaking to be done. I have a dress I bought at the local Goodwill. Gorgeous basic black, square neckline tank dress. But I have a short waist and needed to have that altered slightly as well as having the straps shortened. It hardly cost anything. Even if it had cost me $20.00, the dress still would have been a steal. Find a good tailor or seamstress and have your clothes altered to your proportions. It is worth every penny. Take in the waist or let it out, hem the trousers and skirts, alter the straps, bring the cuffs up a bit. You will look like a million bucks and will have only spent a few dollars.

Elizabeth Sutor is a Makeup Artist and Wardrobe Consultant. She can be reached at or 302.312.9241. Her website is

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