I have an obsession with fit and for a really good reason! Have you ever thought about the relationship between the improper fit of clothing and how it affects body confidence? This silent correlation is very real! You know when a garment doesn’t work for your body. Hello waist gaps! The first thought is probably my butt is too big! or I have thunder thighs! The self-blame begins. In an article at Business of Fashion, Can Technology Solve the Fit Problem in Fashion E-Commerce, it states that 20-40% of all clothing purchased is returned due to fit. A 2010 NPD Group study, it was found that 62% of women had a hard time finding clothing that fit well and 57% of women did not fit today's standard sizes. This proves that and I'm careful here, to say that it’s the garment, not your body, that is the flaw. It’s never your body. Somewhere along the road of a fast-growing world population, consumption and fast product distribution, we began designing clothing with ideals in mind. The ideal lifestyle, the ideal body type and the ideal size that all-in-one can fit. The problem is that we are not ideals; we are individuals. And our ideals are as diverse as our measurements.
The more I took the time to study the fit of garments, the more I noticed the correlation between fit and confidence. Extensive studies have been done between the women consumer's psychology in relation to clothing fit. Per a dissertation Exploring consumers' fit perceptions and satisfaction with apparel fit in general at Iowa State University, studies show that good fit clothing can improve self-image and body cathexis. The same is true for ill-fitted clothing, it will contribute to the dissatisfaction of one's body. In my personal experience what I wore and how it made me feel not only impacted my relationship with myself, but also how I carried myself at work and how I thought of my own success and self-worth. My clothing was making me insecure and there was no reason for it other than poor fit.
I’ve always been athletic. I grew up being taught to respect and honor my body by taking care of it. And really the only time I would become insecure about my body was when it came to ill fitted clothing. I dreaded shopping for pants, and button up blouses were entirely out of the question. It came to the point where I would buy clothing three sizes too big, just to be able to have some sort of movement. The garments never fitted properly, but they gave me room to breath. So why did I subject myself to clothing that made me feel less than wonderful? The reasons so many of us do; we think we need to become these ideals.
When I started studying garment construction, and how we think about sizes, I wondered ‘who was clothing being designed for?’ I would see women (and men) walking down the street in garments that just did not fit them. And I stress again, it was the garments that were the problem – not their bodies. And we’ve all heard it. Our friends will make remarks about how they cannot wait to get home to slide into their comfortable clothing. About how they wish we could wear yoga clothes to the office or the juice cleanse they are starting to help them fit into their LBD for Friday night.
And then it sort of hit me – clothing is designed with mannequins in mind. But what is it that mannequins do and human beings don’t? Human beings exist in the real world. We do not live in storefronts or window displays. We are busy people who live beautiful and colorful lives. We need our clothing to move with us from work, to picking up kids, to spending time with family and cheering on the sideline at sporting events. Our clothing needs to keep up!
The athlesiure trend of this year was very much inspired by a push for clothing that is more livable. But, what about those occasions where we need to wear a power suit? Should we be subjected to an ill fitted garment? Absolutely not!
If there is one thing you take away from my writing, please let it be this: comfort and confidence are not mutually exclusive. This is the year I commit to never wearing another ill fitted garment. Because what happens then, is you begin to criticize your body. And your body is never the problem. When I go shopping with a client and we are deciding on fit, my first question is always ‘what are you comfortable in?’ Because what I’m comfortable in and what you are comfortable in are different things because we are different bodies. And what pains me the most, is when people don’t know the answer to that. Sometimes, we’ve been wearing ill-fitted clothing for so long that we don’t know what individual comfort is, outside of sweatpants and lounging clothing. This will take a toll somewhere along the line on our confidence, silently.
It’s time we learned to love our bodies, and to love clothing that honor our beautiful and diverse sizes. Invest in tailoring, invest in quality and invest time in building the wardrobe that makes you fall even more in love with yourself.
Eman Idil Bare
A Canadian based journalist who also writes for Teen Vogue, Huffington Post and Muslim Girl. She is also a reporter/producer for CBC News. More into her scene Instagram | Twitter