Why is it so hard to find clothes that actually fit? Hint: It's not you
It’s an all too common phenomenon, you see a garment, you fall in love with it, but when you try it on, the fit is all wrong and unfortunately, the garment has to be returned to the rack.
But why are there so many garments that don’t fit even the most average of body types? The answer is actually quite simple - it hasn’t gone through a ‘fitting process’.
The fitting process is essentially the steps that are taken throughout the creation of a garment to assure that it looks nice not only on a hanger, but on a person.
The fit of a garment refers to the relation between body dimensions and clothing dimensions. When a garment fits well, the individual will feel comfortable and any movement or tasks can be completed without being impeded.
A fit that is too tight can be restrictive or inhibit movement, whereas a garment that is too loose can lead to annoying excess fabric that gets in the way and may even cause accidents.
While fitting a garment should be a constant process there are three main stages where the fit of a garment is tested and perfected...
Methods of garment fitting
Printed tissue fitting
Printed tissue fitting is a process in which the pattern pieces are printed onto thin tissue and then pinned onto a dummy to construct the basic structure of a garment. This provides a general idea of how the garment will fit and isolates any major issues with construction.
While this process can be helpful, tissue paper is very difficult to work with, tears easily and drapes differently to fabric, therefore this technique is mostly used for simple garments and only as the first stage of fitting.
The trial garment, also referred to as the ‘toile’ or ‘muslin’ involves constructing the basic structure of a garment using inexpensive material to see how it comes together and sits on a human form.
This trial garment will reveal any issues with the pattern that can then be revised. Using this method prevents wasting too much of the fashion fabric which can be very expensive.
While the pattern fitting and trial garment stages are a helpful tool to fix any big issues in a garment, it is important to sample the piece for fit in the intended final fabric. This is because all fabrics fit differently, thus using a different fabric could result in the garment being too loose or too snug and things such as darts or waistlines may not end up in exactly the right place.
The fit sample is also tried on a human form which can bring to light unforeseen issues, that occur when the garment is subjected to movement.
If a garment has been through previous fitting stages the alterations at this stage should be minimal, reducing fabric waste.
Most garments that have been put through a proper fitting process will have undergone a combination of these techniques, as well as being subject to constant revision throughout the designing and manufacturing process.
Achieving the perfect fit is a process and is one of the most challenging aspects of garment creation.
When considering the lengthy processes that are involved in creating a garment that is made to fit the human form, it is little wonder that much of the clothing available from fast fashion retailers doesn’t fit correctly.
Indeed, some fast fashion retailers are able to create garments from design conception to selling on the shop floor on as little as three weeks - leaving little or no time for the fit process.
In order to meet the market demands of fast fashion corners are being cut, and often ensuring that the garment actually fits is one of the first processes to be axed due to its time and cost heavy nature.