There used to be only one way to think about good fit, but thankfully those days have past. I believe a modern approach to fit has two important components. First, there are four different silhouettes to choose from and the fit of a garment should be assessed in the context of one of these silhouettes. Second, designers and retailers do not dictate fit. YOU have the power to decide your desired fit for any garment.
It’s liberating and more interesting to have multiple fit options, but it also makes things more complicated. That’s why it’s important to understand the differences between the four fit silhouettes. They form a continuum with structured fits on one end and unstructured fits on the other. Here they are:
1. Body-Con Fit
This is a very tight and structured fit. Some would say the fit is too tight, but it IS an acceptable choice if that’s what you’re after. It’s usually achieved with stretchy knitted garments like leggings and Ponte pants, or knitted pencil skirts, knitted sheath dresses, bandage dresses and skirts, and very tight knit tops. Woven jeggings and skinnies with lots of stretch can also be body con.
2. Tailored Fit
A tailored fit is the structured regular standard. Clothing closely follows the contour of the body but the result is not as tight as body-con. Garments are suppressed to fit through tailoring techniques like darts and princess lines instead of relying on the stretch of the fabric to mould the piece to the body. Any item of clothing can be made in a tailored fit. The tailored silhouette is always in style.
3. Fluid Fit
A fluid fit is looser than tailored but not as roomy as oversized. Garments don’t fit as closely to the body as they do with a tailored fit, and as a result are moderately baggy all over. In other words, they are not very structured.
Think fluid knitted tops and knitwear. Relaxed skinnies, streamlined boyfriend jeans, boyfriend shirts and blazers, streamlined cocoon coats and dresses, shift dresses, trapeze tops and jackets with gentle swings, and gentle boxy tops.
4. Oversized Fit
This fit is very roomy and unstructured. Garments look intentionally big and boxy, and are in some cases quite overwhelming. The garments stand far away from the body and you can’t see the shape of your figure underneath. Lots of volume and lots of fabric.
Think very baggy boyfriend jeans and slouchy trousers, huge tops and cropped tops, dramatically large jackets and cocoon coats, kimonos without belts, severe sack dresses, hectic cocoon dresses and billowing blouses and skirts. And extra wide leg trousers and jeans at any length.
There is room for all four fits in your wardrobe depending on the style of the item and the vibe of the outfit. Most people prefer a larger assortment of tailored and fluid fits with fewer body-con and oversized fits thrown into the mix. That sums up my own wardrobe too.
Once you’ve got your head around the different fits, you can manipulate the size of clothing pieces so that they fit how you want them to. I’ve bought items smaller, larger, longer and shorter than how the designer or retailer intended them to fit because that was the way that I liked the item best.
The fact that there is no longer one way to fit a garment does add complexity, but it’s also quite empowering. You probably have all the fits represented in your wardrobe already, and you’re also probably manipulating the size of items to adjust their intended fit without even knowing it. Garment fit has moved into this direction organically, and at some level it’s become quite intuitive for the wearer. Just another way that you are the master of your clothing, and not the other way round.