‘I’ve been dressing women for 17 years. You are not the reason why the clothes don’t fit.’

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I’ve worked in the fashion industry for 17 years dressing women and the thing that always gets to me is how females always blame themselves when clothes don’t fit them.

Immediately they think it’s their body shape that’s ‘wrong’ and try squeezing in to their ‘usual’ size but leave the shop empty handed, body confidence knocked yet again.

It also amazes me how differently women view their body versus men.

For example, my female clients break down each body part, analyse it and criticise it. My male clients look in the mirror, see their overall physique and say ‘I’m pretty good’.

Don’t we think it’s time we took a leaf out of their book?

I understand that the size label we wear is an emotional ‘tag’ we carry around with us that represents our identity, part of our personal brand and some women are very attached to a certain number.

However, I know from working as a fashion designer for the high street across several countries that there are many reasons clothes might not fit well and end up on the shop floor a lot smaller than they should be, from fabrics lacking the correct stretch amount, panels cut badly or simply poor manufacturing.

Several of the fast-fashion retailers now boast about how they can get a garment from design concept to the shop floor in three weeks. Yes, that’s not a typo, you read it right, three weeks. The problem with that is that there leaves very little time for the ‘fit process’.

The ‘fit process’ is the process each and every garment has to undergo, to be fitted up to three times to their ‘fit model’ to ensure the style works in that particular fabric and fits well enough to go to mass production.

This process alone normally takes a couple of months, so three weeks does not allow for this to be done well, if at all. Some of those clothes you tried on the other week that looked like they were made with a knife a fork with the bust dart up by your collar bone might well have been one of these items.

I’m not saying all ‘fast fashion’ is bad. On the contrary, I used to design for ASOS and H&M and they generate amazing product. However I am saying that not all product is made equal.

All retailers have multiple suppliers across many countries they have to manage, which means ensuring they all follow the brands size guides which is a huge job in itself, particularly for an industry like fashion where nearly every single style is the first of it’s kind to be made.

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Each dress size has a five centimetre difference between the bust/waist/hip measurement, from a size 12 to 14 for example, so if a style has several panels which are sewn badly with too much seam allowance taken, then that size 14 ends up fitting more like a 12… but still with a size 14 label.

Oh, there’s also the huge problem of how each different retailer develops their own sizing scale based on sales data, because *cue gasp* there is no industry sizing standard in Australia.

It was scrapped in 2008, so it’s no wonder we never know what size clothes we’re going to be from one store to the next.

Basically this means that a youth retailer could have a much smaller, straighter ideal body type as their consumer compared to a more mature brand who aims to fit curves. Therefore, a size 12 in Cue could be a size 8 in Seed. If you want to drop a dress size, just shop at a different brand!

So, the moral of the story is please don’t ever blame YOUR body. It’s chaos out there. Do not let a size tag change your mind about buying, or not buying, an item.

My advice would be to select two or three different sizes to try on and purchase the one that you prefer without even looking at the size label.

Kim Crowley is the founder of Sydney personal styling company Style Sense. You can find more from her on her website www.StyleSense.net.au.

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