Why is it so hard to find clothes that fit?
Making something larger doesn't mean that it will fit properly. Photo: Getty images
Women are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with clothing stores and designers making clothes that don’t fit the typical Australian figure. Three out of four women surveyed said they had had some difficulty finding clothes to fit their body shape.
Of the hundreds who wrote detailed critiques of modern fashion, many were fed up with inconsistent sizing. Emma, 20, said: “I find the sizing difficult when I am usually a 10, but can be an 8-14. I also have wide hips, which makes finding the right-sized bottoms difficult.”
Others bemoaned the fact that nothing fit properly – it is clear that woman’s bodies are astonishingly varied and many do not fit standard sizing at all. Particular dislikes were sleeveless shirts, revealing necklines and dresses that cling to a not-so-flat stomach as the result of having children.
A large proportion of those surveyed complained about the lack of choice for 40-something women who wanted to look fashionable, yet felt alienated by the trends aimed at 19-year-olds. Catherine, 39, said: “I think there is a huge gap in shopping choices for reasonably priced clothing for 35- to 50-year-old women who don’t want to look like grandmas but also don’t want to be revealing too much skin.”
Daisy Veitch, managing director of the Adelaide mannequin maker SHARP Dummies, says there are two main problems when it comes to shopping for clothes that fit. “The first problem is missing sizes,” she says. “Designers often don’t make a garment larger than a size 14 or 16.”
And if they do, it usually doesn’t follow the contours of our bodies. “When you design an item of clothing, it’s usually designed in a size 10. To change this to a size 16, 18 or 20 adjusts the ‘grade’ of the design. This means that a whole lot of errors are created so the piece of clothing doesn’t fit correctly on a woman’s body.”
Veitch says that there is a clear trend of an increase in women’s weight, but no corresponding increase in height. “As women are getting larger, it becomes harder to make clothes that flatter,” she says. “It’s difficult to make someone who’s a size 20 look as good in an outfit also worn by a woman who is a size 10. Designers don’t really know how to cut and design for a larger shape.”
The other difficulty in clothes shopping is that many women aren’t a definitive size. “It may be that [both] a size 10 and a size 12 fits,” she says. “Older women, especially, find that their taste and style isn’t catered for. If they are smaller it doesn’t mean they want to buy clothes from the children’s department.
"I am a size 8 to 10 but I am an apple shape, so I find it hard to flatter my breasts without looking frumpy or like a streetwalker.”
“Having had three kids and [being] only 155cm, finding anything flattering can be a nightmare!”
“I am plus-size. The clothes are either really daggy or too short and sassy (okay for young ones).”
“I can’t help feeling that most of the fashion retailers have forgotten what it’s like to dress a female over 40! I am a size 12, 166cm and in proportion, and yet still struggle to find clothes that make me look and feel how I want be portrayed – happy to be alive and enjoying life.”
“I don’t like showing my arms, so I like tops/dresses with a slight sleeve, which are hard to find in summer. I am also pretty tall, so dresses are very short on me – drives me mad!”
“I have big breasts ... they never have the right size in high-end stores. I don’t even go into them any more. Even after losing weight, I am still not the right shape.”