Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wardrobe From Scratch, Part 3: Basic Guide to Proper Fit


We've arrived at Part 3 of the Wardrobe From Scratch series, dipping our toes into the waters of clothing fit.  I say we're "dipping our toes" because this is a Fit 101 type of thing, not by any means an exhaustive guide to fit.  If you're looking for which shapes will flatter different body types, we'll do that later in this series, but not today.  Like the title of the post says, today is just a basic guide to proper fit!


Why Fit Matters
In the words of Stacy and Clinton, "If you don't have fit, you don't have style."  Here's a great example.  I love these pictures of Lauren Conrad and Jennifer Aniston:


sources: image 1  /  image 2

When I saw people wearing simple outfits like these, just a pair of jeans and a white tee, I wondered how they managed to look chic and put together while another person wearing jeans and a white tee looked...well...a little frumpy.  Why?  Is it because Jennifer Aniston has great hair?  Are Lauren Conrad and Jennifer Aniston both just so cute that anything looks good on them?  True and true, but really, the answer is because what Stacy and Clinton say is true.  Proper fit is key to style and looking put together.

I wrote in the Building a Remixable Wardrobe Series that one way I learned to remedy some frump factor was to add an accessory.  But sometimes even an accessory won't pull things together and the outfit will still look sloppy because all the accessories in the world cannot make up for the effect that ill-fitting clothes have on style.  


Here's an example of me trying to recreate the jeans and a white tee look with ill-fitting clothes and then with proper fitting clothes.  I even added an accessory to try to make up for the weird fit in the first outfit, but it didn't help.  The first picture looks a little sloppy and a bit awkward, not ideal.  The second outfit uses the same components but looks much more put together, all by changing the fit of the garments.

Now, rather than striking anxiety in you about your clothes fitting, I hope that this is actually encouraging.  Because as Jennifer Aniston and Lauren Conrad illustrate above, you don't have to be good at accessorizing, wear flashy clothes, or have trendy items to look stylish or to look put together--a couple of well-fitting items can do the trick.  Basically, be encouraged because once you get the right pieces you might not have to try so hard to look put together!  Sweeeeeet!

Some Notes
As we go into some general guides of proper fit I want to remind us that eventually in this series we'll get to the types of shapes that will flatter different body types, but not today.  Hang tight as we talk about the basics today.

Second, I recognize rules of fit can be bent and broken and you can still look chic.  (This is especially true if you are super tall and skinny!)  Just take these as a general guide or a basis from which to start if you are lost as to where your clothes should start and end on your body.

Third, the next post in this series will be sort of a part two to this fit guide, talking about alterations and what kinds of garments you can have altered and how.  Today's post will help you to know when/what/how you should get things tailored.

Finally, I'm totally NOT an expert in fit.  I'm seriously just regurgitating anything I've ever heard Stacy and Clinton say and putting it all in one place (this blog) for yall to reference.  Anyone else who actually knows what they're talking about, feel free to chime in on the comments, answer people's questions, and add to or correct anything I've said here!

Let's do it!







Tops / Blazers

Shoulders.  The seam of the shoulder should more or less match where your real shoulder is.  Even for my shirts that have a looser and more flowy fit, the shoulder seams still line up with my shoulders.  If the seam goes too far past your shoulder it will awkwardly broaden you shoulders and make you look like you're swimming in your clothes, which you don't want.  (I wish I had a picture to illustrate it for you, but I've basically gotten rid of all of my shirts that don't fit in the shoulders.)





Hem.  I've heard Stacy & Clinton say that for most people (read: not super tall people with really long legs) the hem of the shirt should end around mid hip, and not too far past the crotch of your pants.  This is to elongate the leg line.  One of my friends wore really long tops because she was trying to hide her midsection, but she was actually creating a weird silhouette for herself and accentuating her midsection instead.  

I bought the top in the picture on the left years ago, not realizing that it was way too long for me.  And even after I realized it was too long I still wore it for a while thinking it looked okay.  But now when I look at the difference between that top and a top that hits at the proper part of my hip, I can't believe I wore the long top.  It looks kind of unpolished compared to a shorter one.





Button-fronts should close without gaping.  This is true for a button-up top, a cardigan, and a jacket. If the garment gapes when buttoned, no matter what bust size you are, it's too small.  In the next post about tailoring we will talk about altering tops for women with larger busts.  




Sleeves.  Sleeves should fit just a little past your wrist, or as Stacy and Clinton say, "On the 'fleshy' part of your palm/."  


Otherwise, it looks like you are wearing someone else's clothes.  Plus, it doesn't look very polished when you look like you're drowning in your clothes.




Pants

No Muffin Tops
Alright, let's just get it out there.  Pants are hard to find, which is why in the next post we're going to talk about alterations to get your pants to fit right.  Honestly you guys, pants are hard to find for almost everyone.  Yes, harder for some than others, but still all around difficult.  But that is not any sort of excuse for settling for the muffin top.

A lot of you might think the muffin top is there because that is just how your body is, but more often than not it can actually be contained a little by--you guessed it--PROPER FIT.  Usually either 1) your waistband is too small and you're wearing the wrong size, or 2) you need to go for pants with a higher rise.  If you are having problems with a muffin top, first try wearing a different size and make sure it is NOT odd numbered.  Odd numbered sizes are for juniors with junior type bodies (aka no curves), not womanly figures.  If that doesn't work, try going with a higher rise.  Low rises usually sit a few inches below the belly button which does nothing to help contain and control any sort of tummy, in which case it'll spill out over the jeans and form a muffin top.  A higher rise (and the right size) will contain it everything where it should be instead of smooshing things around in odd places.  I'm not saying to wear high waisted mom jeans, but some sort of mid-rise would be worth a shot.  


Hem.  Hems of pants are a little more involved.  There are so many variables with pant hems depending on the cut of the pants and whether or not you're wearing the pants with heels or flats, etc.  

Basically, on one hand they shouldn't be so long that your pants drag on the ground.  Not only does it ruin your pants, but it actually pulls the eye downward and gives the overall appearance of droopiness rather than polished.


On the other hand, we don't want pants to be too short lest we look like we're in the middle of an awkward teenage growth spurt.  

So, what is the perfect pant length, you ask?  Like I said, it's kind of involved, so instead of me writing it all here, Already Pretty has a great post on pant lengths that I want to direct you to.  I found it really helpful and took into consideration stuff like flats versus heels and bootcuts versus skinnies versus trousers, etc.  Fantastic stuff, so check it out!


Put It Together
Well, there you have it--the basics of fit.  I think there's a couple that I left out, but this should be enough to start you off.  Hopefully it wasn't too overwhelming and actually a little helpful.  

I'd really, really encourage you to do the work of finding clothes that fit well or altering them so that they fit.  Sometimes you might think the fit is "not that bad" but when you compare it to what it could be if the pieces actually fit you, I think it's definitely worth making sure your clothes fit.


The first outfit may not look that bad, but I definitely don't think it says polished, like the second one does.  And all that happened was making sure the clothes fit right.  Not only does proper fit make the overall outfit more polished, it is also more flattering!  So why would you settle for "not that bad" when you can easily look more pulled together just by making sure your clothes fit well?  :)

Remember, the next post in this series is on alterations!


**Click here the entire Wardrobe From Scratch Series.


82 comments:

  1. Absolutely love this post! Couldn't have said it better myself. And I just shared with my coworkers the info about odd and even pant sizes. I had NO idea that was the "rule" Thanks for being you!

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  2. So well said. Every word, encouraging.

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  3. Thanks, Audrey. I love this series and I am actually TAKING NOTES as I go!!

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  4. So sooo grateful for this series!!

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  5. Such a great post, Audrey. I am loving this series! I agree about the t-shirt and jeans thing - I've always wondered how celebrities look amazing in the combo, while I just look sloppy. Thinking about the fit of the clothes makes complete sense!

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  6. Wow! What a great post! SO many amazing tips! I must admit I'm not always the best with fit! Especially when I thrift blazers, sometimes the sleeves are too long or too short!

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  7. Love this! I definitely needed it! Thank you!

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  8. Nice post!!! Where is that yellow necklace from?

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  9. Love this series. Thanks. Can you tell us what you did to make the white top and the striped top fit better? Also, how to style the white top with the belt? I love that cool effect!

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  10. This is a great post!

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  11. you are so awesome with these series!..Thanks

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  12. So excited about this series!!!! And wow - had no idea about some of those tips. Thanks!!!

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  13. And THIS is why I {heart} your blog, Audrey!

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  14. This is a brilliant post. Because I am losing weight and inches, clothes are fitting me differently. It should be a good problem, I know, but it's frustrating to feel like I'm playing dress up in someone else's clothes.


    The proof here is in the pudding- it's amazing how different the last two side-by-side pics look. It truly shows that little things make a huge difference.

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  15. Audrey, this it the most useful piece of advice about fashion and fit in a while! Thanks for all the tips, I'll definitely keep it mind when buying and putting together outfits/clothes.



    Keep 'em coming because these tips are super helpful and is one of the reasons I come back to your blog everytime!



    MJ
    Papersidewalks.blogspot.com

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  16. Oh my goodness your photos are such good illustrations! I think I'm pretty good on fit, but this kind of makes me want to try on all my clothes and try folding hem and sleeve lengths to see if I need to do better on proportions.

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  17. Thanks for the feedback, MJ! It's really helpful for me to know what is helpful for others, so I appreciate it!

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  18. Hi Margaret! Are you asking why the tops fit better, or are you asking what I did to make the hems shorter? With the belt and shirt tuck, there's not really a rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes it works for me and sometimes it doesn't. Just depends on the shirt. But basically you just tuck in one part and then fuss around with it so that the rest of it folds over nicely.

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  19. Thanks, Rachel! If sleeves are too long you can always get them shortened to look neater on you. If they're too short, then that might not work unless you just decide that you will always roll up your sleeves.

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  20. Haha, I love that you shared it with your coworkers. My pants size also dropped a bunch when I started wearing women's clothing. It was good for my self esteem too! haha

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  21. Great series, thanks for sharing your tips!

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  22. I inherited long thin limbs from my father and always had trouble with blazers, coats, and jackets. I saw an episode of What Not to Wear a few years back where Stacy told the participant (who also had long arms) that she should look for blazers and jackets that had extra fabric at the end of the sleeve's hem. She said that a tailor would be able to lengthen the sleeve by letting the hem down on it (please forgive me if I'm not using the correct words lol). I tried that with an old blazer and a new coat recently, and the tailor did a beautiful job. It was a little pricey ($48 for both items) but well worth it based on the cost to wear ratio. Thank you, Audrey, for another great post!

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  23. Yes! I forgot to mention the part about lengthening sleeves. Gotta love Stacy and Clinton!

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  24. This post was awesome! Not to say the others were bad, but this one really clicked with me. Thanks! :-)


    -AJ
    FitTravelerAJ.blogspot.com

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  25. Audrey, you are so amazing. This series is so great!

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  26. Really great post! Very useful! Its true that fit is so important! Not only does it make one look better instantly, but it boots confidence levels as well. Great advice, Audrey. Thank you!

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  27. Love this! Fit is so important (love that Stacy and Clinton quote), and I think we settle a lot of times because we like something, even though it may not fit exactly right... I'm definitely guilty of that. Also, if something fits me well, I FEEL better in it. Great post, Audrey :)

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  28. OMgoodness, I see so many ladies out there sportin the muffin top and I want to say to all of them "you'd look so much better if you just bought your size!!". But you can't...I find that strangers get a little offended when you say stuff like that. (kidding: I'd never actually do that). I did have a friend, however, that asked me to go shopping with her for fun and we went into the topic of jeans. I think many women are fixated on that tiny number on the tag and it prevents them from going a size up when they need to. I know that was my friend's issue. It wasn't that she had gained weight really...it was that her body had changed in the last 5 years. Well of course it does!! When I convinced her to try on different pairs in different sizes and shapes, she was seriously amazed. She'd been trying to force her booty into jeans that were what she wore 5+ years ago. Bodies change!!! I told her if the number bothered her that much to look at, then just cut it out. OR, grab a sharpie and make your own size on there...you can be size "perfect".

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  29. Haha! I chuckled at the first part of your comment.

    I totally agree about the number on the tag and I love what you said about it all. If you are squeezing into clothes that are too small for you, you will not look smaller! You will look smaller if clothes fit you better, regardless of what the number is on the tag. And I love your Sharpie suggestion and being size "perfect"!

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  30. I think my body must not be made for wearing pants. I have always had the Muffin Top issue like you said, so I went out and bought 4 pairs of what I thought were well fitting, mid high jeans. But since my belly and my butt are way bigger than the waist in between, my jeans slide down and just settle on that part, which makes the whole jean look saggy (especially the butt). I brought them to a tailor and he told me there was nothing I could do about it. Is it true? Will I be stuck with a saggy butt or muffin top forever?

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  31. Thank you for everything on your blog. I have never been able to figure out how to look more fashionable or put together, but you have made it simple! Now for a question...you mentioned in the shirt instructions (read: not super tall people with really long legs) Are the rules different for talls? I am 6'1 and sport a 36-37 inseam. Can I wear my shirts longer? Also I notice if I try to belt around shirts etc. up higher it looks odd/bizzare and out of proportion like my legs are stilts. Any thoughts? Or will you be covering that later when you do body types? Thanks sooo much!

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  32. Hey Margret! About the tops, are you asking what the difference is? (Hopefully it is obvious that they are shorter in length.) or are you asking how I made them shorter?

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  33. I love these side-by-side pictures, and it totally drives the point that well fitting clothes is the most flattering! I remember back in the day when ALL my shirts were that long, and I cringe to imagine how I looked swimming in way too long shirts.

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  34. Wow, I just learned SO much! Can you just come shopping with me?! Great post and series! Can't wait for the rest of the posts!

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  35. I'm not Margret but my question is how did you make the white shirt and striped shirt shorter? Are they the same shirts or different shirts? Love this series!

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  36. What about flats and skirts? I'm short and love flats (and don't wear jeans often) but don't know how they look with skirts. And where should the hem be?

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  37. Wow! This post is definitely a revelation to me. I always wondered why some people looked so great in outfits that were simple when it look ordinary on me. For a while, I thought maybe it was the quality of my clothes (I'm sure Jennifer didn't pay under 30$ for her t-shirt ;) ) but I realise with this post that is more about the fit. I used to think of fit or tailoring as getting the pants hemmed. I see I missed a whole world here!
    It's not discouraging or overwhelming at all, this post is super useful and I will definitely think about that now when trying on clothes. I will even go through my closet and see if I can have anything ill-fitting fixed.

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  38. You are a very talented blogger, my friend. Amazing tips - and the fact that you have the patience to write a post this informative/lengthy is also amazing!

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  39. Jferrell - if I may weigh in here. You can easily wear skirts with flats, but the skirt will look best if it hits right at or above the knees if you're going to wear flats. Otherwise, you run the risk of looking stumpy!!

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  40. Perfect! Thanks:)

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  41. Find another tailor. You could totally have this issue fixed. Try and find a tailor that deals with women more then men.

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  42. Caitlin @ Greater Than RubiesSaturday, February 16, 2013

    Love it! Easy to read and put into practice and the pictures are perfect. You did Stacy and Clinton proud!

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  43. Thank you for this post! I just pinned it and stumbled it :-)

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  44. Audrey, all your outfits are great & you always look so put together in them!!
    Can you share where you scored your plain white t (with the yellow necklace)?
    Good ones are sometimes hard to find.

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  45. Hi! Thank you for your sweet words! I got that tee for $10 at a store called Cotton On. I know what you mean about good ones being hard to find!

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  46. In regards to the last image posted, I think you look better on the left than on the right. The longer shirt is still form fitting and says relaxed, where as the second one makes you look uptight and uncomfortable (polished). The longer shirt also hides the weird bulge that jeans sometimes form in the zipper area. Eliminating the bulge creates smoothness in the jeans. The longer length in the jeans allows for a little bit more looseness from the knees down, again giving you a more comfortable, but still chic look.


    Just my opinion :)

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  47. Since Spring is here and Summer is on the way, will you share with us some swimsuit fitting tips?

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  48. :( I Had no idea that long shirts and bunchy pants (basically the last 'nono' picture.) were...well.."nono's" Thats how most of my closet looks...
    Good thing its almost time to buy new jeans!

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  49. If they would bring the waist back up to your waist, jeans and slacks would fit and look so much better. I do alterations for a living and so many complain about the fit, gaping in the back and muffin hanging over.

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  50. It is probably easier to alter your own clothes to make them fit right than you think. I am new to sewing, adnrecently altered two tops. One was cut in a perfect square so some subtle curves in the sides gave it much more shape and looked less like a tabard. I also took up a top from the shoulders that was baggy and although this changed the neckline more from rounded to a boat neck, it made the whole top sit much nicer and look less baggy.

    good advice on this page.

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  51. How did you make the striped shirt shorter? Is it altered? Thanks! Love your blog.

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  52. I just picked 8-9 shirts out of my closet that are too long. I think that's why I never wear them! Can't wait to hem them up and have "new" shirts. I'll have to do again for winter/fall!

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  53. Girls' fashion has really been spiced up in the last few seasons. Creativity and individuality are important qualities found in today's girls' fashion.

    http://www.apparelnbags.com/womens-t-shirt-short-sleeves.htm

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  54. I love how you take time to explain everything, then simply put it together. Such a great idea!!

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  55. This is such a great guide! Thank you SO much for these steps. I'm in that stage of transitioning from "teen" clothing to developing a more professional wardrobe, and this guide is a lifesaver :)

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  56. Love WNTW, and your explanations and pictures make the point very well! Thank you!

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  57. Great article - I appreciated the tips! I'm 5'3" and always feel better when wearing blouses, shirts, blazers, etc. that stop at my hip line; but so many are made so much longer, that the hem of the garment falls mid-thigh, which gives me a frumpy look. So off to the tailor I go, which is nice, but can be expensive.

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  58. Needy Wardrobe MomSaturday, August 03, 2013

    I love to read your wonderful information. I am 43 a Mom, high school teacher & wife. I feel like I have hit a mid life wardrobe crisis. I love the cute trendy clothes but have the hardest time finding things especially pants in the winter months & shirts in the summer months that fit.
    I love all the cute leggings & tunics with boots for winter but I want them longer & find it hard to shop for longer tunics. They always end right at the curve of my butt & legs meet leaving them looking to short.
    Your blog inspires me to take time to shop & not just run in and buy something & settle & make it work.

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  59. that is awesome. thanks

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  60. Wow I can't believe the little tips for length really transform the look of the body. I am going away to college and I am going shopping not for bulk, but more for things that look good and I am bigger so sometimes it get difficult. This really helps. Thanks

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  61. This is an awesome post! I never realized how important fit was. Your pictures really drive home these points. I am so glad I found your blog!

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  62. Awesome post Audrey - the whole finding clothes that fit is becoming a bigger and bigger problem every day as the fashion industry enforces "vanity sizing" and as the average person gains in weight. We are trying to solve this problem with Fitbay.com by helping people discover clothes that fit. Imagine walking into a store filled with clothes that fit just the way you like - that is what we are trying to accomplish, online. I would be honered if you would like to try out our product :) Please do let me know and thanks for sharing a very insightful article!

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  63. excellent, thank you!

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  64. Excellent points, however not every woman has "womanly curves." I'm 27 years old and have a fairly boyish figure. It's actually easier (and cheaper!) for me to buy junior size pants than it would be for me to buy women's sizes and have them tailored.

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  65. Absolutely! My point was not to say that everyone has womanly curves. It was to say IF you have them AND you have a muffin top problem, then try to not shop in junior's sections because they are not made for those with curves. If that's not a problem for you, then that doesn't apply, of course.

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  66. Keep those wonderful, useful, easy-to-apply tips coming our way! You have a creative and simplistic knack at fashion. I am a 49 year old health-care professional always looking for a better way to dress. I am not headed for the fashion runway and your information is perfect for my life. Best wishes for your efforts. Thank you.

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  67. First of all I love love love this blog! I am a tiny little person (Maxing out at 5' and a half) and your tips have helped me so incredibly much! I can't wait to read more information about picking the right clothes for my body type! Thank you so much for taking the time to lay out this blog!

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  68. Hi Audrey! I just wanted to say how much I've been enjoying your blog. I've been trying to master a capsule wardrobe in the last couple of years, and yesterday was Declutter Day. I've put on weight recently (ugh) and a lot of clothes don't fit properly anymore, so I've decided to get rid of them instead of hoping they'll fit again one day. I've found your remixing and fit pages really useful in deciding how to maximise my remaining wardrobe. Your photos, particularly the Before and After shots, make it so easy for a non-creative dresser to see your different techniques in action. Thanks for your work!

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  69. Great article. Lov eyour post!

    White House | Black Market
    Branded Women’s Clothing and Accessories

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  70. Hi Audrey, Sorry I disagree with most of your advice on clothes fitting. The worst thing would be to wear a top too short. If it stops across your tummy then it can make you look bigger! So unless you are slim and can wear most things, the longer length top is more feminine, sexy and modern. The boxy, crop tops are for the kids!

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  71. She didn't say wear a crop top, she said to avoid too long of tops. On a figure like hers, you have to admit it the shorter top is much more flattering, though the longer looks, well...just ok. Obviously, some of these tips need tweaking for different body shapes. Maybe longer tops work great on you, good for you!

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  72. Hi Kit...I'm not sure where the idea of wearing a crop top came in here. I suggested for shirts to hit at the mid-hip, which is definitely not across the tummy.

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  73. Hi Audrey, she looks great whatever she wears but advice would be to not wear a top that stops at the widest part of your body which is mid hip. Looking at the stripey top examples, it looks so nice as a longer tunic length and suits most shapes. Whereas the shorter length is other is just 'common' and just looks like jeans and a top instead of a cool fashion outfit like the first one.

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  74. This blog is down to earth, hats off buds available.https://www.facebook.com/bubblegumcasting

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  75. You're crazy. The longer top doesn't look like a "cool fashion outfit" at all. It looks much less put together and a little like she is drowning in her clothing. The second outfit is much more polished. Audrey happens to be quite slim but take it from someone with big hips (not overweight but definitely a pear shape), when I wear long shirts, it just draws attention to my hips sticking out like crazy. A shorter top (not a crop top which would imply that the stomach is visible) looks much better on me. No, I can't fool anyone into thinking I was born with a different shape, but I can do best by the shape I have and a super-long top isn't doing it for anyone.

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  76. Crazy? The longer top is styled in a more feminine shape and not the usual boxy t-shirt top. It is a tunic top and they are worn long not short.

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  77. long your works.keep it up

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  79. Hello Audrey! thank you so much! you're awesome :) greetings from Guatemala :D

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