The Fit Model and You

Hang out around any group of women of pretty much any size long enough, and chances are that they will start talking about their problems with finding clothes that fit. The complaints vary, depending on body shape and size; pants and sleeves too long or too short, torsos of strange lengths, hips too wide or too narrow. Indeed, one generally comes to the conclusion that no one can find clothes that fit, anywhere, not even the people generally considered to be of a socially acceptable size, the people you might expect to be able to find clothing effortlessly, to be able to wear off the rack fashions, say.

It’s time to meet the fit model.

Fashion designers and clothing manufacturers do, despite popular belief, design their clothes for real people. They actually fit them on real people, even. Those people are called fit models, and they are selected on the basis of having body types considered ‘average,’ except that, well, the thing about averages is that they are a mixture of everything, and if there’s one thing we know about clothes, it’s that ‘one size fits all’ is a blatant lie, and the same holds true for the fit model.

If you have a body exactly like a fit model, off the rack clothes will fit like they are tailored for you, which they pretty much were, and you will be the envy of everyone. Now, I don’t resent fit models. I do think it’s a good idea to fit and try on clothing using actual human beings at some point during the development process and I understand the desire to use people of similar size and shape, to keep sizing and fitting relatively consistent across a clothing line. You may note, for example, that clothes from some companies fit better than others, and you can thank their fit models for that; their bodies are a tad closer to yours than those of the fit models for that other manufacturer over there.

The problem with relying on fit models is the refusal, or inability, to make adjustments. I often encounter the attitude that to make clothing smaller than the size worn by the fit model, you just trim down, and to make it larger, you trim up. Again, for people who share a body type with the fit model, that works fine. But for those who do not, it doesn’t help in the least, because bodies are not just different sizes, but different shapes. Some fat women, for example, have very large breasts and upper chests, but may have smaller legs. Some have big hips, thighs, and butts. Others do not. Broad shoulders. Narrow shoulders. Short legs. Short torsos. The mix is endless and it goes on and on.

No manufacturer can make clothing that will fit everyone and look flattering, because of the huge variance in body sizes. What would be nice is seeing more manufacturers considering this issue and trying to branch out. The place I most commonly see this is in jeans; several companies now are making fitted jeans intended for different body types, like women with relatively straight bodies versus women with big hips, and so forth. The primary focus here is, unfortunately, on women’s bodies; men also have differing body types and they aren’t usually accommodated in clothing, and then of course you have people who are neither male nor female, and we drift in the abyss, straggling through the racks after everyone’s gone and trying to find something that meets our needs, that we like, something that possibly makes us feel better about our bodies, something that is sometimes an uphill battle.

How delightful it would be to see manufacturers thinking about the fact that it’s possible to have big breasts, but a narrow waist, say. If I want to wear a shirt I can comfortably button over my chest and breathe in, it will hang like a sack around my waist and hips, with great billows of fabric, unless I can motivate myself into calling the seamstress and having it fitted. If it fits comfortably on my lower torso, the top is constantly threatening to explode and there’s a risk of a wardrobe malfunction.

It seems like there should be a way to accomplish this, by splitting lines into several general body types, and providing people with a wider range of clothing options. People who really hate shopping might actually come to enjoy it if they could shop for clothes that actually fit them, that look good, that feel comfortable, that flatter, that are enjoyable and pleasant to wear. Clothes can be fun, but right now, they’re primarily fun for people with bodies like fit models, and I’d rather make them fun for all of us.

This becomes an acute problem for fatties; the idea of making things like ‘curvy’ and ‘straight’ jeans for women sizes 10 and under seems to be catching on, for example, as is the idea of ┬ámaking busty tees, and so forth.

There is considerable resistance, in the fashion community, to making clothes that look flattering on fat women in particular. Rather than taking the challenge of designing fashionable clothing for fatties, designers look down their noses. They may flat out refuse to design for fat people, or they make a big stink about it, or they charge a fat tax on their clothing, or they say they don’t want to ‘glamourise fat,’ because of course, fat is something unglamourous and disgusting and it should be hidden away and locked tightly in shapewear and never looked at; fat people cannot wear flattering clothing because they have nothing to flatter! Evidently.

This fat hatred needs to stop, because we fatties have cash monies we would like to spend, and naked bodies we want to clothe, and we are ready to buy some damn clothes already, clothes that fit, clothes that look good, clothes that admit that fat people, rather than all being blob-shaped, actually come in an array of shapes, and that we all have our own personal taste and sense of style, to boot.