No style expert worth her salt will openly condone wearing clothes that don’t fit. But THIS style expert knows that weight fluctuates, hand-me-downs happen, and occasionally a bargain lands in your lap that is so bargainous you’re willing to overlook slightly imperfect fit. (Emphasis on the slightly, I hope.) The occasional too-sheer blouse will find its way into your closet, too, as will the occasional shrunk-in-the-wash garment. So here are a few work-arounds I use when facing down challenging clothes:
Belts, vests, and blazers for upper body looseness
Most of you are likely aware that a belt can cinch a slightly loose waistline, but vests and blazers are great alternatives for garments that fit loosely through the entire bodice. This tie-dyed swing dress is voluminous on its own, but my harness belt works wonders at making it look appropriately sized.
PITFALLS: Any of these may cause bunching, especially if you’re attempting to cinch a garment that is TOO loose. Don’t expect to throw a vest over a blouse that is four sizes too big and have it magically transform into a garment that fits.
Layers for too-small garments
Layering is a good option for any imperfectly-fitting garment, as more garments in a mix mean that the eye has more to take in and less opportunity to notice flaws. But shrunken or small garments work best as under-layers. This top is, sadly, quite tight on me. But throw on a vest and scarf and no one’s the wiser.
PITFALLS: Sometimes someone IS the wiser. If you’re uncomfortable with how small an item is, or how tightly it fits, make sure it’s well buried in your outfit. Your self-consciousness about it may cause you to fidget, which will draw attention to it. Also be sure to stick to slightly small garments, and avoid anything that cuts off circulation.
French cuffs for long, slim pants
I’m calling these “French cuffs” because the DAY I first tried this trick for myself, Garance did a post in which she called ’em French cuffs. Simply turn excess pant leg inside the leg opening, stuff it up in there and make sure it’s sitting flat against the pant leg wall. This trick only works with skinny or slim-fitting pants, in my experience, but it can save you on hemming.
PITFALLS: If you try this with a supple fabric, the cuff may come undone as you walk. In addition to being best suited to slim pants, this technique is really ideal for jeans and chinos.
Rolled cuffs for short or long sleeves
Sometimes a shirt or jacket fits fine through the torso, but the sleeves are clearly meant for someone with arms far shorter or longer than your own. I’d wager that sleeve length is one of the hardest fits to nail since a few centimeters of cloth can transform a shirt from fab to laughable. You can sometimes distract from too-short sleeves by adding some bracelets to each arm, but a better bet is to roll your sleeves. For button-downs, undo the cuffs and roll twice for a 3/4-sleeve fit. Long-sleeved knits and sweaters can be pushed up, but they’re less likely to stay put.
PITFALLS: This is a casual look! Most law offices will not condone rolled sleeves.
Contrasting or nude underlayers for sheers
This blouse was far too sheer to be worn alone, and looked slightly odd with a nude cami, so I opted for a column of black underneath. Nude camisoles and other under-layers are the a great choice for making sheer garments wearable, but doing an outer layer like cardigan or jacket
PITFALLS: This isn’t a pitfall, per se, but obviously you can’t throw a blazer over any sheer garment and expect it to look fantastic.
Fashion tape for all manner of fit adjustments
I’ve sung the praises of fashion tape loudly and often, but I can’t do a post on making unruly garments work without giving it a mention. It’ll keep a loose belt end in place, secure a loose wrap top or dress, seal a button-down shirt at the placket, or in the case of the above outfit, tack down a floppy collar.
PITFALLS: Fashion tape is meant to be temporary. That means that by 3 p.m. or so, you might start coming unstuck. Bring backup tape, and don’t expect this to be a permanent solution!