Why Don't Clothes Fit Me Properly?

Posted by Jen Anderson on

Why Don't Clothes Fit Me Properly?

I hear it over and over again. "I carry my weight in weird spots." "My body has been frumpy since I had kids." "Clothes don't look good on me." Longtime readers have already guessed how hard it is for me not to grab these people and take them shopping. It's not that I think everyone should be super enthusiastic about clothes. It's that I know what it's like to dread facing the closet every morning and how unnecessary it is.


OK, but clothes don't fit me properly. So what's up with that?

Because most designers design clothes for women with hourglass shaped bodies even though they're a very small percentage of the population. You see clothes on hourglass-shaped department store mannequins and expect that outfit to look the same way on you. That's the whole point of mannequins, and yet the clothes may be pulled tight and pinned in the back, and the mannequins aren't shaped like you, and they're really there to make the clothes look good. 

So you keep buying clothes that aren't made for your body shape. You blame your body for not being exactly what the designer had in mind, so you settle for ill fitting clothing.

Maybe you've never gotten the hang of shopping for your actual shape. Or maybe you used to look great in everything, but then your body changed and you keep trying to dress the body you used to have. Or maybe you were so traumatized by the lack of decent plus size clothing options 20 years ago that you don't realize you have options now.



Your body is not inherently frumpy. It just changed. The only people who carry their fat in weird spots had liposuction 25 years ago and then gained weight everywhere except where they were liposucked. We only see certain body types in the media and that makes us think that normal variations in the human form aren't normal.

But my tummy...

Yeah, I know. Woman was never meant to have a flat stomach. If it were, it would be a lot easier to get one. Once we hit 40, we all have a bit of a tummy. Exercise and dieting will not change this. You've done nothing wrong. You just got older. Which beats the alternative.

Pregnancy can also have this effect, and then you have a tiny human being to raise and no time or energy for learning new fashion rules.

We talk about pear shaped women and inverted triangle shaped women and so on as if they don't have the same tummy as apple shaped women. Not all do, but we're not talking about them right now. Your problem with clothes may be that you're a hybrid shape. You may be an apple pear like I am, or an apple inverted triangle, or an apple hourglass. There's no such thing as an apple rectangle because the only thing distinguishing a rectangle from a apple is the tummy.


So what do I do?

Stop wearing anything that's too tight in certain spots and way too big in others. Look at style advice for multiple body shapes to find the bits that apply to you. That means you'll have to take a good long look at your body to assess the situation. Without judgment and without making plans to magically transform your body.

It used to be that all clothing was custom made. Standard sizes are convenient for clothing manufacturers but not for the people who actually wear the clothes. Getting something tailored, or wearing clothes that give you a little extra room in certain areas doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your body.

Check out our other posts about plus size style.

1 Comment

I have a healthy body shape with a BMI of 21, but I’m tall, so nothing fits me properly. Where are the clothes for people shaped like a banana? Everything is made for overweight short people it seems.

—Jan soris,

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