Shopping for an outfit can be nerve-wracking sometimes. Specially when you are shopping online and there are so many options to choose from. To make your shopping dilemma easier I have interviewed Dana Todd, who is the founder and CEO of Balodana– a Chicago-based company designed for professional women who demand stylish clothing that fits both their bodies and their personalities. Here is what she has to say about how to find your perfect fit while shopping.
**Thank you so much, Dana, for the interview. You are amazing!**
How to find your perfect fit:
What are the points we should keep in mind while shopping for new clothes?
Whether you buy your clothing online or shop in a retail store, the fit, quality, and sustainability are primary building blocks of a sophisticated wardrobe. One of the frustrations that led to the creation of Balodana was feeling like we didn’t have an easy way to find high quality, well-fitting clothes because of the mass-manufacturing supply chain limitations.
The first step to an ideal fit is not just knowing your “standard” size, but knowing your measurements. If you’re buying made-to-measure online, this takes away the guesswork and fitting room stress. However, if you do purchase clothing at traditional retailers, you may also wish to examine your favorite pieces to understand your preferred fit. As size and fit can vary widely between brands, be conscious of what garments fit you best. Look for elements that you find comfortable and which make you look your best. Do your favorite jeans have wide legs, a high waist, or a deeper yoke? Shop for pieces that share these traits.
Once you find a piece that fits perfectly, you’ll want it to be sure it lasts. A quality garment will be resistant to regular wear and tear; fabrics made from natural fibers such as linen and wool are preferable for this reason. Your new clothing should also have a sturdy construction that maintains the original shape, and dyes should be fade resistant so that you can enjoy your new favorite outfit for a long time to come.
Finally, seek out brands that embrace transparency in their production process and supply chains. Workers should be paid a living wage, and waste and byproducts limited. This information should not be disguised by “trade secrets,” but should be readily available to conscious consumers, either on the clothing’s label or online. On the Balodana site, you can read the stories about the people who make your clothes, and you can also reach out to them directly to ask questions about fabric sources and other sustainability aspects. Many of our brands are committed to zero-waste production, too.
The simplest way to ensure your wardrobe meets these expectations is to get to know your designers and their product. Even when purchased online, made-to-measure clothing encourages a one-on-one experience with your clothing’s creation. Not only is each piece is crafted to fit your unique measurements, but you also have an opportunity to familiarize yourself with your garment’s construction, from the production and dyeing processes to the maker who creates each stitch.
Suggested read: Thrift Vs. Online Shopping – Which One Is Suitable for You?
What are the best fits for different body shapes? Are there any rules one should follow?
Clothing should feel comfortable and inspire confidence. These are the only “rules” that apply to what you wear. Everyone has at least one feature that they love to show off and others that they prefer to hide. If you want to draw attention to a specific part of your body, choose embellishments such as embroidery, or cuts that show it off. For those areas that you are less than happy with, minimize their appearance by drawing attention elsewhere. For example, a white shirt worn with a dark jacket will draw people’s eyes up to your face because of the framing.
When it comes to an ideal fit, your preference is what is most important. Every body is different, but non-standard bodies face additional difficulties when choosing clothing off the rack. A 30-minute appointment with a tailor opens the door to limitless options, from casual wear to formal attire. They can also help you wear a style that you didn’t think was accessible to your body type, just by making some adjustments in the pattern.
Which “perfect fit” rule one can break while shopping?
There are many factors that go into creating your ideal look, but the most important of these is how your clothing fits. Comfort and a great fit are not mutually exclusive — well-fitting clothes are actually very comfortable.
As tempting as sweats and a tank top maybe, baggy clothing may give the impression that the wearer doesn’t care about their appearance. No matter what your body type, clothing should follow and accentuate your curves; it doesn’t need to be skin-tight, but hiding your body under billowing fabric only makes you appear larger. There is no such thing as one size fits all, no matter what the label says. If it fits everyone, it probably flatters no one.
A lot of women who are in transition with their weight think they can’t buy something form-fitting, but that’s just not true! If you ask, most tailors will build in some additional fabric in a fitted suit jacket or skirt, for example, to allow you to tweak it over time to always fit you perfectly. Committing to a sustainable lifestyle means you think about owning something for a long time, and you’ll find that your cost per wear goes down because you’re actually wearing it more than your other items.
How can someone get the most of online shopping and find the best fit for them?
When it comes to purchasing online, honesty with yourself and your designer is the key to getting the most out of your experience. Know what you like and what doesn’t and doesn’t work for you. If you are purchasing custom clothing, arm yourself with accurate measurements from your tailor. (You can make a free profile at Balodana.com to save your measurements so you’ll always have them on your phone.)
Also, don’t be afraid to express a particular need or desire. For example, if a hemline is too short for your comfort, inquire if the design can be made in your preferred length. If you prefer your tops to be a bit looser, ask them to add a specific amount more to the chest and belly measurements. On Balodana, you can even upload photos so that the tailor can clearly see how you are shaped and can work to flatter your body.
Another benefit of shopping online is having answers to your questions readily available to you. The quality of the workmanship and sustainability of the product should be apparent, either on the website or through customer service.
Last but not least, share a story/advice/personal experience regarding the “perfect fit” with the readers of Sifa’s Corner.
I wore suits throughout my career, bought off the rack and tailored down to fit me. I always thought I looked good but I cringe now when I see pictures of me in one of my old suits which didn’t flatter my body much (and I was a lot slimmer and firmer back then, so it makes me even sadder that I didn’t know how to show my assets better!) Even with tailoring, they were always a bit large in the shoulder, or boxy in the middle, or droopy in the butt.
I’m about 5’5” and 155 pounds, and I carry a lot of my weight in my middle now that I’m 54. I recently purchased a custom made suit from one of our Romanian designers, Zaza. It’s made of floral chintz which is a kind of heavy textured cotton like you might see in furniture coverings, which gives it structure and strength, and it’s lined in pure silk. I hadn’t given the owner of Zaza much input other than sending her my measurements and my pictures and told her to make me look great. It was so beautiful when I pulled it out, but when I put it on I was a little startled to find that it was quite snug! It buttoned just fine, and the high waisted skirt zipped easily too but I had just never worn anything like it that hugged my curves so much.
I thought, oh no, it’s the wrong size for me! I mentioned it to the tailor and she laughed and told me it’s a European cut – women wear their clothing much more closely fitted in Europe. She mentioned also that the lining was cut with some looseness to allow full movement of my body when wearing it. So I gave it another try. Sure enough, after wearing it for just an hour I could feel it molding perfectly to my body and it really was incredibly comfortable to wear. And wow do I turn heads when I wear it! I no longer feel frumpy or boring in a suit, I feel really powerful and sexy.
I sneer at all my other non-custom suits now, they simply won’t do anymore.
Dana is the Founder and CEO of Balodana. Balodana is a Chicago-based company designed for professional women who demand stylish clothing that fits both their bodies and their personalities, and who care about the long-term effects of fast fashion on the environment. Their solution is an online department store where every item is made-on-demand, precisely to your body measurements. It’s “Amazon for made-to-measure”! Their curated selection of expert designer-dressmakers are primarily from Europe, US, and Canada, and create clothing for women of all shapes in a range of prices and styles. Custom made garments start as low as $50, and 80% of the item price goes to the maker – not to markup. This allows for higher garment quality and fairer labor practices. Customers are encouraged to create a relationship with the designers and makers, through a robust communication system and a centralized measurement and style profile. Additionally, Balodana provides concierge styling support to explore new styles that fit and flatter.
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