Last year I was shopping with my mother-in-law, Pat, when I saw it – the perfect little dress. It was more than a casual dress but not quite a cocktail dress – knee length, sleeveless, scoop-neck, in black and white when a little pop of red here and there. I tried on an 8. It was too big! So I tried on a 6. It fit. Good heavens – it was the cutest dress AND I could have it in a size 6. It was my lucky day. And of course, Pat encouraged me to get it.
Except I didn’t exactly think it through. I didn’t sit down in the dress so I didn’t realize that it would ride up allowing the folks to see down the front. I also didn’t think – where in the world would I wear this dress? A year later that dress is in my closet, with the tags still on it.
According to fits.me, clothing returns average 25%. There is a Facebook page called “You have a closet full of clothes but never wear any of it”. An article on ivillage.com had these statistics:
• Ladies own $550 worth of fashion items that have never been worn
• Most women say 20% or more of their closets are full of never-worn items
How can we change these statistics? I think there are two key fit tests to consider when shopping for clothes:
1. The fit on your body. How does the garment look on you? Walk out of the dressing room and take a look at it in one of those three way mirrors. Try and get a glimpse of the backside. Take a look at it in different lights. Make sure the color looks good with your complexion. Make sure it compliments your shape. How does it feel? Can you breathe in it? Sit down. Bend over. Stretch. Carefully and honestly evaluate its comfort. If it is as cute as can be but is incredibly uncomfortable, what are the odds that you will regularly wear it?
2. The fit in your wardrobe and life. If it something like a blouse, sweater, or skirt do you have something to wear with it? Will it require new shoes? Do you already have something similar and if so does it need to be replaced? Do you really need another one? Do you have a place to wear it? (Case in point, Anne Taylor dress above). Finally, check the care label. If it requires hand-washing – are you willing to follow those instructions?
I’d like to say that I’m good at following my own advice when it comes to clothing. I find that I think I need more than I actually do. And if I’d carefully evaluate my purchases, I’d have far fewer long-term pieces with the tags still on.