How to read a garment while still on the hanger: saving time in the dressing room.
We know how to read our food labels. We know that high fat can equal flavor, and that a long list of ingredients is usually a sign of poor quality nutrition. You can apply the same quick overview techniques to reading an item on a hanger. I start shopping with my eyes, looking at color, basic shape – tunic length or crop tops are pretty easy to discern but fabric properties go well beyond color.
The way a garment feels on you is first determined by its make up. The friction between skin and cloth can make or break a design. Once you have discovered silk and cashmere, it’s hard to go back to acrylic and polyester. The most deceiving weaves of fabric are knits. While fabric technology is improving, nothing beats nature when it comes to breathability and longevity.
After all, it was designed to last a lifetime in its natural form.
Take the time to analyze the feel of each garment. Then go the extra mile and read the label. A knit made of more-natural-fibers-than-not will feel amazing against your skin. The synthetic materials that can be blended with natural fiber will provide stretch and bounce back to help the knit maintain its form. Remember that knits require maintenance. Certain yarns will naturally pill faster than others: rabbit fur that is woven into yarn will pill quickly, but I feel that the luxury of having soft fur against your skin is worth the seasonal maintenance of shaving that particular knit.
Once you learn what material you love to wear, it’s time to focus on the tailoring that flatters you best. Having an understanding of shoulder seams, darts, and hem lines will help you read the garment before you even put it on your body. Clothes are designed to flatter you, but not all in the same way. Playing with proportions and accent lines can help to achieve that ideal hour glass figure. Great tailoring and design helps us highlight our best features and fake the ones we wish we had.
Lastly, be smarter than your label. The size number on the tag does not determine your true size or self-worth. I repeat: the size number on the tag does not determine your true size or self-worth! I admire designers and labels that shun vanity sizing. Clothes that truly fit and flatter will always make you look and feel better than the tag that you know is lying.
“Vanity sizing works because, deep down, we’re all a little vain.” – Elaina Dockterman “Inside the fight to take back the fitting room”
As you learn to practice each of these lessons, you will waste less and less time with “No’s” in the dressing room. It you put it on and you LOVE it, you should buy it. If not, don’t waste your time or money. If you put it on and it needs tailoring, factor that into your total cost and be promise yourself that you wont wear it till it has been altered.
My clients have learned to channel their “Inner Kathryn”, love it or leave it right there in the dressing the room.