Meet The 7 People Making Your Clothing Fit Better

Photo: Courtesy of The Reformation.
While our bodies come in an infinite range of sizes, heights, shapes, and dimensions, clothing — for the most part — comes in just a few. Because it's more cost-efficient and less labor-intensive, manufacturers tend to ship garments sized to one ideal body shape, and let us duke it out in dressing rooms and tailoring appointments to make the clothes actually fit. And while most of us wish a fairy would wave her wand and find us the clothes that suit us perfectly — in our preferred styles, no alterations or mortgage-sized price tags necessary — well, she doesn’t exist. But there are a few sensible people with sensible solutions to your nothing-fits-me problems who actually do.

We spoke with the stylists, designers, and entrepreneurs who are pioneering new technologies, research methods, and fits to learn how they’re helping women who don’t have dress-form bodies find clothes.
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Photo: Courtesy of Levi's.
A Better-Fitting Jean
Levi’s chief product officer Karyn Hillman is fresh off an around-the-world trek that has helped the 162-year-old company rethink its women’s styles for the first time since 1934, when it first launched jeans for women. The team conducted hundreds of interviews and did over 60,000 “body scans” (detailed measurement-taking) to create a more comfortable jean — one that takes inspiration from the mold-to-your-body athleisure movement, which has been taking a bigger and bigger bite out of the denim market.

“Our design, development, and merchandising teams traveled the world and met with real women in 10 cities around the globe: Paris, Barcelona, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Hamburg, Stockholm, Beijing, Tokyo, Chicago, and San Francisco,” explains Hillman. “We tried on, tested, conversed, went home, and tweaked. Then, we went back to all of these same cities and met with new fans and started over again.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Levi's.
The new-and-improved Levi’s jeans (seen here on spokesmodel Alicia Keys) involve larger back pockets for a more flattering fit, as well as new, stretchier fabrics that may remind you of your yoga pants.

“During our workshops around the globe, when women were trying on our jeans, they would react to the fabric immediately. It became clear to us that the feel and performance of the fabric were really important to them — we heard it again and again,” says Hillman. “We have a range of ‘stretchability’ in these fabrics, from 15% to 80%. We use several different types of yarns to create fabrics that are soft, have the right amount of stretch, and high recovery that look and feel amazing.”
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Photo: Courtesy of 7 For All Mankind.
Flares For Average-Height Women
In its own attempt to democratize offerings, 7 For All Mankind — which already offers a range of petite styles — is targeting an underserved demographic: women of average height. Its new Tailorless line features flares for the non-gazelles (or non-Giseles) among us.

“The irony is that the premium denim industry offers flared jeans for women with mile-long legs or they make styles that are specifically for ‘petites,’” explains Peggi Jewell, the brand's vice president of design and merchandising. But the industry-standard inseam is 35 inches, which is designed for a woman who is 5-foot-9. The average height of a woman in the U.S.? It's 5'4" to 5'5" (hi there). Because of that, Jewell says, “we were making most women hem their jeans and lose the shape at the bottom.”
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Photo: Courtesy of 7 For All Mankind.
Why focus on flares? It’s the hardest style to tailor, says Jewell. “Due to their exaggerated silhouette and dramatic leg opening, flares are the [easiest] to mess up when altering.”

Tailorless will soon extend beyond the '70s standby. Jewell says the brand is looking at ankle and cropped lengths in straight-leg, skinny, and boot-cut styles. And if you do need more help in achieving the best fit, all of its stores provide onsite tailoring.
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Photo: Courtesy of Loft.
Perfecting Petite
Even if you’re average height, you might still be petite. That you have to be short is a myth that Loft has been trying to debunk — and as a standout among its competitors, it’s doing an impressive amount of work in the petite market, with a specially designated section in each of its stores.

“Petite doesn't just mean short and slim,” says Amanda Kraemer, Loft’s style director. “After taking the Loft Petites Quiz, many women discover more of us are actually petite than we first realize. For example, I discovered I'm 'petite on top.' That simply means I have a short torso compared to my bottom half.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Loft.
To solve petite problems with style and fit, Loft offers features such as “sure-fit shoulders” (tweaked shoulders and necklines for a proportional, more flattering fit), tailored waistlines, shortened sleeves, adjusted armholes, “sized-right” (shrunken) silhouettes, and scaled-down prints and patterns, explains Kraemer.
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Photo: Celeste Sloman/The Reformation.
Support For Your Girls
The big-boobed among us often have a hard time finding tops that fit. That’s why Reformation founder and CEO Yael Aflalo created the I’m Up Here collection, which is full of dresses, tops, and bodysuits with V-cuts and off-the-shoulder styles — designed just for women with full-C to DD cups.

“The important thing we thought about here was that they're not trying to show too much cleavage, but they're also not trying to be too covered up,” Aflalo says. “We called it 'I'm Up Here' because we wanted women to have clothes that make them feel sexy, but not overexposed.”
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Photo: Courtesy of The Reformation.
Aflalo had an obvious starting point: her friends. “A lot of my friends have a D or DD cup, and they were always complaining that they couldn't wear Reformation,” she says. And she went back to them to test the products: “I went to all the girls with big boobs, and I made them look at the site and tell me what they wish they could wear. That's exactly how I chose the styles — from what they wanted.”

When designing or styling for women with bigger breasts, Aflalo says she keeps in mind that crewnecks and deep-V cuts don’t work, and neither does anything too baggy. It needs to be somewhere in-between — “a nice V-neck or a scoop neck.” She adds: “Everything has to have a waist. And they usually need a bra for support, so something to hide bra straps.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Universal Standard.
Destroying The Muumuu Stereotype
Plus-size women may not always struggle to find clothes that fit, but they have a notoriously difficult time finding on-trend, attractive ones. Alexandra Waldman and Polina Veksler seem to understand this intuitively. Their company, Universal Standard, makes the types of easy, beautiful basics — in sizes 10 to 28 — you could wear anywhere, year-round. They don’t think of Universal Standard as a plus-size brand per se, but rather as a fashion brand — in fact, their slogan is “Style liberty for all.” After all, 67% of U.S. women wear a size 14 and above.

Waldman — a former fashion journalist who wears size 18 clothes herself — says the idea started when she "was buying things and altering them, and coveting what people in straight sizes were wearing." Finally, she says: "It got to the point where I really just wanted to change that.” So she decided to make the types of clothes she wanted to wear.
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Photo: Courtesy of Universal Standard.
Veksler — a size 2 — brought a perspective that was different, but equally crucial. “We saw this great divide between what was available in straight sizes versus larger sizes,” she says. “From a business perspective, we saw a tremendous demand and a lack of supply, specifically as it refers to the more modern, stylish, minimalistic, and comfortable pieces. There is quality and fabric that isn’t available to women above a size 8 or 12.”

To make the designs fit better, Waldman stresses that it’s important to make them “a joy to wear.” A lot of the fabrics have plenty of stretch to accommodate the body, even though the designs may not look stretchy. “We develop all of our own fabrics,” says Waldman. “Some come from Peru, others from China or India. Our goal was to design a fabric that was comfortable, had quality, and was durable — this means things like pilling resistance, cotton stretch, satin-back crepe that feels good on the skin and has invisible stretch.” From a construction perspective, they built “design devices” into the clothing that made it more comfortable to wear.

The pair keeps the plus-sized consumer in mind in a variety of ways. “We’re conscious about where on the body our garments end, and how they drape at the bottom, so we build them accordingly: We don't make things that cut in a straight line across the middle and are shorter in front than in back,” says Waldman. “We understand that larger women are larger on top as well. We don't want to make it look like your chest is hiking your top up as a consequence of size. We want our clothing to look the way it’s meant to look — nothing pulling or stretching.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Universal Standard.
Waldman adds that she’s always puzzled by the sleeves (or lack thereof) in plus-sized clothing. “So many women prefer to have a little bit of a sleeve, yet when you go into the 'plus-size' department of a store — which is often where they also keep the furniture, unfortunately — you see all this stuff that’s in non-stretch polyester that’s sleeveless,” she says. “So we were mindful to build comfort and wearability into our designs.”

To test-drive the pieces, Waldman and Veksler invite size models into the studio and get their feedback on how things fit. “Bodies vary a lot, and they vary even more once you get to sizes 14 and above,” says Waldman. “The difference between [sizes] 4, 6, and 8 is not tremendous. Once you get to 14, there’s a larger variation in nearly everything, so we wanted to ‘micro-grade’ the pieces — we came up with this term. We actually changed the measures between each size differently, so our difference between small and medium is not the same as between medium and large.”
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Photo: Courtesy of SmartGlamour.
Next-Level Customization
Another alternative for plus-size women, body-positive brand SmartGlamour aims “to offer clothing to anyone who wears women’s clothing, no matter their size, and [allow] it to be customized affordably to take away any fit issues.” The clothes — lots of fun, going-out-ready dresses, skirts, and tops — run in sizes XXS to 6X.

“I want customization and perfect fit to stop being a luxury. By having classic but simple style lines, I can price my pieces at under $100, even though they are ethically handmade,” explains founder and designer Mallorie Carrington.

What makes the pieces so wonderfully customizable is that you can get them tailored for just $5 to $10. For $20, you can get any item fit perfectly to your measurements.
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Photo: Courtesy of SmartGlamour.
“There are no design ‘tricks’ to making clothing for plus-size women,” says Carrington. “It's just math and good craftsmanship… I do not change any element of my designs or clothing when they make the imaginary jump from an XL to a 1X.”

The payoff is not just practical, but emotional. “When I receive emails from women telling me they show my website and clothing to their daughters who are fighting eating disorders — so they can see a positive and accurate representation of women in the media — I know I'm doing something right, and I'm not going to stop,” she adds.