What Makes Clothing A “Good Fit”

In fashion and especially during product development, we talk alot about fit and making sure designs fit well. We all agree that fit is important and can make or break the success of a design, but what even is a good fit? And, how do you know when you’ve achieved it? 


To start with, I think good fit means that the finished look achieves what the designer intended. If the design is intended to be a fitted jacket and it turns out with droopy shoulders and a boxy waist, then it’s not a good fit. Whereas, if the design was intended to be a slouchy, oversized jacket, then the looser fit might be just fine. To be a good fit, the garment needs to look like the designer’s vision for the piece. 


On the technical side, a good fit means that the shape and proportions of the garment match those of the body wearing it. If there is a bunch of excess fabric, drag lines, or wrinkles in places that should be smooth, then it is not a good fit. I see this issue alot in hard-to-fit curvy places like armholes, bust, pant rises, and back waists. Unless the design has ruching or other design details in those areas, the garment should lay smoothly without pulling or gaping. 


A good fit not only means that the garment visually looks as intended, but it also means that there is room for movement. I’m not just talking about ease, but also how the pattern is cut to allow for movement. Clothing is meant to be worn and needs to fit our lifestyle and activities. It’s not much use to have an outfit that looks pretty on a hanger or mannequin but isn’t wearable. That’s just art, not fashion. 

A well-fitting garment will allow you to move around throughout your day comfortably without feeling constricted. If you feel the need to adjust the garment constantly because it is twisting, riding up, or pulling down, then the fit isn’t good. If the garment is digging in, chafing, or causing irritation against your skin as you are moving and wearing it, that obviously isn’t a good fit either. This is why it is so important to have your fit model wear the samples around outside of the fitting. Some fit problems aren’t immediately obvious from a static pose.


Proportions are also important for good fit. I think well-fitting garments should flatter the bodies that will be wearing them. Part of this falls on the designer and part on the patternmaker and grader. The designer has control over the proportions of the design and where the details and style lines are placed within the design. The patternmaker has control over the proportions of the garment compared to the body to make sure the style lines do fall in the right places. A pattern grader has control over how the proportions of the design change with size as the body grows larger or smaller. To truly be a good fit, the proportions must be right across all sizes.

In my opinion, what all these criteria of a good fit – design, shape, movement, proportions – boil down to at the end of the day is confidence. A good fit gives the wearer confidence in their body, attitude, and actions. When a garment fits, it flatters the body instead of hiding it or trying to force it into a shape that it’s not. When a garment fits, the clothes don’t leave you wondering whether it’s your body or the clothes that are a problem. When a garment fits, it doesn’t distract you from what you’re doing, but instead keeps you comfortable. 

When good fit comes together like this, the confidence it brings is visible. As a patternmaker, I love seeing women’s faces light up when they try on a garment that fits them well. Ultimately, good fit is what makes the wearer feel their best.


Jeff Carbine

10:12 pm November 1, 2021

I loved it when you said that in fashion and especially during product development, we talk a lot about fit and making sure designs fit well. My sister is planning to open a boutique. I will share this post with her as her guide in looking for the best supplier of designer clothing in her new boutique.

Leave a Reply