In our previous post, we briefly talked about the fit of ready-to-wear garments. In this post, we will discuss this in more detail. Although many people think that ready-to-wear is intended to fit the majority of people, the truth is that ready-to-wear is so poorly conceived in design, material, and construction that it fits no one. While a ready-to-wear garment may appear to be cheap in price, it is cheap because no effort is made to design a proper pattern that would fit a realistic segment of the population.
It is not just people who are at the extremes of sizes (large or small) who have fit problems. Even a person who is physically fit will likely not find anything from ready-to-wear that will fit properly because proportion is never considered. In addition, ready-to-wear lacks proper styling because that would require more time and effort to produce, which is not what ready-to-wear is about. Ready-to-wear is about profit—and that is achieved by cutting everything down from design, material, and construction, and focussing instead on advertising and marketing.
At one time, ready-to-wear offered more fitted garments that were made from woven materials. Garments were more tailored because there were more seams which allowed the garment to shape better around the contours of the body. Tailored garments always require more intricate seaming. So naturally, those garments are going to take more time to develop in terms of the pattern pieces, and in terms of construction.
Today, almost all of ready-to-wear is made from knits, and the vast majority of those knits are of the cheapest quality that can be produced. Furthermore, the number of seams required in knitted garment will be very few, if any. A knitted garment that requires just two seams is going to be a lot cheaper to cut out and construct than a tailored woven garment that consists of six or more pieces. Even at Chinese wages, six seams will cost more in terms of wages and material than two seams. That is why ready-to-wear fits so poorly—the materials are of extremely cheap quality and the number of pieces used are minimal and of very poor design.
The stretchiness of knits does not compensate for a badly designed garment. And when the garment is stretched to its maximum over the bust or hips, for example, the garment will likely ride up as you move because there isn’t enough material to properly contour over the rest of the body. This riding up is especially noticeable when you sit, bend, or walk.
Only a tailored garment will have any chance of fitting better; however, the shape of the pattern pieces matters. And that is where proportion plays a major role. In ready-to-wear woven garments, the proportions that a particular designer has in mind when developing a pattern will likely not be anything like your own. So you will be very hard pressed to find anything in tailored ready-to-wear that will fit properly. And, to some degree, that is why people often choose knits for their garments, thinking that the stretchiness will make up for the lack of exactness in the fit. But as you see from what we are discussing, this thinking is really a circular argument that leads to even cheaper clothes being available in ready-to-wear, since customers are not “raising the bar” when it comes to quality and fit from manufacturers.