We tend to think that size is a science; that with enough measurements, or the same measurements as someone else, we'll somehow magically finally get things that fit, every time, "true to size". Sadly, as we have all experienced, that is impossible. There are thousands of things that affect the fit of garments, just as there are thousands of differences between our bodies and our personal tastes, and the whole thing combines for unexpected problems. At a shoot earlier this year we took the opportunity to get photographer Paul to show just a few of the fit issues with two models who are quite different in size.
For this shoot we've not used any phototrickery or clips or padding or any of the other shenanigans that happen on shoots when the model and the garment don't quite go together well.
On the left is Jess, on the right, Twig. When we shoot them together in a straight shot, you can see that they are pretty radically different in height, shape and so on, but on a catalogue shoot you'd usually see them without anything to show the scale, and in 3/4 length photo, which tends to reduce the appearance of the differences.
More importantly, they're both wearing KMD size small garments.
Obviously in the case of the Grace Robe I use the term "wearing" in the loosest sense, as Jess couldn't get it over her arms! But let's swap these garments around...
Cross my heart and hope to die, Jess is wearing the same size small Grace Gown as Twig was wearing in the first shot. Twig is wearing the Grace Robe that Jess couldn't get on, with a Karolina Laskowska set (you can see that on my XL bum here) and our Sirena cincher. Twig is petite for a model, so both Grace items end up sweeping the floor.
But the Grace robe and gown are both made from none-stretch fabrics, made in the same factory, made to the same sizing chart, and fitted on the same person during development. Why then does the Grace Gown work on both of them, even though Twig is 5'3 and usually wears a small or extra small, and Jess is 6' and usually wears a medium or large?
There are two reasons; style and cut. The style means that the gown needs to fit at the bust, waist and hip; the robe needs to fit the shoulders and arms and well as the bust and waist. It's very full at the hip so that's not an issue. But it turns out that shoulders and arms are way more tricky than we realised! This presumably explains why most robes go for full sleeves, or cap sleeves, and flexible wrap tops rather than this more fitted style.
I should point out that it does look rather fabulous on many people, including The Lingerie Addict, though!
The robe is straight cut - that is, the yarns in the fabric go straight up and down and side to side.
In the gown, the fabric is cut on the bias, so the yarns go diagonally. This was a common way to make fabrics used in slips and dresses stretchy and cling (somewhat) to the body in the 30's, before lycra/elastane/other stretch fabrics were developed or became common. In this case, it means that the small size has enough flexibility to go over my usually XL-wearing hips. Admittedly, I'm short, which helps (otherwise when it stretched that much it would end up halfway up my legs)
Once you start adding lycra to fabrics sizing become more of an approximation, and it's all about what you feel comfortable in really. The stretch fabrics we use for the body of the Star Dress and the Garter Dress really have an amazing amount of flexibility, but the Star Dress has a zip in the side which is rigid, and for that reason some attention needs to be paid on sizing. But again - this is a size S/M, on Jess (and that's a one of a kind 36DD vintage kimono silk bra Karolina made). Twig is wearing the size S/M Garter Dress, which has soft triangle cups that work pretty well for her petite frame.
Let's see if from the back and swapped around.
Again, I promise these are the same garments. Quite apart from anything else we'd all been in the studio for hours and no-one was going to go and fetch anything else, possibly ever again. So Jess is wearing the size S/M Garter Dress and Twig is wearing the size S/M Star Dress.
From the front, you can see that the Star Dress sits lower down on Twig and that Jess is considerably less constrained by fabric in the bust area in the Garter dress than Twig was. But we jumped up and down a bit and nothing fell out, which was slightly surprising. It's amazing what difference an underbust band can make! But obviously some people of either size wouldn't feel personally comfortable in these - there are people with small busts who only want to wear padded garments and people with fuller busts who won't leave bed without an underwire. I'm very lucky to work with both Jess and Twig, neither of whom ever show anything but a cheerful disposition to whatever insane stunt I've suggested to them this time round!
Have you ever had a sizing surprise? Let me know in the comments!