Trend Watch: The Perfect Fit

Jewelry is an exciting part of every fashionable woman’s wardrobe. Because consumers’ approach to apparel can have parallel ramifications in their approach to jewelry, I think it’s worth noting commenting upon what is an increasingly common attitude about dressing. The new mantra: don’t settle for things that don’t fit.

 

Sizes are the bugaboo of women’s fashion, a persistent and pesky problem. Frankly, women’s sizes in clothing are a crap shoot. Sizes vary by designer and the choice of fit model for a particular line. A size 8 is not a size 8 is not a size 8. And yet, sadly, far too many women have been programmed to think they need to buy things that fit right off the rack.

 

The difference between a garment that “sort-of” works and one that is tailored to fit can be amazing, taking years and pounds off the wearer. Perhaps it’s the proliferation and increasing popularity of makeover shows, like Tim Gunn’s new show, that are making consumers receptive on a wider scale to the message that they shouldn’t settle.

 

The desire to have things fit extends to accessories, too. I was struck by the discussion of this in the February 2008 issue of Allure magazine, which photographed Sarah Jessica Parker for its cover. Ms. Parker, both through her own creative personal sense of style and as the lead actress styled by the visionary Patricia Field for the “Sex and the City” series (and the upcoming movie), has launched dozens of trends and made designer shoe brands household names.

 

At a photo shoot, the clothing may be tacked and clipped for a smoother, closer fit (think Bill Murray amusingly portrayed as a celebrity model in “Lost in Translation” with a line of oversized binder clips holding the back of his dinner jacket).

 

Coming to a photo shoot at the fashion magazine, Ms. Parker brought along her own personal tailor! Allure reports: “Because the five-foot-four actress often has trouble fitting into clothing, she brought her tailor, Buick Audra, to the shoot. Audra switched a few buttons on a Henley shirt and took in a black velvet Dolce & Gabbana hat to fit the actress’ head.” The tailor modified the accessories to make them flatter and fit.

 

Items of jewelry are accessories too, of course, and not nearly as easily modified on a temporary basis as soft goods. In photo shoots, necklaces can be arranged to appear longer or shorter so they don’t interfere with necklines. As a consumer, I find this photo shoot practice frustrating, since the magazines typically do not mention the lengths of necklaces pictured and I need to rely on a visual assessment to estimate the length of a necklace.

 

Necklaces wrapped around wrists and worn as bracelets (a frequent editorial trick) can be “fudged” so that it appears that they fit smoothly worn tripled or quadrupled, although in fact, there’s a bit too much necklace to make the style work in real life. What’s worse is seeing the necklace-worn-as-a-bracelet in public, slowly unraveling as the hours pass. There was a memorable example of this unintentionally demonstrated by the host of a red carpet awards show a few years back.

 

Bracelets are even trickier and, of course, are an important fashion trend this season. I am seeing a surprising number of cases where a celebrity is photographed wearing one or more bracelets that don’t fit. They’re too big or too small.

 
                     

There’s nothing to be done about a customer who insists on wearing something that doesn’t fit. But it’s truly not doing any favors to a designer to have his or her bracelets photographed nearly slipping off the hands of the celebrity wearing them, or, at the other end of the spectrum, hugging the wrist so tightly as to appear uncomfortable.

 

Know your customers and your inventory. Know which bracelets will work for those with larger than average or smaller than average wrists. Carry inventory that will work for them, and know which pieces can be easily altered to fit by the addition or removal of links. Include open-back cuffs or hinged bangles in your inventory, which can accommodate a wider range of wrist sizes. For your fashion-savvy customers, it’s only fitting.