Wardrobe 101

Style Glossary: F

Happy day, reader dear!

Yes, this edition of the Style Glossary comes to you courtesy of the letter F! (And she was running a bit late this month. She should have shown up on Saturday, but the Red, White & Blue-ty Bundle post slid into her spot while Ms Style Glossary wasn’t looking!

SO many F style words to choose from this month! Last month I asked you for your thoughts on F words (No, not that F-word!) to include this month and you had all kinds of ideas for me, first and foremost… FIT! Other options were Fashion Week, Fringe, Fiber, Fabric and Fur. Since three is enough to start us off, and Fiber and Fabric would make a great post all of its own, let’s play with Fit, Fringe, and Fur. I have written about Fashion Week (Misnomer, yes, because there are multiple fashion weeks; that’s another story.) in a few other posts, and feel another coming up in the fall.

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Fit

Ahhh. Fit! We know it when we feel it! AND when we don’t! Fit is the number one reason people have unworn clothes in their closets. What is fit? There are a few definitions, but for our purposes today, fit is:

2. The way in which a garment conforms to the figure or part of the body on which it is worn

A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion: Historic and Modern, Mary Brooks Picken

Sounds simple doesn’t it? But getting good fit is so very difficult! May I share a secret? Ready-to-wear clothing isn’t meant to fit. Not properly! Ready-to-wear is designed to fit a fit model. Unless you are that company’s fit, you shouldn’t expect their clothing to fit off the rack. That’s what your tailor or seamstress does! Most of us do not wear custom-made clothes and have become inured to poor fit. This fit failure is relatively recent. For centuries, all clothing was custom made. It wasn’t until after WW2 that ready-to-wear became the default.

Proper fit is a matter of personality combined with style trends and fabric choice. A business suit should fit differently than a sweatsuit, which should fit differently than a wedding gown. It is a sorry state of affairs that the only custom tailored item most women will ever wear is their wedding dress. The clothes we wear daily should be the ones we have tailored to fit! Include alterations in your wardrobe budget.

If it’s not worth altering, it’s not worth buying.

Liz Klebba, Closet Play Image

A fifty dollar pair of trousers tailored to fit you looks like a million bucks. A three hundred dollar trouser that fits poorly looks like you bought it at the big box store.

Fringe

Love it or hate it, fringe is a permatrend that has been showing up everywhere for more than 10 years. I blame it on the never-ending cycle of retro-recycle. You find fringe on the hems and edges of garments, on purses, and in tassel form on jewelry. Fringe is created by cutting into or unravelling the edge of a piece of leather or fabric, or made by twisting fibers into thin, flexible fingers and stitching them onto a facing. (Think upholstery fringe.) Like all style preferences, personality drives love of fringe! Or not. My mother (HIGHLY Classic) despises fringe. I like fringe in the right places, but not when it gets Muppety looking.

NOT my bag…

Note: Many English speakers outside the US use the word fringe where we would say bangs. So if you are overseas and need a trim, it’s your fringe that needs trimming, not your bangs!

Fur

Fur is one textile that has gone from staple for survival to luxury to anathema. Fur is the pelt (or pelts) of animals used for clothing or decorative purposes. Archaeological evidence demonstrates that our ancestors wore fur. Over time, as woven textiles developed and became cheaper and more widely available, and fur more rare, fur became a luxury item. Ermine became associated with royalty. (Which I find amusing since ermine is a stoat–a kind of weasel.) In North America, fur trappers and traders were responsible for much of the exploration and the Western expansion of America, creating tension and conflict along the way. The object of their affection? Beaver. (They took other animals for fur as well, but beaver was the economic engine.)

Genuine fur is no longer the status symbol it used to be. The improvement of man-made or faux furs and animal welfare advocates have been changing the game since the 1960’s. As for now? The negative environmental impact of fake fur (Most are made from petroleum.) may be its own problem. A genuine fur coat is 100% biodegradable. Who knows what status or political statement fur will be making in another 50 years?

How About You?

Do you visit or call on your seamstress or tailor often? Or never? What’s your relationship with fringe? Yes! No. Maybe so? Do you remember fur as a status symbol? Thinking forward the the Letter G, let me know what G style words you might like to hear more about…

Stylishly yours,

4 Comments

  • Andrea Andresen

    Fit is my biggest issue with trousers/pants. Having found one brand which usually fits well(often I don’t even have to hem the trousers), I have become a very loyal customer despite items costing more than what I used to pay. I wear them and enjoy wearing them and they don’t accumulate on my alterations pile.

    • Liz K

      Finding a brand/cut that fits you well is like the finding the Grail! You just keep buying it and hoping and praying they don’t “new and improve” their cut… Great fit is always worth the price!

  • NATALIE L

    Liz, Loved this post. Since loving my animals I have been turned off to real leather. My mother and grandmother both ore and do ear real fur. If my mother passed and left me her furs I ould ear them but I don’t ant to continue the trade in buying a ne fur. I do eat meat and ear leather hich I realize is contadictory. I don’t judge anyone if they choose to ear real fur, it’s just my personnal struggle.

    • Liz K

      I think there are many with the same struggle, Natalie! I can’t imagine buying a genuine fur anymore. I do still own a short jacket from the 1950’s bought at an estate sale when I was in university. It’s a gorgeous jacket and an iconic representation of the era but now I’m not sure that I can bring myself to wear it. I have heard of people donating their furs to animal shelters that use them for wee beasties to cuddle up with. It feels wrong to wear it and equally wrong to leave it hanging unworn.

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