Tim Gunn Nailed It (Again)!

Here’s an article (and a video here) by Tim Gunn with some salient info beautifully said.  My fav quote here is this:
This is a design failure and not a customer issue. There is no reason larger women can’t look just as fabulous as all other women. The key is the harmonious balance of silhouette, proportion and fit, regardless of size or shape. Designs need to be reconceived, not just sized up; it’s a matter of adjusting proportions. The textile changes, every seam changes. Done right, our clothing can create an optical illusion that helps us look taller and slimmer. Done wrong, and we look worse than if we were naked.
This is what I have done for my clients for decades – I’ve done it for one differently-shaped client after another. Not a one of them were exactly the same, and they had large figure problems.
Customers for years have felt that they have to loose weight to fit into what’s available, and they do. That’s what the industry tells us and makes us feel horrible. I’m not out of shape (I ride my bike 3 times a week), but I am short and carry more weight on my bottom, and to get something that fits my bottom, would be huge on my top. This is a design failure, unless I sew for myself.
When I first started sewing, I wasn’t all that irregularly shaped as I am into my 6th decade of life.  But I was always short.  There wasn’t anything I could do about that, but at that I couldn’t find anything to wear, or not much.  And I had trouble finding what I wanted.  It wasn’t available.  So after one frustrating trip to stores after another, I thought, dang I can learn to do this, and did.
Since that moment I have found that it’s not only easier, but a lot better (quality wise) to make my own clothes.   But here’s the kicker….in those 6 decades, my shape has changed, and so has the shape of my clothing.  I don’t look sloppy or ill-fitted because my clothes are designed for my shape and as a result, even though my figure is anything close to model perfect, because they are in proportion to and designed for my shape, size and style, I look like I haven’t gained weight or have any figure problems and let me tell you that I do have a lot of figure problems.
But reading through the rest of the article  is really slashing the RTW industry.   Not only do certain companies not want to carry these sizes (saying that it’s too expensive to produce or too time-consuming and difficult to fit something other than skin and bones), but they don’t want these people as customers.  Imagine having so many customers that you can tell certain people to fluff off.
And finally Tim’s salient words that this isn’t a customer problem (like the customer needs to loose weight to wear certain clothes), Tim says it’s a design problem, because everyone can look good if the fit, proportion and design is right.  The trick is how to do that. And it’s no wonder women of ALL sizes don’t know how to do this, cause with the likes of Abercrombie and Fitch and Lululemon telling people they need to loose weigh instead of designing clothes for plus size or fuller or normal figures.
I’m with Tim.  I’ve done this for years for my clients and not only do I know it can be done, I’ve seen it over and over and over again.  There are some clear guidelines and clear steps to take to get you on the path to fitting yourself and looking really good in clothes that fit – no matter what shape you are.  This isn’t brain surgery, it’s working with steps and rules that aren’t that hard to learn and are a joy to use, because they work.  Now if you’re expecting to look like you’ve lost 50 lbs., that ain’t ever going to happen.  If you’re want to look responsible and professional – and who doesn’t even if you are retired and not working any more – and comfortable all at the same time, you can do that.
Be a revolutionary and try something that works – even if the stores don’t want you, there are lots of options out there.






  1. I love you. Thank you. I can’t wait to really learn fit.

  2. Loose is the opposite of tight – Lose is the opposite of find

    • Actually there are degrees in here…loose is at one end of the spectrum and tight is at the other, and in between are degrees of fit, which, (when you are making your own clothes) you can custom down to the nth degree and can look like a million bucks. For example, I love my waist with less ease and my hips with a lot of ease, so that means I can grade up and down the scale between loose and tight to what I like.

  3. If you haven’t watched movie The dressmaker, you should.

  4. This is why I love you Claire! We live in a world filled with so much delusion and outright lies based on marketing when reality is so much better, easier and more satisfying. No woman stays the same shape all her life, why should her clothing? Dressmaking is worth it!

    • Exactly – what really galls me is that this misinformation is presented is such a way as to make it look like the truth, smell like the truth and act like the truth, but it isn’t the truth. We look back at the 50’s when Marilyn Monroe was a size 10 and Jane Russel was a size 12 and today that would be considered fat! The problem is that fitting more than bones and skin (which is about all designers want to fit today) is hard – there’s a third (muscles) and fourth (fat) variable and that gets to be too many variables that are set by genes that designers just don’t want to have to worry with. When dress-making makes you look good, feel good and act good (and that doesn’t count how good you will be on the inside because you have a normal shape!!!!)

  5. Thank you Tim and Claire!

  6. This is what I’ve been thinking!

    Can you point me where to go, to learn how to put proportion, silhouette, fit and ease together to make flattering garments? I am no-where near you unfortunately! I know there are a lot of books on what flatters, but I’m wondering what you have found to be good?

    • I share tidbits here, and if you like you can subscribe to my freebie weekly email (There’s a sign up just to the right of the blog here on this page).

      At the bottom of each post, it is a link to subscribing to my newsletter. This is an investment into your sewing ability but also knowledge that I have garnered over 50 years of designing and sewing high-fashion clothing for my clients which were all different shapes, sizes and styles – this includes proportioning for them fashion that fit their shape and size.

      This is why I say “Tim Gunn Nailed It” because that’s EXACTLY what I’ve been doing for my clients, and now teaching to my students. I’ve seen it done over and over again, and believe it or not the most amazing thing is when I get a phone call from my clients after their event saying how comfortable and good they looked, as if this was not only impossible, but could never happen in a million years. The RTW industry just doesn’t want to do it, therefore they tell folks it can’t be done, when people who have sewn for years, know that is false. So does Tim Gunn. Anyone who’s done designing for any period of time, knows it can be done. Even the couture designers of the famous design houses in Europe know it can be done. Do you think all their clients are as thin as Cara Delevingne?

      Not likely. The grande dames that can afford his clothing are more shaped like this:

      rather like the runway model, and this is what Tim and I both know. That these figures are fitted all the time by high-end designers.

      Truthfully there are others who sew who know this as well. Here’s the first winner of the Great British Sewing Bee:

      And it’s pretty obvious that this gal knows how to look well, and she is definitely NOT perfectly shaped. This is what Tim and I know so well. I mean if you need more proof, look at Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, leaders of state like Angela Merkel and Margaret Thatcher, also other professionals who must look responsible but modern. These are great resources for not only proof that women of all shapes and sizes can be fit and look good, but for inspiration of how this is done.

      This isn’t something easy or that you learn overnight. This is THE major reason the experience Alison Smith won the Great British Sewing Bee, because she had more experience than the other contestants in the program. It’s the practice and finding instruction. As far as a book, I do not know of one that deals specifically with sewing, fitting and fashion. THAT’S the big reason I keep this blog and do my sewing newsletter. I’m so fortunate that I have been able to do this for myself (over 50 years my body has changed shapes many times!), and I simply figured everyone knew that you could look good in clothing, but it didn’t register with me till I started sewing for a lot of my grandmother clients who complain that not only is there nothing available, but they suspect that there’s not much that I could make to allow them to feel comfortable and yet look good at the same time. Pretty soon word got out and I had a lot of these ladies coming to me when I was doing their daughter’s or grand-daughter’s gown. They saw the process I went through to make sure the bride was beautiful and they wanted that for themselves.

      This is a long, drawn-out answer to your question, but I want you to know that you can be fit and you can be comfortable and you can look good all at the same time. So know that you can be fit, comfortable and look smashing all together!

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