We recently started a conversation on Real Women and fashion with Sara’s post “Too Fat For Fashion,” and your response has been lively, evocative and challenging. As we prepared to launch an extended ready-to-wear Basics section on our Alabama Chanin website, we found ourselves thinking more carefully about how our pieces fit different shapes, how they can be adjusted and streamlined for individual figures, and how many of our pieces flatter many body types.
Start with the material. By using 100% organic cotton jersey, we have given our collection a head start on both comfort and individualized fit. Jersey, by nature, has a generous stretch, but also memory. One member on our Alabama Chanin team loves the Alabama Corset because when she hangs it up after wearing she can still see the silhouette of her body in the fabric. It makes her feel as though the top was made especially for her.
Every Alabama Chanin piece is cut with the grain of the fabric running up and down – so it works like an accordion – stretching left to right, not top to bottom, and ultimately molding to your body. The more you wear a garment, the better it fits.
We are not an extensive team, but we are many different body types, each of us with a favorite style for one single reason; we like the way the garment flatters our figure, and makes us feel that we look the way we think we should. I am substantially larger than the typical model and I wear our clothes every day.
One studio member loves the Basic Tank Top because it’s fitted at the waist and flares out over the hip, (it’s cut a little longer than our other tops) accentuating her best assets. The top creates a proportional and flattering look. Another staff member, who is taller and wider than most women, likes the Alabama A-line Sweater for its generous flare – she actually took it in to reduce some of the fullness. She says it’s comfortable and flattering, hiding her midsection (or “problem areas,” to quote her), but also favors the V-neck detail because it accentuates her chest and brings attention to her face.
A lot of women who come to our workshops tell me they prefer sleeves. The Fitted Cap SleeveT-shirt, Fitted Long Sleeve T-shirt, Alabama A-line Sweater, Long Sleeve Pullover, and jackets have proven popular for those with aging arms. Our patterns are easily adjustable and we often help workshop attendees and custom clients modify the garment to allow more room under the arm.
Every Alabama Chanin garment can effectively be made as a Basic – an item that can be worn every day, over and over, seamlessly integrating into every wardrobe. But some garments lend themselves more easily to certain body types. Most of our fitted dresses and t-shirts, like the Basic Tank Top with its cinched waist and longer length, are flattering styles for bottom-heavy figures with smaller tops. The Pleated Skirt, with a full flare, compliments pear shaped bodies. The Basic Wrap Skirt, essentially a classic A-Line style, works well with more narrow hips.
The Alabama A-line Sweater, Alabama A-line Dress, and Long Sleeve Pullover are great for apple shapes because of their generous fit through the waist. The Long Sleeve T-Shirt Tunic is made with six panels and princess seams, combining a fitted top with a slightly flared hemline that hits just below the hip, accentuating womanly curves. The Alabama Corset, a very fitted piece that tapers at the waist, has a shorter length than our other tops and is particularly flattering on women with a short waist as all the seam lines come together in the middle front, giving a look of elongation. It’s also a good look for women wanting to emphasize their chest.
I’m just touching on a few of our Basics, but I’ve watched all body types fit beautifully into our collection over the years. Sometimes you think a fit is going to be totally wrong on a person, but then she puts on and it’s quite simply elegant and lovely. You just have to find the perfect garment for you— and you’ll know it when you find it.