The Myth of Ready-To-Wear

This blog typically addresses challenges that we all have in styling ourselves to look and feel our best in any situation.  This week, we’re going to address a topic that many of my male and female clients logically struggle with in shopping for their particular body types: The Myth of Ready-To-Wear.

Ready-To-Wear, a.k.a. Pret-A-Porter, is a term defined at as follows:

(noun):  clothing made in standard sizes

(adj): (of clothes) not tailored for the intended wearer, of a standard size

RTW is a misleading term that destroys many shoppers’ confidence levels.  The retail industry teaches us that a common size (2 or 8 or 20) should fit your body as the designer intended.  How preposterous!  As the second definition above states, these clothes are NOT tailored for the intended wearer; standard sizes simply enable mass production for higher volume of sales.  Certainly not for higher customer satisfaction.

2010 ANTM contestant Patricia Fiel

It’s also important to understand that designers create garments based on the “easy to dress” body concept considering what is “beautiful” by the designer’s current tastes and formulas based on desired proportions.  Currently, that trend is a tall, lean body with long legs as seen on America’s Next Top Model.  Conversely, in the 1950’s and early 1960’s a curvy, hourglass body was celebrated thanks to movie icons like Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren.  Approximately 46% of women have a pear-shaped body, which means that nearly half of women don’t meet the requirements for either of these popular design eras.

With the budding “Prepster” men’s trend (preppy meets hipster), we’re seeing

Gregory Harris shoots Prepsters for Interview Magazine

skinny jeans with colorful shirts and ties.  If you’re a man over 30 and are wearing skinny jeans, you better have a lean physique — and work in the entertainment or high tech industry.

To further complicate matters, the actual measurements of a Size 10 can differ greatly from label to label.  Labels like Prada and Gucci typically run smaller than GAP.  Many clothes that the average consumer purchases are produced in factories that have very little quality control and one Size 8 may fit differently than another Size 8 in the exact same pant!

Lastly, wearing the right color scheme is more important than you can imagine.  My color consultation addresses what hues are most appropriate for you to look fit and healthy. There are also psychological affects of colors to consider that may influence how you dress for a business meeting, or a date, or a red carpet event.

So let’s wrap up with a few rules of thumb so you feel more confident and relaxed on your next shopping trip:

1.  Add alterations fees to your shopping budget.  Just assume that any shirt, pant, dress, etc. will need tailoring to fit your silhouette.  This also means that you shouldn’t wait until the day of or before an event to shop for it, if possible.  Give yourself a week so you can tailor it, try it on, and make adjustments as needed.

2.  Fit matters, size does not.  Some folks get caught up in the size to the point of passing up excellent clothing options because they refuse to even try the next size up. What a shame!  Fit is king. Sizes are merely guidelines to use as a starting point and then you move along from there. Get a body style analysis (which results in a handy shopping guide) to understand which cuts, textures, and styles best suit you.

3.  Choose colors that best match your personal color scheme and are appropriate for the situation and your age.  You’ll look more radiant, convey the intended message, and it well help you develop a color style that you can call your own.  Call me for an in-depth analysis with a take-home color fan as your resource.

4.  Don’t be so hard on yourself!  It’s amazing how our perceptions can be so off-base, and for the worse.  We focus so much on perceived flaws that we forget about our wonderful assets.  Time to stop wasting energy on the negative and start nurturing the positive.

Feel free to call 512-217-9869 or email me at with questions, comments or for a free initial consultation.  I’m always happy to help in any way possible.


Thea Wood


About Thea Wood

I'm a professional image consultant who styles men and women in Austin, Texas. Whether you're climbing the corporate ladder or looking for Miss or Mr. Right, my services will help you create a remarkable first impression that gets results. This blog is a way to provide free tips and fun information about timeless style and things you can do to create your own signature style and increase your confidence. If you'd like to talk in person, please call me at 512.217.9869 to schedule a free consultation.
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