The M Dash

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How Do You Know If a Dress Fits?

November 30, 2018 | Filed in: Your Closet

You’ve got a big presentation, or an important interview, or an essential talk with your boss, and you’re on the hunt for the perfect dress to impress. That should be a cinch, right? But this one pulls, and that one’s too short—or it just doesn’t work. Anyone who’s left a store full of rage knows that a good fit is hard to find. Here, MM stylist Nyjerah Cunningham shares her foolproof checklist to make sure your next dress fits you, well, like a glove.

Dress Fit Tip #1: Size Up

how should a dress fit

No draglines = a reason to dance.

Draglines are horizontal lines that appear when fabric is stretched (different from natural lines that come with movement—draglines will be visible when you’re standing still). They often appear around the hips, and they’re a sign that the dress is too tight. If this is a frequent problem for you, choose a dress with an A-line silhouette, which offers more breathing room around the hips. Even if you’re going for a more form-fitting look, the fabric should still lie flat. To get the fit just right, try the next size up. 

Dress Fit Tip #2: Tame the Top

how should a dress fit

A perfectly aligned seam? Priceless.

After sizing up, some spots may then be too roomy—especially the top. “Women sometimes overlook when the top is a little too blousy,” says Cunningham. “If there’s a seam at the top of the shoulders, that should be your guide.” That seam should lie flat across the top of your shoulders; if it’s pulling either towards the front or back, you’ll know there’s fabric to spare. A tailor can make easy alterations to fix it. 

Dress Fit Tip #3: Check Every Seam

how should a dress fit

Every seam is an opportunity.

Most dresses are covered in seams, and where there’s a seam, there’s an opportunity for alteration. If you really love a piece, but part of the dress is pulling or doesn’t sit flat on your body, bring it to the tailor. “Good areas to check are the back zipper, the top of the shoulder, and the waist,” says Cunningham.

Dress Fit Tip #4: Test the Hem

how should a dress fit

A great work dress will ace the sit test with ease.

It’s standard practice at work to avoid hemlines more than an inch or two above the knee. But that doesn’t mean you have to stick with the same dress style every day. Mix up your look with a midi dress—it will lengthen your silhouette without coming across like a gown. And whatever hem length you choose: Make it a point to perch in your prospective dress, sitting down in the dressing room just as you would at your desk. If the fabric is constricting or stiff, the hem can ride up when you’re seated—and you may end up showing more than you bargained for.

Now, go forth and find your fit! Shop our latest dress assortment here


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Deanna is a writer and editor in New York City. She enjoys reading, hiking, and not moving to the West Coast. Read more of Deanna's posts.


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