The Perfectly Imperfect Dress

Clemmie Beresford discusses her frustration with the sizing of clothes and the fact that one size certainly does not fit all. 

Over the last few weeks my conversations with friends have been dominated by the topic of the dress. St Andrews signature events leading up to Christmas and festive society dinners present us with the perfect opportunity to get out the debit card and splash out on a fabulous frock. No doubt many of us have wardrobes lined with dresses, yet we manage to convince ourselves that something new, a little special is required!


In the hope of finding the wow factor we trawl the websites of high-street giants, scrolling through what seems like an endless choice. Some of us even venture beyond the Bubble to Edinburgh, myself included. Yet conversation with friends over the indulgent gingerbread latte has revolved more around dissatisfaction and exasperation with potential festive frocks than excitement. Many of the designs dazzling with sparkling sequins or pretty block patterns, our frustration results not from the design, rather the cut and fit.


With a height of five foot four I am according to various authorities on the internet (Wikipedia included!) the universal average height. Yet, finding a dress that is cut the right length, designed for my height rather than someone six foot tall, perpetually fails me. Dresses are often far too long, and where they are supposed to fall three inches above the knee, fall nearly three inches below! This often gives the effect of wearing something that is rather oversized and too big. 


As well as this, the design cuts in at the waist in the wrong place and so many dresses don’t fit correctly. With the cut out dresses that were popular in the summer, this was something I really noticed - often the cut out was completely in the wrong place, much lower than it ought to be. Although some brands try to take this problem into account by offering a petite brand, often dresses in these sections are much shorter - there is nothing that caters for the in-between.


This might seem to some a trivial complaint, one that hardly bears a thought, yet it constitutes a real problem and to me a fashion crisis. Friends have said the same, and over a couple of laughs some of us have said we should band together and make a brand that actually provides fashionable pieces that fit well for women of an average or shorter height. In a society where we can express aspects of our personality and creativity through clothes, it is crucial that we can have confidence that what we chose to wear fits and presents us how we wish to appear. Clothes that are too long and ill fitting clearly do not enable such confidence - perhaps it is time we demand greater variety to reflect the variety of our nature.