Faking Fit

For whatever reasons, you may have items in your closet that don’t really fit. Just of a few of the reasons I have these items in my closet are:

  • not being able to find a better fit in an item I’ve been really jonesing for
  • fear of a hefty alterations bill
  • items from cheap retailers that I don’t care to alter
  • the fit is just ever-so-slightly big, so I opt to deal with it rather than pay for alterations
  • not to mention, thinking something fits fine, but then realizing it’s not quite up to snuff after a few wears

Whatever your reasons, I’m betting most women have these in their closet, with excuses ranging from the ones I mentioned, to weight fluctuations, sale goggles, and “I’d go broke if I altered everything I bought” (If you’re as petite as I am, this is a real consideration).

Depending on how you style these items, you might be able to get away with wearing them without obviously looking like you’re wearing something that doesn’t fit. Here’s a few tricks I use to help “fake fit” on items that are just a bit off-fitting on me. I’ll start with one of my wardrobe favorites, and a notoriously hard-to-fit item for smaller petites such as myself…shoulders on blazers and jackets.


I love blazers, but my arch nemesis are those darn shoulders! Most blazers are on the verge of fitting, but just a smidgen too broad on me. Altering the shoulder on a blazer can be pricey, and up until recently, I’ve been able to avoid getting it done. I’ve finally come to the conclusion a few of my blazers really just need to have it done (especially since they are now treasured parts of my wardrobe, so I want them as close to perfect as possible), but I wore them for quite some time, big shoulders and all, with this trick:

Ay! Apparently I need a black wall. Sorry the contrast isn’t very good between the wall and the blazer, but the shoulder on this particular Theory jacket is a bit too wide for my frame.

A too-big shoulder looks more in proportion when the sleeves are pushed up. The volume that is created by pushing up the sleeve helps mask what’s going on in the shoulder. Certain blazers I only wear with the sleeves pushed up for this very reason, such as this Theory seersucker blazer. I’m thinking of finally getting the shoulder taken in, but I’ve been wearing it for almost two years now just by pushing up the sleeves.


Sleeve length is another common fit issue for women. If you’re very petite, they can often be too long. If you’re a taller petite, sleeves on petite sized clothing may be too short, even if it fits everywhere else. And if you buy children’s clothing for a smaller fit, sleeves are often too short there as well. If the sleeve is simple and without details, then a simple hemming is the way to go for too-long sleeves. But this may not be a good option if the sleeve is cuffed, buttoned, or otherwise detailed, such as the blazer sleeve below:

Tucking sleeves under that are too long look sloppy up close, and just folding your sleeve so it fits at the wrist is an obvious sign that your sleeves don’t fit. But by rolling your sleeve a few times so it sits at 3/4 length or higher hides both issues of too much, or not enough length. Best of all, rolling your shirt or jacket cuffs looks chic, laid back and intentional.

I find that this helps hide sleeves that are also too wide.

Torso width & arm holes:

This is pretty obvious, but I’ll mention it anyways. If an item is roomy in the torso or too big in the arm holes, wearing it as a layer underneath sweaters, jackets, or vests hides all that perfectly. Just beware of situations where you may need to remove your outer layer, like sitting in the hot sun on your lunch break (It’s nerve racking to be aware that co-workers may be getting peeks of your bra through too-big armholes because you couldn’t stand sweating in the sun any longer. Yipes!).

Here are some fits I’ve faked:

Faked the fit of this boy’s gingham shirt

The fit of this Banana Republic silk shirt is very faked

Layering helps hide the too-big shoulder of this H&M blouse

What are your fit faking tricks?

Join the Conversation


  1. says: Cher

    Hmm. I’m actually kind of proud to say that for the most part I don’t fake fit anything except for maybe tucking in shirts or folding under pants because they are too long…at least until I can find time to hem them. I might have done it more in my younger, more inexperienced days. But now I make sure I love everything about something, including fit. If that means I have to buy less, then so be it. That just means I can justify spending more on another item for good quality, good fit and alterations, if necessary. Of course, you are smaller than I am so even though I have fit issues because of my size, I likely have more success finding things off the rack than you do.

  2. says: Janki

    How do you roll the sleeves without extra bulk?  When I do it, it looks sloppy.  But I like how it makes the blazers look less formal on you.  I work in a business casual area, so I feel really formal when I wear a suit blazer full length.  Any tips for pants that are a wee too loose in the waist that don’t have belt loops?

    1.  When I roll sleeves when I’m actually wearing the item, it gets bulky, but if I roll the sleeves before I put the item on, I can usually get it smoother and straighter. It also depends on the item. If the sleeve is tight and have button cuffs, unbuttoning those buttons helps get a better roll. Sometimes leaving them buttoned it better. It’s just playing around to find the best option. Hmm…without belt loops I can’t think of any way to fix the waist on your pants. A belt would just slide around. If it bothers you enough, those pants may be a case of “need to alter”.

    2. says: R_wickman

      Sew an inside seam at each side, maybe a 1/2 seam or even less and then sew the seam down where the fold is. That is if you have access to a sewing machine. Otherwise use a safety pin on the inside

  3. says: Cee

    Love this post, Kelly. I’ve done everything you’ve mentioned, both intentionally and by accident. Other things that I’ve tried:

    – If a jacket/coat is too big, wear thicker layers underneath to “fill out” the shoulders.
    – Leaving shirts unbuttoned if it becomes too tight
    – Belt the waist for loose-fitting garments

    But most of all, own the clothes you’re wearing. Don’t let your clothes wear you!

  4. says: Cee

    Love this post, Kelly. I’ve done everything you’ve mentioned, both intentionally and by accident. Other things that I’ve tried:

    – If a jacket/coat is too big, wear thicker layers underneath to “fill out” the shoulders.
    – Leaving shirts unbuttoned if it becomes too tight
    – Belt the waist for loose-fitting garments

    But most of all, own the clothes you’re wearing. Don’t let your clothes wear you!

  5. says: Katherine

    Great tips :) loved the before and after pics of the faked fits ;) I have to agree that I have done some of these things before because of not wanting to alter items!


  6. says: Laura Frost

    Thanks for the great tips! I usually opt to do a DIY alteration if I can’t fake it well enough and don’t want to pay for alterations. My favorite is slimming the sides of shirts. So far, it has worked well.

  7. says: Amy

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing with us. 
    I always have hard time finding blazers that fit, especially on shoulder and breast.
    BTW, I put a NWT Theory blk Alexa blazer on the market in the forum, size 00, great sale price.  really petite girls like me, check it out!

  8. says: Fabulouslyfrugirl

    Thanks for the great tips!  I always admire how well fitted your clothes are :)

    I’ve tried the rolling up sleeves trick, but now I’ve got a few more tricks up my sleeve!

  9. says: Michelle

    I loved that Banana silk top when you posted it that first time! That got me wanting something like it! And your “train conductor” jacket! :p

    You are so good at making things work!

  10. says: Christina

    I agree with Michelle. You are so clever at making clothes fit very nicely on your frame. These are all things I have never considered, but after reading this post I’m now eager to check out my closet and see what I can put together!

    I really love the Banana Republic blouse on you!

  11. says: Anonymous

    Wow great information. Never thought of this. I usually have issue with blazer. Somehow the pads on the should make me look like I’m wearing football gear.

  12. says: Karen

    Great tips Kelly! I love your blog and how helpful it is for petites. I may not be as petite as you but I come across these problems sometimes too. Thank you for sharing!

  13. says: Angie

    you did a great job faking each of these kelly! i never noticed. thanks for the tips and this reminds me of what i used to do with boxy school shirts (public enemy #1 of young petites) – roll up the sleeves, make a bunny tail in the back with a hair tie. haha except yours is much more professional.

  14. says: Annie

    Great post! I often push up the sleeves on shirts/blazers/cardigans as well just for a nicer fit – I’m sure your other tips will come in handy for me as well! 

  15. says: Hallie Wiseley

    Shirts that fit the bust but are baggy in the waist are easily disguised with a high-waisted skirt.

  16. says: Hallie Wiseley

    Also, if the sleeves of a blazer are a touch too short, push them up, wear a shirt underneath with the cuffs folded up, or wear a pretty bracelet so it looks intentional.

  17. says: Tina

    I have tons of dresses that have a natural waist (cause natural waist a-lines look amazing on me), but the problem is they fit me everywhere except my teeny waist! So I cinch them with a belt and they always look a million times better. Plus it’s an awesome way to dress things up or down depending on the occasion. It’s only a problem when I feast and then I can’t wait to rip the belt off haha. 

  18. says: Kayla

    I have a maxi dress I refuse to hem because it’s vintage and when long, I can wear it with (very high) heels. For a more casual look, I wear it with flats. But because it’s too long for that, I put a belt on the waist line and have the extra fabric flow on the top half of the dress.

  19. says: Kellye Steindel

    I know that you posed against a white wall for the seersucker blazer photos, but the before still looks great! It’s not too big that’s overwhelming you. And the sleeves still fall nicely from the shoulders. Maybe you only notice that the shoulders are too big in person? I can’t tell from the photos and I’m picky about how blazers fit :)

  20. says: Anonymous

    Hi, I just want to say that I enjoy your site & articles, and you seem like such a nice person too! Thanks for the great tips. Cheers.

  21. says: Claudia

    I always had problems with jackets! specially with leather ones! Do you know if leather it’s possible to alter? Or what should I know before tailored any sleeve of any jacket?

    1. says: AlterationsNeeded

      Hi Claudia! Yes, you can alter leather but you may have to call around to find a tailor that works with it. If it’s just shortening a sleeve, that shouldn’t be a problem, but if the sleeve has a zipper, there will most likely be an extra charge to shorten or replace it.

  22. says: Jan

    This is the first I have seen this blog, if that is what it is called. Wish I knew about it years ago. This is way late, but in response to the question of shorting sleeves with zippers on leather jackets, I have had that done to 5-6 leather jackets. You would never know – they look great! But yes, it was pricey to get done. But not as pricey as a new jacket.

  23. says: Jennifer Coffee

    Hello! I have an older leather jacket that has always been a little ill fitting. I’m tall (5’11”) and have reasonably broad shoulders. The jacket is a little tight around the shoulders/arm holes and the sleeves are not only dated (they almost bell at the wrists), they are about and in and a half too short. I’m curious if it is possible to deconstruct the jacket (not me, a professional ; ) and put some sort of fabric inserts in the shoulders and/or maybe the elbows to lengthen the sleeves! In the alternative, how difficult would it be to deconstruct the jacket and add fabric sleeves to the leather shell and then use the leather sleeves as replacements on a favorite sweater from the elbow down? Basically if I can’t make this jacket fit as a jacket, I don’t want it taking up space in my closet, but would rather repurpose the leather for something!

  24. says: Heather

    That’s awesome! I’ve never thought of using layering to hide big shoulders, but the bigger size on the shirt actually works so you don’t feel to crammed under the sweater. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a comment
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *