The responses to the first entry were gratifying and helpful. I intended to follow up earlier but the party in question is still unpacking your many useful and insightful comments -thank you. By the end of it, I was beginning to get the idea that an argument could be made that the basis of the perception of worsening fit was similar to perceptions of vanity sizing. In other words, as vanity sizing is a myth, the perception of worsening fit may not be as valid as we thought.
However, this morning, Allen -who has since become my favorite person of the week- left a comment on an older entry (A question of thoracic shaping) with a link to an MRI scan of a woman’s chest (my marked up version is shown at right). While he left the link as corroboration of my earlier points of why bras fit so lousy, it circuitously contributed to today’s entry in that we have some proofs -not opinions mind you- that fit is worse even considering the many valid challenges to that idea.
In Allen’s image that I’ve marked up, the green line represents the side seam. The red line is the front chest wall. The yellow line is the back. As I’ve said over and over till I’m blue in the face, for nearly all humans, the front of the body is bigger than the back of the body. It is readily apparent that our example has a bigger front than back -even when her breast tissue is not considered. [I also note it is obvious that her arms are hanging off the front of her body rather than even-steven aligned with the side seam which contributes to my points about unjustified sleeve cap ease.]
Now, returning to the hypothesis that fit is not as good as it once was, do you recall a book review I wrote about children’s pattern drafting? [I’ll tie all this together neatly for you, I promise.] In comments to that entry, visitors were kind enough to elaborate on the idea of Form vs Flat pattern making, specifically that clothing these days is deliberately drafted so it can be folded more easily because this has become increasingly important for mass merchant displays. You can fit more garments with less wrinkling on a shelf if they’re drafted to be folded. Now, the only way you make clothing to be more easily folded is if the fronts and backs are the same size -see where I’m going with this?
Summary: The predominance of mass merchants and the importance of their display criteria has had a significant and direct impact on clothing fit. What’s worse is that it can only proliferate as pattern makers who cut their teeth in such an environment, go on to work at other places and take their practices with them. If fit is your greater priority, I would suggest you keep this in mind when weighing the work history of people you hire and not be as impressed as you normally would be that they worked at a large successful brand -unless of course, you hope to fit into the same market segment. In short, fit did used to be better.