Welcome to week 2 of our premiere Just My Style series with pet couturier, Anthony Rubio of Anthony Rubio Designs. This week Anthony is tackling the common issue of fit: what to look for, how to know when it’s not quite right and what you can fix yourself, best fabrics to buy and more.
So, grab your favorite beverage, get cozy and let’s go!
Fit by Anthony Rubio
When you’re talking fit, the best place to start is by measuring your dog. You may think everyone knows how and where to do this; but, not so!
When dressing your dog, the most important factor is comfort and safety. Your dog isn’t interested in color or design. What matters to him or her is feeling comfortable. With that in mind, here is an excellent measurement chart that will facilitate purchasing clothing. As I mentioned in my last entry, if your dog won’t walk with clothing on or tries to take it off, they are telling you they’re not comfortable and please don’t force them to wear what they’re not comfortable in. It can result in a negative experience for both of you. Now, on to my top tips to find the perfect fit!
How do you know when the fit isn’t right, if it’s not obvious?
Most of the time it will be visually obvious when a garment is il-fitting, but the best sign is the actual behavior of your dog. If a garment is even a little too tight, your dog may not walk properly or at all. If it’s too big, it may get in the way of them moving naturally or just look off. Take notice of any abnormal behavior when you’ve dressed your dog.
In the beginning stages of introducing clothing to your dog, especially if it is not a young dog, start out with very simple things like a bandana or bow tie. Then, after a few days of that when you see your dog no longer notices it, introduce a sweater or harness and, by all means, praise them to the skies and make a big deal about how the dog looks and pleases you. After all, that is what they really want. They want to show you love by making you happy. So, show that back to them.
Styles that work best for harder to fit body types
Many pet clothing manufacturers mass produce their garments, making it impossible to offers the spectrum of sizes needed to get a really good fit. It’s buying off the rack and settling for a size that kin of fits nicely, in small, medium or large. For your money, the higher end garments will be numbered in actual sizes – 8, 10, 12, 14, etc. – which makes for a better fit.
Certain breeds have features unlike others. Dachshunds have elongated bodies and short legs, as do Corgis. A sweater or coat off the rack will mean the dog is not completely covered.
Breeds like Boxers or French and English Bulldogs and Boston Terriers, among others, have barrel chests so, again, off the rack will usually not fit correctly, unless designed by someone specifically for those breeds, of which there are a few. One option is tailoring, but the best option is to get something custom fitted. Go ahead and spend a few extra dollars to get a perfect fit in materials that will last longer. Isn’t your dog so worth it?
I have a client who owns four Leonburgers. For those not familiar with the breed, they are very large, long-haired, docile and majestic creatures. Because of their size, the client wanted a good, comfortable fit and because her dogs are celebrities in their own right, she also wanted them to look and feel great. From the beginning, I made it clear that comfort was most important and that all garments must be kept simple so as not to take away from the magnificent appearance of her dogs. I designed harness/vests for the runway or their events, easier to put on. Now, I’m designing garments that will close on the back instead of the front. This allows for quicker and easier dressing.
What types of fabrics offer the most comfortable fit for dogs?
I’ve found that breathability and fabrics with stretch or give work best. Fabrics that don’t breath can trap cold or hot air, making the dog too cold or hot, something that is uncomfortable, yes, but in more extreme conditions could be dangerous. Fabrics that give or have a stretch to them allows your dog to feel as if that garment moves with them with no obstructions. If they don’t have to think about the garment but enjoy the warmth of it, let’s say, then the dog is happy and you will be, too!
I’ve found a large variety of fabrics with give. I have even found formal fabrics with sequins, as seen on Magneto (above). There are also stretch satins and velvets for tuxedos and gowns.
What types of fit problems are correctable DIY style vs. what should be sent back?
If a simple tuck or dart can be applied to a garment for a better fit, then it’s a keeper. If the garment is too tight, constricting and does not allow for any kind of adjustment, it should go back.
One last tip…
If you purchase a garment with velcro closures, please check that there are no sharp corners that can pinch. I have taken to rounding out the edges of the velco usually before attaching to the garment, but you can carefully cut the sharp corners off to round those edges.
In summary, shopping for your dog should be fun and dressing them, a good experience for you both. If a fabric feels soft and inviting to you, it probably will to your dog. If it has some stretch and fits well, you’re probably on your way to a fashion moment of the positive kind. If you can, go custom; you may never go back. There’s nothing like it for fit and control over fabric, styling, details. Happy shopping, everyone!
Stay tuned next week, when I’ll take you behind the scenes in my atelier, as I prepare for New York Fashion Week!
Do you have a fit challenge with your dog? Ask Anthony!
For more information on Anthony and to order his designs.
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