Fashion Q&A with Susie Skillman

Hi Susie! Please introduce yourself…

My name is Susie Skillman (she/her) and I live in Buffalo, NY (USA). I am a 32 year old Asian American, adopted from South Korea. I have Campomelic Syndrome, a rare form of skeletal dysplasia. I love The Arts (most often modern fine art) and am fuelled by coffee, carbs, craft beer, and equally crafty humour.

Wow, what an amazing introduction, we love fine art, carbs and humour too! Please tell us, what is your favourite piece of clothing and why…

I’d have to say jeans. It’s one of my most commonly worn pieces of clothing. And while I do love a nice skirt and/or dress... a pair of fitted jeans hold the power to make me feel confident in my skin.

Yes! Jeans are such a staple piece is almost anyone’s wardrobe: so, where do you usually shop?

The smallest size range in the petites of brands like Loft, J Crew, Banana Republic, etc. Only steep sales or second hand though!

We can second that, second hand shopping is where we do all our shopping now! Sometimes the petite section can have some gems for short stature women too! And, what do you look for in a garment and why?

Proper fit - flattering. Aside from pant hems and the occasional sleeve hem, I have not found a tailor so am confined by off the rack fit.

Finding a trust-worthy tailor can be so difficult, and they can cost you as much as what you’ve paid for the garment so we completely empathise with the need for finding well fitting pieces off the hanger - hopefully with our up-coming AW21 range you can confidently buy some pieces that need no alteration to the hems! So, What are your top challenges with clothing?

Aside from leg and arm lengths. Accessibility in regards to getting clothing on/off: I cannot pull clothes off over my head cross armed, as many do, sometimes I can get a shirt/dress on but getting out of it is a true challenge because I have to push my arm down through the arm hole in order to lift it over my head. I have truly feared tearing an item I didn’t want to purchase right in half, in the dressing room, trying to remove it.

Adaptive designs are so needed in the industry! We’ve been experimenting a lot with wrap dress designs because we understand that these are so much easier to get on and off! Is there anything you’d love to wear, but feel you can’t?

Bodycon dresses, and other dresses (and sometimes shirts) that zip up the back and therefore are not accessible for me. 

Whoever designed the back zip on dresses is the devil, they’re inaccessible to so many women and a nuisance to others: you will never see a back zip design at CDF! So, we’d love to know How much do you know about sustainability and how does this influence your buying habits?

I try to waste and produce as little waste as I am able. Everyday disposable products (food, cleaning, etc) have changed over time so it is easy to achieve little waste and environmental impact. I would love to transition my clothing to be more sustainable as well but the financial barrier is definitely a hurdle (more so what I am willing to, used to, and can afford to pay than the actual fair price - mental hurdle). Knowing that my clothing is made sustainably and can be disposed of sustainably would be amazing; especially if it is high quality and made for a long wear period.

That’s such a great answer, we’re exactly the same, trying to alter our waste habits where possible, buying second hand and slowly transitioning to eco-friendly clothing items by looking at the fabric content… At CDF we’re sourcing all our fabrics locally within the UK that are made of natural fibres only where possible, one of our favourite fabrics with bamboo jersey for its buttery soft feel and biodegradable qualities. Price can be a barrier for so many, we’re so used to paying pennies for our clothing and its about unlearning that behaviour, buying quality pieces that last longer and therefor spending less in the long-run.

If you could send one message to todays designers, what would it be?

If creating an entirely new size line is “unattainable” or even undesirable, offering à la carte options for personalization in sizing would be widely used, even by average sized people that clothes are made for, off the rack! Some companies offer this and this is a big motivator to purchase or at least browse their selection.

Do you know, we’ve been thinking of this ourselves because as inclusive as our currently size chart is (7 sizes roughly mimicking a UK 6 to a 24 and 3-5 leg lengths), we know that there are short stature women that even fall outside of this bracket too that need/want clothing just as much, bespoke services is such a great option. So, where do you look for style inspiration?

Any style that I see that I feel would be flattering and with items of clothing I feel I could make work off the rack: Old or new, doesn’t matter to me so much, stylistically. There are definitely things I see that I wish I could make work for me - i.e. cold weather wear like cute long sleeved shirts, cosy drapey fall/winter wear. I have honed my eye to be able to spot things that may work for me and I just try tons of things on to see if they work.

Rest assured, well-fitting winter pieces will be launching that are designed for the short stature body! And Lastly, what is your top styling tip for women with a similar body type to yourself?

It took me a long time to stop just wearing oversized clothes and begin the long, difficult hunt for clothes that FIT. Shop brands that offer petite sizes (some don’t offer them in store but do, on their website) and trying EVERYTHING on. I have found that shopping brands that are more expensive than I really want to pay, has paid off. Even if only a couple shirts or one bottom works, that’s one more option at my disposal!

Yes, sometimes the more pricey stores offer a better fit and better options that will in the long-run, last you a long time!

Thank you so much for joining us, we really feel like we’ve gotten to know a bit about you. If you’d like to follow Susie over on Instagram, her handle is @skillman020

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