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Shopping for clothes online, whether you buy them from a big box store or a custom clothier, can get you great style at bargain prices. Unfortunately it also comes with the worry that because you’re buying a clothing item sight-unseen. It just might not fit and you’ve wasted your money. Here’s how to make sure that never, ever happens.
I don’t know too many people who love shopping for clothes. I don’t mind it, but the ability to shop for clothes online makes it easy to improve your personal style, dress better, and take the stress and maybe shame out of clothes buying. It’s just natural that more and more people would want to do it. Online shopping does however come with the stress of possibly having to return whatever you buy. Well, we can’t eliminate you ever having to deal with returns or exchanges, but with a little planning and some smart shopping, we can make sure it’s rare.
Get Some Accurate Measurements for Your Body, and Keep Them Up to Date
The first, and perhaps most important thing you can do before you spend money buying clothes online is to get proper measurements of yourself. Once you have an idea of your size, beyond “large,” “size 10,” or “42 waist,” you’ll be able to shop without fear. Remember, one company’s size 10 is another company’s size 8. Labels and designers purposefully use “vanity sizes” to confuse customers, and even though the whole point of sizes and inches is to give consumers standards, one company’s 42 inch slacks will fit drastically differently than another’s. The best way to fight back is to make sure you have your own measurements. Here’s how.
Get a professional to take them for you. Obviously, the best way to get the most accurate measurements possible is to have someone else take them while you’re standing normally. If you can, head to a clothing store (I know, the whole point here is to shop online and avoid clothing stores, but just this once…) and have your measurements properly taken by someone who does it all the time and knows what they’re doing. This is especially important for women and bra sizes—getting properly fitted for a bra is a difficult thing, and it’s even harder if you’re alone. Visit a lingerie or womenswear store and get a proper bra fitting so you have it in your back pocket.
Or maybe now would be a good time for you to find a tailor or seamstress in your community that can do adjustments and alterations for you. They’ll usually be happy to take your measurements, and may even keep them on file so they don’t have to re-take them every time you bring them something that needs work. Once you have them, you’ll be ready to shop.
Take them yourself (or have a friend help you out). The alternative to having a pro do it, of course, is to do it yourself. You have to be careful taking your own measurements. Don’t suck in your gut, or try to stand up straighter than you normal. Do not try to “optimize” your posture or size will just lead to uncomfortable clothing in the end. Similarly, if you must take your own measurements, get a friend or family member to help out with the hard to reach places, like the inseam for gents, or the bust for ladies.
- For men, you have a couple of areas to pay attention to. For pants and slacks, you’ll naturally want your height, waist size, and inseam, but you should also measure your hips and, if you have a more pronounced backside, your “natural hips,” or the width around your pelvis across your seat. Having all of those in-hand will make sure you know what you’re in for when you buy pants and slacks. For shirts, make sure you take your chest size, your sleeve length, and your neck size. Even if you tend not to wear anything on your upper body that isn’t sized in “small/medium/large/xl,” those numbers will be what you need for dress shirts, blazers, and suit coats.
- For women, you have a few more things to be concerned about. You’ll want to measure your bust—the fullest part of your chest, and make note of that. If you want your bra size, a professional bra fitting is best. You can get this done at a local shop if you do not know your exact bra size. You’ll also want to measure your “natural waist,” or the slimmest part of your torso, probably not where your pants rest. Then go ahead and take your actual waist measurements. It’s not often used in women’s clothing, but it’s good to have. Women’s clothing usually uses hip measurements—or the size around the fullest part of your body at the top of the leg, around and across your seat. You’ll also want your inseam for slacks and pants. If you plan to wear collared shirts and blouses, take all of the same measurements mentioned above, including neck size and sleeve length.
Make Notes On Brands, Retailers, and Designers You’ve Bought from Before
Once you’ve looked over their respective sizing charts and found some retailers that sell clothes in your size and personal style, you’re in good shape to start shopping. Grab a notebook or use your favorite note-taking app to jot down the name of any retailer from which you buy. Make sure you write down, what you bought, its size, and how well it fits.
Keeping notes like this for clothes may sound silly, but it’s really important. When you hit on a brand, a cut, or a style that really works for you, you’ll be able to find it again easily. You’ll also always know that a specific brand is cut a certain way and fits you well. Label sizes won’t be as important anymore. You’ll know that even though the size chart says you should be a Size 14, this company’s Size 12 fits you perfectly. Another company could even expect you to step up to a Size 16! After a couple of purchases, you’ll have a stable of brands, designers, and cuts that you know always work. When you choose to branch out, it won’t be like taking a shot in the dark. You’ll be informed and be able to take an educated selection.
Title image made using lole (Shutterstock).Other photos by Carl Mueller, Maria Morri, and Ariel Grimm
Courtesy of: lifehacker.com/how-to-shop-for-clothes-online-and-get-a-perfect-fit-1501813895