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How to Get the Right Size When Shopping for Clothes Online

By Jacqueline Curtis

online shoppingLet’s face it: Shopping for shoes and clothes online can be a gamble. Sizes vary widely across different stores and brands, and sometimes, sending back the wrong size can be a major hassle. I’m notoriously bad at shipping back stuff that doesn’t fit me – I usually forget about it and eventually donate clothes it to a local thrift shop. But unfortunately, that means less money in my wallet and fewer clothes in my closet.

Even if you don’t adore shopping online, you can’t deny the amazing deals available. Since online stores are able to pull from a large central inventory, they often have better clearance sales and a larger selection compared to traditional brick-and-mortar stores. And in addition to being affordable, it’s super convenient. Grabbing a new pair of shoes online saves a trip to the store where you might not even find what you’re looking for.

Getting the Right Size

So what’s a shopper to do when it comes to deciphering sizes and making sure that everything fits? A handful of tips will lead you in the right direction and help you nab the right size every time:

1. Measure Yourself
The first thing you need to do is measure yourself. A size 4 in one brand may feel like a size 6 in another, so it’s important to go by your measurements rather than your actual dress size.

Measure your bust, waist, and hips. You can do this by measuring around your chest for bust, around your belly button for waist, and around your hip bones for your hip measurements. Write down your numbers and keep them handy when you’re ready to start buying clothes online.

2. Read Up on Sizing Information
Nearly every online clothing retailer has a section of their website devoted to sizing information, which can be a lifesaver when you’re spending money on items you can’t try on. Don’t ignore it – explore it!

Before you start adding clothes to your virtual shopping cart, make sure you’re clear on the store’s sizing policies. Even though you’re a 6 in one brand, it doesn’t mean you’re automatically a 6 in every brand. Some manufacturers simply fit larger or smaller, so don’t rely on the dress size until you’ve read though the information on the website and determined which size would fit your measurements best.

get the right size

3. Know the Difference
When it comes to women’s clothes, some stores sell “misses” sizing, while others focus on “juniors.” It’s important to know the difference between the two because it’ll have a huge bearing on the way a garment fits your body.

“Misses” is the traditional sizing for women’s clothing, and uses even numbers to denote fit, such as 2, 4, 6, and 8. Misses clothes generally have more room in the bust and hips, so they’re great for hourglass figures. Juniors clothing, on the other hand, is denoted by odd numbers and has less room cut for the hips and bust. It’s better for smaller frames, trendier tastes, and boyish shapes. Always check the type of sizing before you buy.

4. Write It Down
One way that I shop online with confidence is with a sizing file on my computer. When I have success with a certain brand, I enter the brand and the size I wear into a simple Word document on my desktop. I keep a running list so that when I’m shopping online again, I can quickly bring up my file and know which size is the right one for me. Since sizes vary so widely across the board as far as fit goes, it helps to know f you’re a 4 in one brand and a 6 in another. The same concept works well for shoes, which you can often snag online for cheap.

5. Order More Than One
Never buy from an online clothing store that doesn’t have a generous return policy. A good store offers to pay for returns, but others will require that you pony up for the return label. Regardless, steer clear of stores that don’t allow returns.

To avoid sizing snafus, order two of the same garment in different sizes from a website with a return policy you can live with. Then, send back the one that doesn’t fit. Just make sure the store offers refunds for returns, not store credit, so you get actual money back once you’ve returned the item.

Final Word

You can save a ton of cash by surfing the web and buying clothes online, but only if you know how to grab the right size every time. Since sizing, brands, and fit can vary, always check into a store’s return policy before you ever place an order. That way, you’ll look good, and your budget will too.

Do you have any other tips for snagging the right size while shopping online?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Jacqueline Curtis
Jacqueline Curtis is an experienced style expert, and she focuses on getting high fashion on a tight budget. She writes for several online publications, including her own fashion blog, How Not to Dress Like a Mom, and specializes in fashion, finance, health and fitness, and parenting. Jae grew up in Toronto, Canada, but now resides in Utah with her husband, two kids, and prized shoe collection.

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  • http://www.moneyclipmag.com/ BroSharp

    While my blog’s mostly about frugal takes on menswear, these tips is probably true for women’s clothing too:

    if the site has a review system, definitely check up on what users say about the fit of the piece. If you’re lucky, they’ll also describe their own height, weight, and build to give you some context about how it fit.

    Also, if you can’t find enough measurements information online, some retailers have excellent customer support by phone with access to the item that can actually measure it for you. For example, I know Lands’ End does this..

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/BWFRTXR75YDHVKLI56C4NNKGQY uclalien

    I try to shop on websites that either have a local physical location that accepts returns or websites that have free return shipping when doing an exchange for a different size. In the past year, I’ve ordered athletic shoes online on two occasions where shipping is free for size exchanges. Fortunately, I haven’t had to take advantage of that benefit. And just the other day, I ordered 4 shirts online with the intention of returning at least two of them. I didn’t worry though because they had a physical location about 5 minutes from my house.

  • http://www.nextpay.com/ credit card processing

    Great tips. Several catalogs I order from have comments about the fit & I know that the full fit in pants always works. It’s also helpful to buy from companies that send a return label in the pkg. Even though they deduct a flat amount for returns, at least you can just repackage the item(s), affix the label & drop it in a postal or UPS collection box, as required. Much easier than standing in line at the post office.

  • Kateryna

    Today some on-line shops use new technologies to help their customers with sizing problem. I also like how Net-a-porter solves this problem. They measure each item in each size and show the exact measurments of all clothes. It helped me very much when i’ve bought dress for my mother. I just compared measurements on the site with the measurments of the similar dress from her wardrobe.

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