How to ensure your online clothing purchase will fit
If this has happened to you, you are not alone. Camille Reed, the founder of the Australasian Circular Textile Association, estimates that about 30 percent of all online clothing sales are returned in Australia. And of that 30 percent, a further 30 percent cannot be sold. Unfortunately, this means a significant portion of brand new, or what was brand new fashion items end up in landfills.
Here are our tips to help you increase the likelihood of getting the best fit when shopping for clothes online.
1. Know your measurements
Not knowing your measurements makes it difficult to ensure the best fit for your online clothing purchase. In many cases, the size doesn't matter as they can vary considerably from brand to brand, and even between the different styles with one clothing brand.
The main measurements you need to record are:
- Bust - taken at the widest section of the bust just underneath the armpits
- Waist – taken at the smallest section around the waist
- Hips – taken at the widest section in the hip area
Length – the measurement from top to bottom
TIP: The easiest way to take these measurements is to grab items of clothing you already own, that fit you well including a skirt, top, dress and jeans or pants. Then lay each garment flat, and take these measurements using a tape measure, a piece of string or a ruler. I would also recommend you add an extra centimetre or two for a bit of breathing space.
2. Keep your measurements handy when shopping online
Once you have taken your measurements, save them somewhere that is easily accessible when shopping online. I like to keep my clothing measurements on the notepad on my phone. You could also take a photo of your clothing measurements (make sure you do this if you have handwritten your measurements so that you have a digital record), save them in your contacts or on a word or excel document. Just make sure they are handy when you are shopping online. Otherwise, you will unlikely refer to them when you shop for clothing online.
3. Check the size AND measurements
Use the size as a starting point when shopping for clothes online. And then, when you find a garment you like, check the measurements.
If the clothing store does not include the measurements, be very wary, as there is no way to be sure that the garment will fit. I would avoid this altogether or contact the online clothing store and ask for the measurements.
4. Know your body shape
As a pear shape, my hips are wider than my bust, which means I tend to avoid buying pencil dresses, or tight-fitting pants or skirts online. I know I can buy a dress or skirt with a fuller skirt or any top with confidence because there is no restriction around my hips.
Understanding your body shape and the styles that you feel most comfortable in will give you the greatest chance that a garment will fit. Check out the clothes in your wardrobe for the type of clothing styles you wear most and what you feel most comfortable in. These are the types of clothes you should stick to when shopping for clothes online.
Some clothing materials will be more forgiving than others. In addition to checking the actual measurements, it is also important to note the type of material as this can impact when you size up or down.
5. Check the clothing material
If you buy clothing online with no elastane, spandex or lycra, understand that there will be no give or stretch in the fabric. If they do have stretch, you can be assured that there will be some breathing space in your measurements and a more comfortable fit.
Other materials to look out for are polyester, which is resistant to shrinking, and cotton, which can shrink and stretch over time.
6. Consider clothing alteration for the best fitHave you ever wondered why clothing sizes going up by twos? Clothing manufacturers are aware there are differences in body measurements; however, they only produce clothing sizes in twos on account of mass production and productivity. This means it can often be tough to buy clothing that fits you perfectly. Perhaps you are a size 13 instead of a size 12 or 14?
In this case, the best way to get the right fit for a garment is to have it altered to fit your exact body dimensions. If you are buying a garment that is built to last, this could be a worthwhile option.
7. Does the clothing store offer easy returns?
The tips above will certainly increase the likelihood of a perfect fit when shopping for clothes online. But no matter how hard you try, you may still need to return something that doesn’t suit you or that you don’t like, which is why you should check that return policy before you complete your order. If the store does not offer returns, then really consider the item before making your purchase.