Finding Clothes That Fit

Those of you reading this that are guys are probably thinking, “How could it be hard to find clothes that fit? Duh, just walk in to the store, grab your size, and leave.” But I promise you, it’s not that simple if you are a woman.

It’s not that we just love playing dress up. I don’t know anyone who actually loves trying on clothes. Shopping? Sure. But trying on clothes? No. So why do women spend what seems like forever trying on clothes? Ask the fashion industry, who has deemed that a size 10 is not always (or ever?) a size 10.

This means that we spend waste a lot of money buying clothes that “mostly” fit, or that we think will fit one day, or that would fit if we had one part taken in or another part let out, or (in the case of shoes) that fit well enough to wear for a couple of hours before we get blisters on our feet.

It can get costly, and frustrating. But while I still have to try on a lot of clothes, I’ve at least figured out a way to make sure that the clothes I buy actually do fit so that I don’t waste my money any longer on ones that don’t. It’s a simple strategy, but it works.

Here’s what I do. When I find some clothes that look nice, I grab two or three sizes of the same item to try on. I hold them up to me and start with the one that looks most likely to fit. In the dressing room, I face away from the mirror and close my eyes for good measure. Then I put the article of clothing on and just see how it feels. I move around in it a little too, holding out my arms, shrugging my shoulders, taking a few steps, etc. If it’s the least bit uncomfortable, I take it off without even looking at it.

That’s the key — not looking at it. Because it might be cute, and I might be tempted to get it anyway since I want it to fit. If it was close to fitting, I try on one of the other sizes. Once I find an item that feels ok, I’ll turn around and look at it in the mirror. If it looks nice, I’ll then inspect for other things that might rule the item out: sleeves that aren’t the right length, a neckline that goes too far, etc. If everything’s ok at this point, then it goes on my “buy” list. This method has ruled a whole lot of clothes out, which is probably for the best.


  • This is really good advice that I hadn’t even considered before. I’ve done the usual (aka wrong) thing of not picking out mix-n-match outfits (particularly for work), leaving me with a mess of stuff that just doesn’t work. My project for this weekend is to go through my closet, clean out the crap that just doesn’t work (why oh why did I buy it in the first place?) and get smart about work clothes. Thanks for this advice!

    Buying clothes is even more frustrating if you’re a plus-size gal. Many retailers are removing their plus-sizes from the stores in favor of online shopping, despite the fact that we make up the bulk (pun intended) of the market. I read a study that shows most folks who shop online don’t return clothes if they don’t fit. (Do they ever fit?) So, we just try something else instead of returning it and they make a killing. Ug. So wrong. So annoying!

  • Oh, I can never buy anything from catalogs. They almost never fit, and the waiting & returning is annoying. Happy closet cleaning though :)

  • Hi Jackie – great post. I think not looking in mirror is going to be hard but I am going to give it a try next time I shop.

    Also can I suggest you check out ? A friend and I built it while working at a online retailer. The idea is you enter your key measurements and it gives you your clothes sizes per store. So you quickly find out how each retailer is sizing their clothes before you go online or into a shop.

  • Buying clothes that fit is not easy. I take an hour to pick out a dress :p

  • Alan

    I was looking for info on finding clothes to fit “hard to fit” guys and came across your article. A little dissapointed that it was geared toward women but I thought I’d pose my dilemma to you and see what you think.

    I am what used to be termed portly – I have about 50 extra pounds on my frame, all in the gut. My arms and legs are still slender. Men have to pay attention to neck size and sleeve length when buying dress shirts and waist and inseam length when buying pants. Try finding an 18 inch neck dress shirt with 32 inch sleeves or dress slacks with a 40 inch waist but only a 29 inch inseam. It’s next to impossible.

    I usually end up buying shirts for my neck size (because I don’t like choking) which means there seems to be yards of extra material hanging around my waist. That extra material always ends up billowing out of the top of my pants, making me look sloppy. When it comes to pants, I usually end up buying ones that fit my waist but are an inch longer than I need. True, I could just re-hem them, but I feel that when you are paying what they are asking for clothes these days, you shouldn’t have to make adjustements to a finished product. So I pull them up higher on my waist to keep from walking on the bottom of the pants legs. I have to keep pulling them up though because they have this need to follow the laws of gravity and slide to the bottom of my belly.

    I know, the best thing for me to do is lose the weight, unfortunately it was a hell of lot easier to put on than it’s been taking it off.

    Thanks for listening,


    • Boy that sounds just as frustrating. If it were me I’d probably bite the bullet though and get them hemmed/tailored. Much better to spend a little bit more and be comfortable, I think.