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With the rise of online shopping, we are now living in the future. Everything from electronics to furniture to food to clothing can now be purchased without ever leaving your home and often the online products end up being cheaper. Online shopping is so popular that we’ve even written an online shopping guide for you. But when it comes to buying clothes online, there’s a hitch.

Most products only need to be scrutinized for quality, but clothing needs to fit. Reviews can be helpful — as long as you ignore the fake user reviews The Scourge Of The Web: Fake Reviews & How To Spot Them The Scourge Of The Web: Fake Reviews & How To Spot Them "User reviews" are actually a pretty recent phenomenon. Before the prevalence of the Internet, user reviews were called testimonials, and you’d only see them on TV commercials and product pages. Nowadays, anyone can write anything... Read More — when determining quality, but clothing fit is something more personal and unique. That trendy jacket or stylish pair of boots might look good on its own, but if it doesn’t complement your body shape, it’ll be a regrettable purchase.

Don’t laugh, guys. This isn’t a problem that’s exclusive to women. If your clothes don’t fit properly, you won’t look good in them regardless of sex. Fortunately, there are some ways to ensure that your clothes fit well even if you can’t try them on prior to purchase.

Measure Your Measurements

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Before you can find clothes that fit you, you need to know what it means for clothes to fit. That means you need to find yourself a measuring tape — preferably the soft kind meant for body measurements and not the aluminum kind meant for straight edges.

Which measurements do you need? At the very least, you need to know the size of your chest, shoulders, waist, hips, sleeve length, leg inseam, and shoe size. In addition, it would be beneficial for men to know their neck size (for dress shirts) and for women to know their bust size (for bras).

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There’s a general method used for finding these measurements, so don’t just go and measure yourself carelessly. Here are quick guides to measuring men and measuring women.

Consult the Size Chart

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Most online clothing retailers provide a size chart for their items. You know how most shirts, jackets, gloves, etc. are measured in small, medium, large, and so on? Well, the meanings of those sizing tiers are not standardized in any way between retailers, so a small at Gap might be a medium elsewhere. This is where the size chart comes in handy.

The size chart gives you a conversion of sizing tiers into actual measurements. Each retailer has its own size chart, so it’s imperative that you check the size charts for every new retailer that you browse. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that you “wear medium” when in reality you might be a small at one place and a large at another place.

Find the Retailers That Fit You

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It’s no secret that different clothing retailers cater to different demographics. The clothes you find at H&M are designed for a different body shape than the clothes you find at Lane Bryant, which means you’re going to have to do some research to find the difference between retailers: petite, plus size, classics, forward fashion, etc.

Are you stuck shopping at only a handful of stores? Of course not. But in the interest of making sure that the clothes you buy online fit you when they’re delivered, you’re better off finding a few stores that you’ve verified to carry clothes in your size and sticking to them when you don’t have the option to try it before you buy it. Feel free to deviate when shopping in a physical store.

Visit the Store First

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In a perfect world, we’d be able to test the fit of a piece of clothing just from measurements and user reviews. Unfortunately, it’s not always so simple. If the information is unavailable or unreliable, there’s little more you can do other than play the online shopping lottery — order it and hope it meets your expectations once delivered.

So as a last resort, if you can’t determine the fit of a piece just from online information, your best bet is to visit a physical store that holds the item and try it on. Is it less convenient? Yes. Does it defeat the purpose of shopping online? Not entirely since online shopping is great for finding something you like, plus the prices might still be better.

Will trying it on in the store prevent a lot of buyer’s remorse? Definitely. Shopping online is great but don’t use that as an excuse to never try things on in the store.

Know the Return Policy

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The unfortunate truth is that no matter how much effort you put into finding clothes that fit, some just aren’t going to match your body. In fact, I once tried something on in the store, which fit perfectly, then ordered it online (because it was cheaper) and… it didn’t fit right. What do you do when this happens?

You could keep it and deal with it as is, but most people will end up returning it. This is why it’s crucial that you always read and understand an online retailer’s return policy before you make a purchase. Some stores are plain awesome and will both provide a box and pay for return shipping. Others will put the brunt of the expenses on you.

Conclusion

There’s a lot of preparation and research that goes into clothing shopping online, but it’s worth it in the end. Personally, I’ve experimented across many online retailers over the past year or so, but now I have a set list of places that won’t disappoint me. This has saved me a lot of time and frustration and now I can comfortably buy clothes that fit me straight from the Internet.

If you need ideas on possible places to shop, you should check out the following fashion blogs for men 7 Men’s Fashion & Style Blogs That You Should Follow 7 Men’s Fashion & Style Blogs That You Should Follow Ever since the proliferation of services like Blogger (formerly Blogspot) and Wordpress in the mid-2000's, blogging has grown to become one of the largest corners of the Internet. Recently, this corner has been dubbed the... Read More and fashion blogs for women 7 Womens Style & Fashion Blogs That You Should Follow 7 Womens Style & Fashion Blogs That You Should Follow Let me start this post off with a sort of disclaimer: I'm not a woman. Because of that, this article will inevitably be skewed in a certain way. I’m not a woman, so I don’t... Read More .

Do you regularly shop for clothes online? What tips do you have when making a purchase? How do you avoid buying clothes that are too small or too big? Share your experiences with us in the comments!

Image Credit: Oversized jeans Via Shutterstock, Measurements Via Shutterstock, Oversized Hat Via Shutterstock, Women Picking Clothes Via Shutterstock, Woman Fitting Room Via Shutterstock, No Return Via Shutterstock

  1. Stephanie S
    November 12, 2013 at 7:42 am

    I shop almost 90% online any more. First of all, it is nearly impossible to find pants that fit my hubby in the local stores. Yes, I could shop at Macys or Nordstroms, etc but they are not located close to me and too expensive. We are on a fixed income so have to watch our budget closely. We have been able to find his waist size but not the inseam that is right for him in the stores here. I can get what he needs online at Blair. I buy almost all of my clothes too at Blair. I have been disappointed only twice with what I ordered. I typically buy the same type of clothes which I know they carry.
    I buy nearly all Christmas gifts online too. The only downside is that the grandkids change their minds at the last minute and that has caused some problems. They are gracious and appreciative of the gift but I know that it isn't what they really want. However, as they have matured, that issue has lessened. I don't buy clothing for anyone other than hubby or me. Just too tricky in sizes. One granddaughter who is 16 is nearly 6 foot and has a 37 inch inseam. Pants for her are very expensive. Plus, with teenagers, they are way picky so I don't bother. I agree with Joel that sticking with the retailers you have had success with is the best value for your dollar.

  2. dragonmouth
    November 10, 2013 at 12:29 am

    I know from personal experience that in footwear sizes are not uniform. I can wear anywhere from a 7.5 to a 9.5 depending on a manufacturer. Sometimes I have even found that the sizing varies between models made by the same manufacturer. Nikes run small. Adidas run narrow. New Balance run big.

    • Joel L
      November 12, 2013 at 2:17 am

      Yeah, unfortunately the clothing world isn't standardized between brands. For example, I've noticed that boots tend to be a bit bigger than regular shoes, so I often have to size down half when buying boots. It can be frustrating for those who don't read reviews ahead of time.

  3. Kobi
    November 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Ps. I meant to rate article 5 stars but my iPad hit wrong star. ;(
    Sorry.

    Great 5 star article!

  4. Kobi
    November 9, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Hi,
    Nice article! I shop online and have some "shopping" sites but only one really has any clothing. Shoes tend to be easier to shop for in general. For me for personally I'm much more likely to buy brands I know fit me well and yes people can actually save a significant amount of money and time which are both important factors to me. Most larger retailers such as Amazon.com, Macy's.com etc. provide retuns slips. Who doesn't like getting packages delivered to you for free as well at home or work? It's just easy!

    One of the things I've done for years is purchase ALL holiday gifts online and have them shipped (free) to Me! If you have gifts sent to your workplace you can wrap them there easily & in secret! If sent to your home just try to check for them before any kids may arrive home from school! Another thing I have done is have them sent to my neighbor & friend across the street! (we know the UPS guy which helps) ;)

    Also, I recently purchased a pair of women's jeans (which you've got to try on in my opinion) at a local dept. store. I loved them so much I did write a review on the store website. I also purchased 2 more pairs online and got a great deal! So going to the store itself is not a bad idea & once you know brands and sizes in general you'll be much better off shopping online!

    A very good article, thanks!
    KB
    Girlgoshopping.com

    • Joel L
      November 12, 2013 at 2:16 am

      Thanks for sharing, Kobi. That was great to read. :)

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