As far as the numbers or letters sewn inside your clothes, size doesn't matter. This is especially true for secondhand shopping, but a good rule for regular retail shoppers as well. Measurements are the key to getting a great fit - let me prove it to you and show you why a measuring tape should be your favorite new shopping buddy.
As a personal shopper for clients and a shopper for my personal closet, I've seen over and over again the inconsistencies with sizing. This occurs across brands, as well as, within brands and the variety of intended fits (i.e. skinny, perfect, relaxed, over-sized) only exaggerates the problem. Shopping secondhand comes with an added element of difficulty because of how items have been laundered or cared for by the previous owner.
The easy solution to the reality that size tags are merely a suggestion? Use your measurements! This does not require a trip to the tailor, just a few items that fit you well and a fabric measuring tape. Here's what you can do to get a better fit and take advantage of even more thrifted finds.
What you'll need:
- a fabric measuring tape
- a top that fits (I suggest a fitted woven shirt or a tee that fits comfortably)
- pants that fit (nothing with too much stretch like tight leggings)
How to measure:
These are the basic dimension I like to measure for tops.
Chest - measure across the shirt at about 1" below the armpit
Note - similar measurements can be taken across the waist or hips if these are areas you find challenging to fit in tops.
Length - measure from the middle of the shoulder to the bottom hem
Note - if you often have trouble with sleeve length you can also measure a long sleeve top from the shoulder seam to the sleeve cuff to determine your best length.
These are the basic dimensions I like to measure for bottoms.
Waist - measure across the top of the waistband
Note - similar measurements can be taken across the hips, thighs, or calves if these are areas you find challenging to fit.
Rise - measure from crotch cross seam to waistband
Inseam - measure from crotch cross seam to leg opening
Note - it can be useful to measure the inseam of an ankle length pant and a pair that you would wear with heels to determine the inseam range that works for you.
Dresses and Skirts - Measuring for dresses and skirts is very easy as well. For dresses, use the existing measurements for chest and waist but measure from the shoulder to the bottom hem to determine your ideal length or range. For skirts, you will use the waist measurement from the pants and determine length by measuring from the middle of the waistband to the bottom hem.
My biggest tip is to carry a fabric tape measure with you when shopping, especially when shopping secondhand. The five main measurements detailed above - chest, length, waist, rise and inseam - are very easy to obtain from items on the hangers. Use tag sizes only as a starting point, then measure anything you love or anything that looks like it might be a good fit.
Remember that no one can see a size tag when you're wearing a garment - they only see how it fits you and how it compliments your figure. Focus on fit and your ideal measurements to find items you feel awesome in - size doesn't matter.