A Fashion Designer’s Ultimate Guide to Find Clothes That Fit

Women all over the world go through a common struggle of not being able to find clothes that fit. No matter our shape or size, we can all relate to the experience of going to a store and trying on clothes that don’t look as flattering on our bodies as it did on the hanger. It can be extremely frustrating!

Have you ever worn an outfit that didn’t fit quite right when you put it on in the morning, but wore it anyway? It’s such an uncomfortable feeling to wear something that doesn’t fit well all day long. This discomfort is not just in a physical way, but also in a self-conscious way.

If it doesn’t fit perfectly or look like a million bucks at the store. Don’t buy it. Even if it’s something that you need, you should continue to shop around until you find clothing that fits better. There are so many clothing options available with the number of retailers in the United States alone. If you can’t find clothes that fit you, chances are, you’re looking in the wrong places. There are certainly clothes out there that will fit you correctly, no matter your shape and size.

 Every clothing company has a fit model that they use to base their clothing measurements off of, but each model is different. This means that from store to store and brand to brand, there will be sizing discrepancies. If you’re measurements don’t line up with the fit model’s you likely won’t be able to find clothing that fits correctly at that particular store. On the plus side, that means it won’t be the same at every store. The measurements and proportions will vary. While one store’s jeans fit you perfectly, another’s won’t. The key is find the stores that do fit you.

As someone who makes and designs clothes, I have a pretty good idea of what goes into making a garment fit. Here are some insider tips, from a fashion designer, to keep in mind next time you’re shopping in order to make sure that every garment you buy fits like a glove.

12 of the most common clothing fit issues and how to solve them no matter your shape or size. You will always look stylish when your clothes fit you properly. Learn a fashion designer's guide to shopping for clothes that fit perfectly every single time.

Get accurate measurements of your body

Use a tape measure or go to your local tailor and get exact measurements of your body. If you are measuring yourself, be sure to measure your body when you are wearing only a bra and underwear to get the most accurate measurements. Focus on your bust, natural waistline, actual waistline, and hips. These are the top four most important measurements to getting the correct fit in most clothing.

When online shopping, knowing your measurements is key. On a retailer’s website, you can view the product details and their sizing chart. By knowing where your measurements fall on the chart, you eliminate the struggle of trying to guess which size you should order. Don’t wait 3-5 business days for your order to arrive, only to find that it doesn’t fit at all, and needs to be shipped back.

Knowing the measurements of your body is critical for online shopping, but can also be helpful for in-store shopping as well. When shopping in-store, some retailers may have a posted sizing chart. Jot down your measurements in your phone to have them readily available while shopping. If the store doesn’t have measurements available, there are several apps you can download on your phone that allow you to view their clothing tend of run big, small, or true to size. There are also sites where you can type in your measurements and get an idea and of what sizes would fit you best at a variety of different retailers. Don’t take 4 sizes with you to the fitting room. Deciding which size fits you best will be time-consuming as well as frustrating.

Know your body type

Knowing your body and what type of clothes are most flattering is extremely necessary. Shopping with your body type in mind will help you control the amount of fit issues you have. Choose silhouettes that you know are most likely to flatter your body and make you feel confident. If you’re a pear shape and carry most of your weight in your bottom half, choose clothing that are more fitted on the bottom and don’t add a lot of excess volume to those areas. If you have broad shoulders, consider avoiding pieces, like blazers, that are very tailored. Knowing what looks best on your body will save you the frustration of trying to make clothes fit and keep you from buying clothes that you never wear. 

Stick with the same stores

Once you find clothing that works great with your body, stick with those brands. It’s okay to be repetitive and always go back to the stores that you know work the best. When you know your size and the clothing is consistent for you, shopping is much simpler.

Also, shop at the stores you like, not where your friends like to shop. Everyone has their own favorite stores and brands. What works for them, may not work for you. Maybe you have a notion in your mind that it’s not cool or trendy to shop at Gap. However, if you find that their jeans fit you the best, why wouldn’t you shop there? Forget about the label and focus on the fit.

Ignore the size on the tag

Obsessing over the number on the sales tag is the last thing you want to pay attention to. Every retailer has different sizing and this can sometimes be misleading. A size 8 at one store may be a size 6 at another store or a size 10 at different one.

Some retailers purposely scale their sizes smaller. This means a size 8 is marked as a size 6. It is called vanity sizing and is done to make people to feel better about how they perceive their bodies and make them more willing to make a purchase. If you walked into a store and find that a size 6 fits you great, when you usually wear a size 8, you will likely feel happy and skinny. You’re going to feel like you must have lost weight to be able to fit into a size 6. You’re going to buy that garment.

The reverse effect may also happen. You may typically wear a size 8 dress, but you can’t even get it zipped at a particular store. You find that going up a size to a 10 fits much better. However, buying a larger size than you usually wear makes you feel bad about your body and less likely to buy.

All of these garments have one thing in common, they all fit the same. The only difference between them is the number on the tag. The fit of the garment is much more important than what the size says. Letting the number affect you, is one of the most common reasons people have problems with their clothes fitting properly. They have it in their minds that they wear a certain size and anything else is insulting. Don’t take it personally.

Shop to fit your biggest part

A garment may not fit you in all areas, but this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t fit you at all. Make sure that it fits well in the biggest part of your body. For example, if you’re buying a skirt, double check how well it fits in the hips above all else. it can always be taken in and tailored to fit better at your waist. Or if you’re buying a button-down top, make sure the buttons lay flat across the bust even if the sleeves are too long. If it fits well in your largest area, the others can always be adjusted at a tailor’s. If you purchase clothing that is too small for your largest areas, there is nothing that can be done to fix it. It will sit in your closet and never get worn because it didn’t fit right when you bought it.

Be sure to try them on before purchasing

Test them. This includes lifting your arms and legs, sitting in a chair,  and generally moving around. Doing this will give you an idea of how restrictive it is going to be. Let’s face it, standing completely still with your hands at your sides isn’t going to make up much of your daily activities. You need to buy garments that are going to move with you throughout your day and lifestyle.

Trying them on is very important to get a good idea of how it will look as well as feel. There are many people who will buy things they didn’t try on because they didn’t want the hassle of trying them on in the store, only have a bigger hassle of returning it all a few days later. I will admit that I done this from to time and I’m sure you have too, but I urge you not to do this.

When you try on clothes, you are given a lot of critical information in determining whether or not you’re going to be happy with your purchase. Use this to your advantage! Don’t leave the dressing room with clothes that don’t fit. Below, are 12 of the most common clothing fit issues and how you can solve them before you buy them.

12 of the most common clothing fit issues and how to solve them no matter your shape or size. You will always look stylish when your clothes fit you properly. Learn a fashion designer's guide to shopping for clothes that fit perfectly every single time.

How to Identify and Solve Common Fit Issues:

1. Pants or skirts that pucker and pull at the crotch

They are too tight at the hips. Play around with different rises and styles. A high waisted pant versus a low rise pant may fit you very differently. Similarly, a skinny jean versus a boot cut jean may have differences in measurements. You want it to fit in both the waist and the hips, instead of one or the other.

2. Excess, bunching fabric in pants when sitting or walking

They are too big in the hips and inseam. This means the crotch of the pants is sitting to low on your body. Try a smaller size or, similarly to the answer above, try on different rises and styles until you find a pair with a better proportion for your body.

3. Muffin top in pants and skirts

It is too tight in the waist. You should be able to comfortably fit two fingers in the waistband of your pants. If it is too tight, it can cause a muffin top in even the fittest stomachs.

If you can fit two finger and it does not feel too tight, it may just be hitting you at an unflattering point. Choose a high rise style to prevent this from happening.

4. Buttons pulling on jackets, tops, or dresses:

The blouse, jacket, or top is too tight through the chest. Try on a larger size to properly fit your chest. As mentioned above, always shop for the largest part of your body and tailor the other areas.

5. Limited arm mobility in jackets, tops or dresses

You should be able to reach around and give yourself a hug to test how constrictive a garment is. If you have a hard time moving your arms around and stretching, it is too tight in the armholes or sleeves. Find a larger size or a different style that gives you more room to breathe.

6. Identify the shoulder seam on jackets, tops, or dresses

The shoulder seam should sit directly on your shoulder. If it is off the shoulder, it is too big and you should find a smaller size. If the shoulder seam is riding up past the shoulder, it is too small and you should try a larger size. Making sure a dress fits at the shoulder is key. If it fits poorly there, the entire dress will be off balance and will not hang well on the body.

7. The armholes gape on sleeveless tops and dresses

The garment is likely too big. You don’t want to be able to see your bra through the armhole on sleeveless garments. Consider trying on a smaller size that will hug the body closer. However, if it fits great in the bust, the side seams can always be taken in or the shoulder seams raised and adjusted after purchase to stop the gaping.

8. Identify the waistline

Make sure waistline matches up with your actual waist. If the waist is too high or low it will affect the proportions and throw off the fit of the rest of the garment. For example, if a dress has a waistline too high, it may also not fit well in the hips or bust. Many people may assume that because it does not fit in the hips, that they are the problem area. However, by identifying that the waist is the actual issue, and not the hips, you will be able to find a garment that does fit properly.

9. Pant legs and sleeves too long

 Pant legs and sleeves are easily fixable with a quick trip to your local tailor. Don’t worry about the length and instead, make sure it fits well in other parts of your body.

10. Pant legs and sleeves too short

Try a larger size. It may or may not help. Every garment is different. Consider hemming too short pants  to a chic cropped length or a long sleeve into a 3/4 length that looks purposeful if you are in between sizes.

11. More than one of these issues

 Leave it on the rack. Sometimes, no matter what size we try, some garments just aren’t going to work for our bodies. Know when a piece of clothing is a lost cause and walk away.

12. You’re in between sizes

One size fits you well in one area and another fits you better in a different area. This means that you are in the middle of the two. If you can’t decide which is more flattering, check the return policy and buy both. Take them home, wear them around your house, and try them on with things you already own. More than likely, one of them will be overall more flattering than the other.

Don’t waste another trip to the store. Use these tips to find clothes that fit!

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39 thoughts on “A Fashion Designer’s Ultimate Guide to Find Clothes That Fit

  1. Wow, this was incredibly educational for me! I had no idea about… almost all of these! Thanks so much for sharing your insights! I am 100% saving this and using these tips next time I shop!!

    1. Thank you! 🙂 I completely agree with that! I’m willing to shop anywhere that I can find something that fits.

    1. Thanks! Great question. Your natural waistline falls at the smallest part of your abdomen between your bust and stomach. If you bend from side to side, you can see and feel where it creases. This is your natural waist line, which comes in handy for skirts and dresses. Your actual waistline is where your pants typically sit and is usually several inches below the natural waistline. Hope this helps!

    1. That’s such a good point. It can be so hard to figure out what size works best when you’re in between. Maybe I will write another post that expands on that! I appreciate your input!

  2. Great tips, all super helpful! I’m totally guilty of buying things that are just okay and then hating it every time I wear it. I’m actually going shopping on Saturday so I’ll use these tips then!

  3. Thank you for reminding me why I can only really wear knits ! it’s just too frustrating to try to find anything suitable in a woven fabric. Luckily neither my boss nor my husband really cares what I wear.

  4. Cool…so much good info here! I’ve always been one that once I find a store who’s clothes fit me well, I tend to go there for everything.

  5. Great tips! So frustrating when you try to order online and not knowing what tag size to buy because they ALL seem different!

  6. Great tips. I wish it was more feasible to order clothes online, bc this mama of eight doesn’t get out shopping much. Taking my measurements is a great idea- I think I’ll go by those rather than sizing more often.

    1. You’ve certainly got your hands full! I know I’ve ordered things online that seemed like they would fit, but when they showed up the sizing was way off. At least knowing your measurements might give you a better idea! Hope it helps.

  7. I had no idea! I struggle with my weight and used to buy clothes that I was determined I would fit in. Boy was that waste! I’m getting better but definitely saving this for next time.

  8. Great ideas! I agree with sticking to one or two stores you like. I just stick with Everlane and Grana because it’s my style and it fits me well. 🙂

  9. I love these tips! And while it is always tempting to buy the smaller size, I have to remember that I dry all my clothes so they shrink! It’s a mental thing to learn to ignore the number on the tag!

  10. You said something that really stood out for me–because I do it. I settle for good enough or close enough and really need to stop! Why would I spend money on something I don’t feel good in? Often, I come home and have to get right out of my work clothes because some or all of my outfit is uncomfortable. I’m so glad you helped me see the light! 🙂

    1. I”m so glad to hear that it resonated with you!It’s such a common problem and I’m guilty of it too. I really hope this helps!

  11. Great tips! I just wish clothing manufacturers would realize that many women have curves especially ethnic women. I have never been able to find jeans that fit right nor pants. And this was pre-children size 2-4 and post-children, ahem much larger but I won’t post my size now. LOL! But whether small or large there are just some styles that I could never wear because of my God-given curves. So that’s why I pretty much love wearing maxi skirts now. 😉 But the measuring thing is very helpful! Maybe things will improve for me. Thanks!

    1. I can totally understand where you’re coming from and agree that most clothes are made for women with curves (which is almost every woman!). I certainly hope they improve for you!

  12. Wow! I learn so much from this post. I’ve struggle a little with finding the right fit dresses but started making sure I bought outfits that flatter my better features. I will definitely use your tips for future shopping trips.

  13. What a fantastic resource this is! If I would have known all these and kept them in mind while shopping, I would’ve saved myself a lot of headache, frustration, and tears while clothes shopping! Thanks for sharing!

  14. These are such great tips! I HATE shopping, especially trying on clothes. I pretty much just keep buying the same stuff online very year from the same 3 stores because it’s easy.

    1. Thank you! That’s so awesome for you. Once I know something fits, I stick with it too (and buy the same thing in several colors!)

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