How to Shop for New Clothes Successfully

This week, I was humbled by a pair of leggings. Twice.

I had a gift card and decided to treat myself to a l’il matching set. I’ve been trying to look more put together when I leave the house, and coordinating your top and bottom is an easy way to do that while still basically heading out into the world wearing couch clothes.

Without getting into exact sizing, I will say that I ordered leggings in what usually constitutes my size. When the package arrived in the mail, the sweatshirt fit great while the leggings looked like they might fit my six-year-old niece. Maybe.

So I trekked over to the store on Fifth Avenue, and swapped them for the next size up. That would have to work, right? They didn’t have them in stock, so once again, they were ordered online and shipped to the apartment.

And once again, I pulled them out of the packaging and had to laugh. They were definitely bigger, but big enough for my adult body? Unclear.

I gingerly inserted a leg and started to tug. I got as far as my mid-thigh when I realized the entire waist was now snugly encompassing just one leg. There was no way I was getting these leggings on.

It was giving Tommy Boy

Thankfully, I didn’t let this shopping disaster ruin my day. I was able to laugh about it, and it even got me thinking of a few strategies for shopping more successfully that I wanted to share with you.

Below, 4 ways to get the sizing right the first time on your next clothing purchase:

Know Your Measurements

This is your sizing superpower when it comes to shopping online, especially. Get a tailor’s tape and learn your key measurements – chest, waist, shoulders.

Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently navigate different size charts…provided you actually bother to check them (clearly, I didn’t).

Embrace the Fitting Room

Someone from out of town recently asked me, “Where’s your favorite place to shop in New York City?” and it stumped me. Because I almost never shop in-person. I’m an online girlie all the way. But my lululemon experience reminded me that when trying a brand you’re less familiar with, it’s good to go IRL if you can.

While no one really likes trying on clothes, remember that a fitting room is not a torture chamber, it’s your friend. Arm yourself with a range of sizes in the same item to save yourself from having to pad back out to the floor in your socks looking for the next size up or down after the first attempt is a bust.

Check your ego at the fitting room door

We’ve all been there. Holding two near-identical shirts, the only difference a single, judgmental number on the tag. It’s a primal fear, the tyranny of the size label. But here’s the truth: that number is meaningless.

It’s time to break free from the size delusion and shop for clothes that fit, not a fantasy number.

Why? Well, firstly because sizing is wildly inconsistent across brands. A medium in one label might fit you like a wedding tent in another.

Secondly, because focusing on size leads to emotional shopping, prioritizing a number over how the garment actually looks and feels on you.

So, how to break the cycle? Focus on how the clothes you’re trying on fit, not the number on the tag.

A well-fitting garment will hug your body (in a good way) and move comfortably with you.

You can get frustrated about the inconsistencies of shopping, or just get zen and go with the fashion flow. To save your sanity, choose the latter.

Befriend Your Local Tailor

Okay, so this tip can’t save my too-small leggings, but when it comes to non-stretch fabrics, listen up! A good tailor can transform a good fit into a great fit. Minor adjustments can elevate an okay garment to one you’ll wear on repeat.

The bottom line?

Size doesn’t matter when it comes to shopping!

Because really, truly, the size on the label doesn’t define you. In fact, it doesn’t even define the size you wear.

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