You Can Make Every Online Shopping Mission a Successful One

The secret to never returning anything is... getting your measurements right! (*All* of them.) Here's how.

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Size Is an Illusion

A tape measure is the only thing you can trust in this crazy, mixed-up world.
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Size inconsistency across brands is real, which is why it's no longer enough to know your size (what does that even mean when you're a 10 in one brand and a 6 in another?)—you need to know your measurements, too. Most online retailers will include an item's measurements (sleeve length, shoulder width, waist, etc), although that info is usually hidden in a linked size chart, or in a collapsible "sizing info" tab. Dig around until you find it!

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Know Your Conversions

Is there any bigger relief than when the size conversions all check out?

U.K. and U.S. sizes may use similar numbering systems, but, as anyone who has ordered something from a British retailer without double-checking the size conversion knows, a U.K. 4 is much smaller than a U.S. 4 (chalk it up to the fact that size 00 doesn't exist across the pond). Similarly, French and Italian shoe sizes differ just enough to make those French booties you ordered from an Italian website pinch your toes. Find a reliable size conversion chart (like the one below, from ASOS), screenshot it, and refer back to it when you're scrolling through a Danish eBay seller's shop, contemplating a purchase.

Keep this forever.
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Measurements: For the Guys

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Collar: Measure the round base of your neck, where a shirt collar would sit.

Sleeve: Measure from your shoulder joint to your wrist bone.

Chest: Wrap the tape measure around the widest part of your chest. Keep the tape measure straight, level, and parallel to the ground.

Hips: Stand with your legs six inches apart, and measure the fullest part of your hips.

Waist: Measure around your natural waistline, which is the smallest part of your waist (and the part that contracts when you bend). If you're not about that fitted look, stick a finger between yourself and the tape measure; it'll give you a little wiggle room.

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Shoulders: Measure your shoulders from tip to tip, making sure the tape measure is flat and snug against your back.

Inseam: You might need to enlist a friend for this one. Take off your shoes, stand up straight, and have someone measure your inner leg from your crotch to your foot. Or just grab a pair of pants that fit you really well, and measure the length from the crotch seam to the bottom of the leg.

Measurements: For the Girls

Bust: Measure the fullest part of your chest with your arms down.

Sleeve: Measure from your shoulder joint to your wrist bone.

Hips: Wrap a tape measure around the widest part of your hips—usually about seven inches down from your belly button—keeping it as straight and level as possible.

Waist: Measure around your natural waistline, which is the smallest part of your waist (and the part that contracts when you bend).

Inseam: Take off your shoes, stand up straight, and have a friend measure your inner leg from your crotch to your foot. Or just grab a pair of pants that fit you really well, and measure the length from the crotch seam to the bottom of the leg.

Shoulders: This measurement comes in handy when you're ordering blazers and fitted tops online. Measure your shoulders from tip to tip, making sure the tape measure is flat and snug against your back.

When in Doubt, Turn to the Reviews

Sometimes, the saltier the review, the more helpful it is.

So you've taken your measurements, saved them in your Notes app, stared at them for 15 minutes, and you're still not sure whether or not to order that dress you've been eyeing online? Head to the reviews! More and more retailers (like J.Crew, Anthropologie, and Bloomingdale's) are adding comments sections, where shoppers can hash it out over whether or not those kick-flare jeans really develop Saggy Butt after one wear.

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