Online Shopping Series: 3 Tips for Choosing Items That Fit

As a petite woman, I am no stranger to ordering clothing online. Many stores only carry their petite lines online, which means you quickly get used to ordering, trying on, and returning what doesn’t work out. That being the case, I’ve learned a few little tricks along the way that help me choose items that are more likely to fit.

I’m fairly lucky because I live in an area where most of the stores that I order from are also nearby–which means returning is easy when items don’t fit. That’s not the case for everyone, though. In fact, I grew up in an area with very little shopping nearby, so I had to be a lot more selective with the pieces that I decided to order. If that’s the case for you, try these tips to help you out:

1. Opt for silhouettes that you’re familiar with or flatter your body type. 

For example, if you’re pear-shaped, ordering dresses in A-line shapes is a safe bet. If you’re flat chested, a corset style or v-neck would enhance your bust line. If you are apple-shaped or uncomfortable with your waistline, sticking with a longer tunic style would likely work for you. If you’re not sure what styles flatter your figure, a good rule of thumb is to find pieces in your closet that you feel the best in. Odds are, you feel great wearing them because they flatter your figure. Look for pieces online that are similar in style or silhouette to those, and you should be safe in knowing you’ll feel good in it! For more on flattering your figure, check out this post.

2. Take advantage of extended sizing online. 

For me, this means selecting items that come in petite sizing. I already know that 9 times out of 10, if I order something in regular sizing, it won’t fit or will require tailoring. If it’s not an item that I would be willing to tailor, then it’s not even worth ordering in regular sizing. You can also review the measurements of items in the detailed descriptions online. If you really love something, and aren’t sure if it will fit you, measure your bust, waist, hips and/or inseam and then compare those measurements to the available sizing options.

As a general rule, petite sizing doesn’t usually just mean shorter inseams. The garments are typically cut a bit smaller all the way around, including the shoulder seams, and arm lengths. If that doesn’t work for your figure, you could be better off opting for something in regular sizing, and then having it hemmed or shortened. (This is most often the case for me with pants, because my butt is not petite, despite my waist and inseam measurements.)

3. Read reviews. 

Reviews can be incredibly helpful when it comes to sizing. There have been many cases where the reviews have led me to order up or down a size–or two sizes in the case of J.Crew intimates–that I wouldn’t have otherwise known. For that same reason, help out your friends and also leave your own review when something does/doesn’t work for you. I generally look for items with photos, but it’s not often the case that one has been uploaded. When that fails, look for people who identity similar sizing/measurements as you, and that should help you to determine if something is likely to work for you also.

Shopping online should not be a scary endeavor. I tend to prefer it because of the convenience, but also because the selection is so much greater online. If you’re hesitant, try the three simple tips above as a starting point, and let me know how they work out for you.

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