Essential Guide to Finding Clothes That Fit Right

buying clothes

Buying clothes is relatively easy.

We know our measurements, we know what we like, and if it’s in our size then it’s going in the basket.

However, once we get it on we might find that it rides up our back too much, or it leaves our ankles exposed, or it just doesn’t accentuate our curves the way it was flattering the model’s in the picture.

Buying clothes in the right size is easy. What’s not so easy is buying clothes that fit right.

Many of us look at well-dressed celebrities with envy as they wear perfectly flattering garments that seem to stick to all the right places and show off all the right things. Really, what we should be jealous of is their fashion consultant and their tailor who has access to the inside knowledge.

But it doesn’t have to be a secret. We’re going to provide you with a quick guide that defines all the things you should look out for to find that perfect fit.

There are two categories that determine finding your right fit. These are simply Horizontal Dimensions, and Vertical Dimensions, and we’ll cover everything that falls into those categories below.

A diagram of a man and a woman's body


Horizontal dimensions simply refer to the relationship between your bust, hip, and waist measurements.

There are six horizontal figure types and we’re familiar with around three: The Hourglass Body, the Oval Body, and the Diamond Body. What we may not be so familiar with are the Inverted-Triangle Body, the Rectangle Body, and the Triangle body.

Whichever of these categories your body fits into, the same rule applies for horizontal dimensions. The following aspects should be checked (and measured) before you take the label off that new sweater and place it in your wardrobe:


The top, or the seam, of the sleeve, should line up with the very boniest part of your shoulders. It should not droop down your arm, or sneak up toward your neck.

This is likely to result in either an unflattering droop around the neckline or a top that rides up too far at the back.


Most commonly an area for women, but the same rules can also apply here for men wearing suits or tighter-fitting formal shirts.

The first thing to look out for is either bulging buttons or gaping holes between the buttons. This implies it’s much too tight, and you’re likely to be left exposed to a button caving, popping, or opening.

However, if you do have gaps between the buttons but it’s a great fit everywhere else, you could add hook or eye closures to replace the buttons, or simply – if you’re textile skilled enough – move the buttons.

For ladies who have a zip on the back of the item, ensure there is no pulling or puckering. The item needs to drape to accentuate, rather than pull.

As a last tip for both men and women: If you can’t steer your car without straining across the bust, pecs, or shoulders, or you can’t give a hug for the fabric pulling tightly across your back: It’s too tight and needs returning.


For garments like jeans, skirts, evening trousers, or leggings, there should be around two fingers of so-called wiggle room between your skin and the fabric.

If you can’t comfortably fit two fingers between the waistband of your item and your skin, this is a no-go and you should try one size up.

Our bodies change size during the day. Bloating caused by a big meal, or our core tucking in after a workout can all change the size of our waist at different points of the day. The last thing you will need is for your clothes to become too tight fitting or too loose around your waist, as it can become uncomfortable or embarrassing if it keeps sliding down.


When finding the right fit for our hips, this one needs a little further evaluation than all other areas of the body.

To truly find out if your garment is sitting comfortably around, over, or on your hips: Sit down, stand up, bend down, and crouch.

In our daily lives, our hips do a lot to stabilize our daily movements, which means our clothing needs to keep up with their pace.

The first thing to check for is any pulling across the front or back. This can be especially highlighted in a front zipper: If that’s pulling or straining, it’s not a good sign as this is something to stay away from at all costs.

If the fabric billows or doesn’t lay flat around either your hips or thighs, go down a size. Another tip is if bunching occurs around the front pocket area of the item, you can also have these removed for a flattering look.

shopping bags


Vertical measurements refer to a number of different areas of the body. These include your back length, which is measured from your neck to your waist, your shoulder to waist length which takes into consideration the build of your shoulders and length of your arms, your bust to shoulder length, your bust to waist length, and of course your two hips to waist lengths.

Most of us overlook vertical measurements unless we’re getting an item tailored, but it’s one of the most crucial components to finding a perfect fit.


The first place to begin on vertical measurements is also the most obvious.

The cuffs of any shirt should reach just past your wrist. If this doesn’t happen, it will end up making a product look oversized on you, or awkward fitting because it’s likely to rise at the back or be tight across the shoulders.

The one golden rule is if the cuffs aren’t reaching below your wrist: It’s likely to not fit somewhere else either, so change sizes.


Any fitted waist should line up with your natural waist. That might sound counterintuitive seeing as many of us shop for products that try to shrink our waists, but actually, we should be putting our natural goods on show.

To find your natural waist size, slide your hands from under your rib cage down towards your hips whilst bending from side to side. Stop when your hands settle naturally on your waistline. Don’t move, and ask someone to measure from left to right. This is your natural waist size.


Vertical leg measurements can be broken down into two further sections.

Shorter Leg Lengths

If you have bought a pair of jeans or trousers that are just slightly longer than you anticipated, removing either one or two inches from the inseam shouldn’t cause a problem.

But if you begin removing more than that, you could risk altering the product beyond belief. For bootcuts and flares, the shape should widen at the knee. This means if too much is removed, the break may begin at your shins which will result in a disproportionate (and unflattering) leg line.

If a product is too long over the ankle, it’s best to try and just go down a size.

Longer Leg Lengths

In certain products, extra fabric will be allowed for the seam to drop the hem. However for those of us 5ft 7” and above, we should be aiming for a tall fit.

Tall fits accentuate the legs better and are a better fit around the waist, crotch, and hips.

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