How to buy clothes that fit you properly

I tried on a black and white jacket last week and emerged from the cubicle to examine the fit.  Even before I had time to register my reflection in the mirror, the sales assistant gushed, “You look great.  The jacket fits you so well.  It’s my favourite this season and I wear mine all the time.”

I know she was trying to be helpful, but what I appreciate when I’m trying on new clothes is a few minutes of quiet so I can react to how something feels and looks.

Here’s my mental checklist to determine if something fits AND flatters me.  I won’t buy anything unless it fulfills both sets of criteria. I know my list looks a bit OCD, but I have saved a lot of money this way by not buying things that don’t measure up.

Check for comfort and fit

Before you look at yourself in the mirror, close your eyes and concentrate on how the garment feels. Does it feel light or heavy?  Stiff or supple? Tight or loose? Is it constricting any part of your body? Is it comfortable?

Trying on things “blind” trains you to appreciate what good fit, fabric and texture feel like on your body.   Sometimes we over exaggerate the importance of how a garment looks and forget to consider how it feels.

You can open your eyes now. How does the top or jacket fit around your bust? Can you button it up?  Or stretch your hands out without any pulling or creasing?  Can you cross your arms comfortably?  Check that armholes are not too tight.  Sit in your pants. Are they comfortable? How much of your backside is on show?  Stand up.  Did the pants crease?  Do they hang properly?  Walk around. Do they move with you?

Focus on appearance and design

Examine yourself in a full-length mirror in good lighting. Look at yourself from all angles. What is your eye drawn to first?  A pattern? A colour? An embellishment?  Are you comfortable with attention being drawn to this part of your body?  Is the neckline flattering on you?  On a jacket, the stance (highest button on a jacket) should hit your chest at a flattering point.  The lower the stance, the deeper the v-shape and the more elongating the effect.

Are the shoulder seams sitting on your shoulders?  If you’re trying on a jacket, you will wear it unbuttoned the majority of the time.  Does it stay put on your shoulders or does it roll down your back?  Do not buy a jacket that doesn’t stay squarely on your shoulders.

Any item should skim over the contours of your body without being too tight.  Anything that wrinkles or puckers is too snug.  For pants, check there is no bunching in the crotch area. If there is, try a different cut, rise or size.  Fit trousers to the widest part of your body e.g. your hips and your bottom.  If there is gaping at the waist, a tailor can take in the waist.

Where does the length of the item fall on your body?  Any hemline creates a horizontal line across your body.  It is most flattering to have these horizontal lines fall at the narrowest parts of your body.  This is not a deal breaker because sleeve lengths, pant and skirt hems can be tailored to fit.

Now look at yourself in the mirror and take in the whole picture.  Make eye contact with yourself, smile and make a decision with confidence.

What are your dressing room tips to help you make the right decision with new purchases?  Share them with us below or write on our Facebook wall.

Thanks for reading.