How to Avoid Fitting Issues When Ordering Clothing Online


This global pandemic has caused many of us to reevaluate how we do things – including shopping. We order our groceries and utilize curbside, order takeout food instead of dining in, and all forms of online shopping (including clothing) are gaining popularity.

There are obviously lots of benefits to this option. Unfortunately, though, when it comes to women’s bodies, it can be very confusing. No brand will be exactly the same for sizing. If you have never worn a particular brand before, it would be even more confusing to guess which size to order.

Here are a few ways to help avoid returning items due to fit size.

Measure, Measure, Measure Again

First of all, you should know your measurements. A size range of approximate measurements will help you order correctly. The exact number of inches may fluctuate a little. Write down each one and check it monthly to see if it has changed.


Wrap the tape measure around the fullest part with a bra on that you would normally wear for the garment in question.


Wrap the tape measure firmly around the most narrow point of your waistline, usually right at navel or a little above it. This should be done standing up comfortably.


Measure the area of your hips 4 to 6 inches down from top of the hipbone (should be the fullest part of your hips).


Measure from your crotch center to the top of your ankle or the floor (whichever you prefer for pants).

These are just some basic measurements. For tailored pieces you may want to measure other areas more carefully. Most clothing companies have their own size charts, so don’t forget to check them out. When your size range falls in between sizes, it is best to order a tad bigger than smaller.

Alter the Garments Yourself or Pay a Seamstress

Do you know how to sew? Even if you don’t sew regularly, if you own a sewing machine (or in some cases just hand needles, pins, and thread) you can certainly alter your garments with ease!

For Hems

Using your standard measurements, compare against the garment piece and write down the difference. Next, try on the garment in front of a mirror. Pin the pant to the desired length. The next step is to cut the extra length off.

But before you do, consider that you will need an inch to an inch and a half to allow the fabric to be folded over.

For example, your inseam is 25″, but the pants are only available in a 28″ inseam. The difference is 3″, but you will only be cutting 2″ off and using the difference to fold over 1″ and sew directly on top.

When I sew a hem on jeans for example, I cut off the difference minus 1.5″, serge off the raw edges (you can zig zag if you don’t have a serger), then make my folded hem about 1″. You will want to use a ruler when measuring and mark with chalk or a colored pencil on the folded area. This will not be seen once sewn.

The final steps are to sew it with a straight stitch (backstitching), being sure that the presser foot stays the same distance while sewing in order to get a neat line. I prefer sewing 2 rows about 1/8″ apart on hems. Then, press again to ensure neatness.

Note: Be sure once one leg is hemmed and ironed, the other side is pinned matching up carefully, lying flat.

Hem tape is also widely available for no-sew hemming.

To Take in Straps

Cut the straps at 3/4″ above the desired length. Sew by hand or machine back on, neatly tucking the extra seam allowance and sewing raw edges if needed.

To Take in

Try the garment on inside out, and pin it in front of a mirror to the correct size. Sew straight-stitch, being sure to back-stitch. This will work only if it is a few inches or less difference.

To Let Out Blouses

If a button up is too narrow through the waist and hips, there is a neat trick to try using inserts. Cut down the center, and replace it with a narrow, long piece (shaped like a triangle) of fabric of your choice. Sew each side, being cautious at the point. This adds style too if you choose a contrasting fabric such as lace.

Of course, marking these items and taking to a local tailor or seamstress is also an option!

Be Patient!

Last but not least, there will be some situations where buying and trying on at home and exchanging for a different size is the only option. I recently experienced this when trying a different brand of bras. It was handled smoothly though, and at least I now know what size to order again from that retailer.

There are so many options to be sure you will be happy with your online fashion purchases! With all of these ideas and the expanding customer service policies of 2020, there should be no reason you cannot find beautifully fitted pieces that you love wearing. The important thing is that you are safe and having fun with the process!

When was the last time you ordered clothing that didn’t fit well? What did you do with it? Have you tried altering a garment that you liked and didn’t want to return? What can you share about your online shopping experience and DIY clothes alterations? Please use the comment box below and let’s exchange stories!

Let\’s Have a Conversation!

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