When Reddit user Victoria Valdes was shopping for a formal dress for an upcoming wedding, she grabbed one in her usual size—a six. It fit, and she was ready to buy when she decided to try it on in a different size, a 10, just to see.
That size fit, too.
“I don’t normally grab things in another size unless I literally don’t fit into what I’m currently wearing,” Valdes says. “However, I’ve been submitting my work-wear looks to the FFA (Female Fashion Advice) thread on Reddit for constructive criticism, so I’ve been slowly gaining more awareness about how things are supposed to fit.”
Valdes says she was “pretty amazed” by how flattering the dress was in the size 10. “I have been trying to incorporate this lesson into my try-ons since that time. Every time I put on a shirt, I look for pulling and for puckering, and if I see that, it’s off the list,” she says. “When I try on pants I check that they don’t bag in the seat, [and] that they also don’t pull across the hips and that I can sit down comfortably in them.”
Her experience proves it’s not just sizing from brand-to-brand that is inconsistent, but sometimes multiple sizes of the same item will be cut in a way that means more than one size fits you.
Shopping with that in mind is important, style expert Gretta Monahan says, especially if you’re shopping a store or designer you’re not familiar with. “All brands use different patterns and fit models to make their clothes, so don’t get fixated on the number you see on the label,” says Monahan. “That will only limit your style options and confidence.” Rather than looking at the tag, focus on the fit to guarantee you’re choosing clothes that flatter you and that you’ll feel amazing in. Here are Monahan’s tips for finding the right size for you.
- Always try on at least two sizes—but don’t be afraid to try three!—while you look for your perfect fit.
- For tops, the seam on the shoulder should line up with the fold of your underarm. “The most flattering length for a top (not tucked in) would be one that does not extend beyond the widest part of your hip,” Monahan says.
- If you see any pulling or gaps when a top is buttoned all the way up, try another size or cut.
- Buy bottoms snug if they have stretch so they will stay fitted after wear. “Heavy denim with no stretch will fit one to two times smaller than your typical pant or skirt sizes,” says Monahan.
- Mid-rise jeans are universally flattering: “Check to see that your waistband hits no more than two finger widths below belly button—usually right around the top of the hip bone,” she says.
Both Monahan and Valdes agree that letting go of the size on the label opens up a whole new wardrobe world. “As women, I think we’re trained to take our size number as a reflection of our value as a person,” says Valdes. “But the truth is, a beautiful body is a body that is well taken care of, loved, and treated with respect. If you can, it’s very freeing to stop taking the size personally.