Getting your size right when shopping online is no laughing matter. If you live in the US, you may be faced with thinking your normal size is the correct one for ordering. You may be right, but the truth is, much of the time you will be dead wrong. Unfortunately, the errors generally come on the tight fitting side rather than on the one size too large.
Here is a good example. Let's say you wear a size 12 in standard US sizing. You know for sure that a size 12 is your size. You order something from the UK sized as a 12. That is going to be two sizes too small. The equivalent of a 12 in the UK standard sizes is a 14. The same example only this time your apparel is sized in typical Asian (mostly Chinese) sizing. Your size 12 in the US must be ordered from Asian sources as a 2XL in the vast majority of cases.
Why the Problem?
There are no international standards for apparel sizing. Even within sizes, there are differences due to cutting and sewing however in this case the size will always be within normal tolerances. Let's look at the example of the American size 12. The standard EU size equivalent to the American 12 is size 42. But if you are in France, an EU country, the size is a 44. In Italy, you would need a size 48. In the UK, a size 14. The Asian equivalent is a 2XL.
As an American retailer, I am as frustrated by this sizing problem as you are as an online shopper. The idea that a standard size makes sense seems to run counter to the politics of national manufacturing interests. So the alternative is quite simple. Keep our customers alerted to sizing and country of origin. We do this by including sizing charts provided by our vendors. We strongly suggest that you pay attention to those charts when figuring out your proper size. After all, you can't try on different sizes online. We also include, where appropriate, notification that sizes may run small or larger than advertised. Pay attention to those suggestions as well. It will save you, and us, much time and frustration.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
Clearly, there is a burden on the shop to do its level best to keep customers informed. But there are also some things you can do to assure that you have done your best to get the size right. Here are a few:
Know Your Measurements
Knowing your measurements is a large part of the battle. Most of our size charts show measurements for a given size designation. Mostly we show size charts in imperial measures but if the size chart is made by a supplier outside the US it will often be in metric measures. You may have to convert from metric to inches. Tech takes care of that for you. There are a number of free phone apps that make the conversion easy.
Know Your Vendor's Return Policy
There will be times when you will buy something and have to return it. What is the store's return policy? I began my retail career at Marshall Field & Company in Chicago. Marshall Field himself had his customer's interests at heart when he created the simplest return policy known to the human race. "Give the lady what she wants." If you bought something at Field's you could return it with absolutely no questions asked. When Field made this famous policy around the turn of the 20th century he clearly did not have sexism on his mind. In today's terms, our return policy is the same as Marshall Field's. GIVE THE CUSTOMER WHAT S/HE WANTS! We do not ask questions or give you a hard time. Let us know within 30 days of receipt of your order, we'll send you a return ticket number. Mail it back to the address we provide you and we'll either refund your purchase price or we'll make an exchange. It couldn't be easier.
One Last Thing
We have created a general Comparative Sizing Chart comparing sizes from EU standard size, French, Italian, UK, American, and Asian sizes. We would love to send it to you as a gift. Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you by return email a pdf attachment containing clothing sizes for men, women, boys, and girls.