Published on july 19, 2018

5 Quick Fixes for the Wrong Fit

written by Team thredUP

You know the struggle… you try on a size at one store and it fits perfectly, then try the SAME SIZE at another store and can hardly squeeze into it! We’ve all thought to ourselves: why isn’t there a universal sizing system? Well, there’s a long history to clothing sizes in the US which has resulted in most companies creating their own sizing models and consequently, a lack of consistent sizing, which makes all of our lives more difficult!

As the world’s largest online thrift store, thredUP receives thousands of clothing items each day, sorts through each and every piece, and lists over 30,000 items on our site every day. thredUP’s model of reselling a wide variety of clothing sizes and brands has provided us with a unique opportunity. We’ve compiled all of our data into one report: Not Made to Measure. In it, we describe the clothing brands that have a trend of sizing accurately, a trend of sizing smaller than the label suggests, and a trend of sizing larger than the label suggests.

From these studies, we’ve learned some tricks and tips for you to use when shopping for clothes because shopping is supposed to be fun and this whole sizing thing shouldn’t keep us from getting our fashion on! Keep reading to learn 6 fit tips that can help in your sizing woes.

Fit Tip #1: Know Your Measurements

Knowing your measurements makes a world of difference when shopping, online and in person. Knowing the basics (bust, waist, and hips) can help you make more educated purchases and lower the likelihood of returning something that you really wanted to love. But if you’re worried about pants being too long or short for you legs, it’s also good to measure your inseam.

You should always keep your measurements on hand (unless you have an amazing memory). Try storing your measurements on the notes app on your phone or on a piece a paper on your fridge so you can easily access them if you’re shopping from home.

Measuring your body isn’t the only thing that can help in knowing your sizing. Try measuring some of your favorite items of clothing around the bust, waist and hip areas. If you know the measurements of your clothes, then you’ll be able to choose items that fit you the way you like, whether it be more loose or more fitted.

Bonus thredUP Tip: We measure every article of clothing so if you know your sizes you can save them so that your searches filter your sizes only! 

Fit Tip #2: Don’t Be Afraid to Size Up or Down

There are claims that clothing companies label their clothes with smaller sizes to make the shopper feel better about themselves. This is known as “vanity sizing.” But in our study, we’ve learned that clothes are just as likely to be labelled larger than the size than to be labelled smaller. In fact, our study found that 32% percent of reviewed jeans brands ran at least a quarter inch larger around the waist than the average. That might sound like vanity sizing, if it weren’t for the 41% of brands that ran smaller.

That being said, we have to learn to not always expect to be one size in particular. We focused a portion of our studies to jeans sizes. Based on variances in jean sizing we created a jean cheatsheet to help guide jean shoppers.

denim degrees***If they’re not fitting just right, keep in mind that it’s not the genes it’s the jeans!

Additionally, sizing up and down when it comes to dresses may depend on the style and silhouette. Here’s a dress size guide that you can use for quick reference if you’re unsure about sizing:

Dress styles and brands you will need to size up:

A-line: fitted at your waist and gradually widens towards the hem to create a triangular shape that fans out slightly

Bodycon: tight-fitting garment that does not shape your curves

Fit & Flare: fitted bodice with a cinched waist and a flared skirt

High-low: hem has varying lengths

Maxi: floor- or ankle-length informal dress

Mini: hem length above the knee

dresses sizing smaller

Dress styles and brands you will need to size down:

Drop waist: low, horizontal waistline that usually falls near the level of the upper hips

Shift: falls straight down from your shoulders and flows over hips and waist

Shirtdress: features a collar and buttons to mimic the look of a dress shirt

Sweater Dress: heavier knit or crocheted dress

Wrap: wraps in the front and ties around the waist with a v-neck neckline

dresses sizing bigger

Fit Tip #3: Compare Size Tables

If you know of one brand that fits you really well, consider comparing that brand’s size chart to a brand from which you are considering buying. If there is a considerable difference in the size chart, you may want to size up or down.

We’ve found that there are brands that run true to size, meaning these brands that most consistently use average size labels. See the chart below for brands of dresses, tops and jeans with sizes that vary less than 0.3” from the average size labels.

true size dressestrue size topstrue size jeans

If you looked at the sizing charts for these brands, they’d likely be similar. Looking at this chart, you’d know that if you’re a Medium in Merona’s dresses, you’re also a Medium in Free People dresses. However, if your favorite brands aren’t on this chart, consider conducting your own research, and comparing the sizing systems of those brands. This is where knowing your measurements comes in handy!


Fit Tip #4: Read Reviews and Get Social

No one knows the sizing struggles more than your fellow shoppers. So if the brand you like has the option to review products, be sure to read them! Your fellow shoppers will give you great insight on if you need to size up or down.

Additionally, check out the tagged photos on brands’ social media accounts (and check out our tagged photos in #secondhandfirst). Shoppers often write mini reviews on items they’ve received, which can be helpful to see what real people think. Also, it’s great to see clothes on people who are not model. Take advantage of fashion bloggers! It’s their job to give shoppers tips. They often create YouTube videos where they try on clothes for the first time and give honest opinions about how things fit and whether or not the sizing was consistent.


Fit Tip #5: Love Your Body!

Size ain’t nothing but a number or a letter or a measurement—and it’s honestly so inconsistent! Just remember to find clothes that fit you and not the other way around. These tips are intended to make sizing less of a struggle for us because shopping is supposed to be fun and sizing shouldn’t the reason you avoid getting new clothes. 

It’s important to keep in mind, especially when shopping secondhand or vintage, that you can always alter your clothes. These fit tips were created to help you find the right size off the rack, but sometime alterations are needed. If you’ve never gotten a dress altered, it can be a great starting point on your sizing journey. Getting clothing alterations will give you the opportunity to have all of your measurements professionally taken. You’ll know they are accurate and can refer to them in the future! Here are even more savvy ways to transform one dress. 

So don’t sweat the size, every body is beautiful!


Do you have any sizing fashion hacks for sizing? Which brands do YOU feel fit your body best and why? Let us know—comment below!