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  • Writer's pictureDeanna Meador

Measuring and Size Charts, How do you know you’ve gotten it right when shopping online?

Curious how many people reading this own a flexible or sometimes referred to as a soft measuring tape? Do you know where it is and when the last time was that you used it to get your body measurements? For me, this is easy. It is in the top drawer of the built-in cabinet in my home office. I have another one that I carry with me in my laptop bag and yet another one that stays in my car.  If I really looked around, there are probably a few more in other random places scattered throughout my life, but I am not a tailor or a stylist or a personal trainer.  

I am, however, obsessed with how people shop online and how they choose the size they think will fit them best when they aren’t able to try clothing on in-person. This gets especially interesting (for me) when people shop with a brand they have never worn before or when they shop for tricky-to-fit-well items like denim. 

I’ve studied the e-commerce shopping experience through hundreds of 1:1 interviews, focus groups, conversations with thought leaders, and endless research. I learned that shopping online is a guessing game for most shoppers and that the confidence level for most people is generally pretty low when it comes to feeling positive a garment will fit well when it arrives on their doorstep. This is despite the consistent use of size charts among almost every apparel brand on the planet. 

So, here are the top challenges most voiced by the shoppers I’ve spoken with:

  • Measuring- Not knowing exactly where to measure or how tight to hold the measuring tape or having difficulty when someone else isn’t around to assist. 

  • Fit- Getting the ‘right’ size per a brand’s size chart but the item still not fitting well. I heard a lot of comments around, “I got the right size [per the size chart], but it doesn’t look good on my body.”

  • Inconsistency- Buying a size they’ve bought from a brand before but the size fits differently between garments. This can be due to design, fabric, or even the factory it was produced in. 

When it comes to measuring, a particular point of confusion brought up often was where to measure to get the right measurement to compare to the number listed for waist on a size chart for pant purchases. In developing my company’s fitting technology, we ran thousands of tests where we measured people, compared the measurements to a brand’s size chart, had people try on the recommended size plus a size up or down and gathered data on the perceived fit. We learned that the point on their body that a person needs to measure to compare to the waist measurement on a size chart often changes based on the type of bottoms they are buying and their body type. The rise of the bottoms, whether the materials are rigid vs. stretchy, and honestly whether the person has more of a straight silhouette vs. one with more curves all played important roles in where the person should measure. These were also important factors in whether a person would need to size up or down on a brand’s size chart in order to get into a size that they would say fit them well. 

From that work, I can confidently say the reason most people are unhappy with purchases isn’t about size, it is all about fit.

We used this information to refine our VisualizeXTM fitting technology algorithms to autonomously identify key information about a person’s body profile or silhouette (no need for the user to try to put themselves into one of the 6 pre-defined body shapes we often hear about- who knows whether they are an inverted triangle or a pear anyway) and modify the points on the body where measurements are taken for pant fittings. We also map this information to the dim specs for each specific garment rather than an overall bottoms size chart in order to show shoppers how items will look and fit on their body. This has been a game changer for getting people into bottoms they perceive fit them well. 

Here are a few tips for shoppers and brands based on our work over the last 3 years:

When shopping online, here are 5 tips we found:

  • If a brand offers a virtual try on or fitting solution, take advantage of it! It will take ~2 minutes of your time but will be well worth it and eliminate a lot of guessing. 

  • If a brand has the same size chart for all of their bottoms, you may experience more challenges getting the right fit. If a brand has different size charts for each garment, pay attention to them. Returns are a hassle and have a huge environmental impact. 

  • If you are on the upper or lower cusp of the range on the size chart, you may want to up or down a size depending on whether you prefer a looser or more snug fit, especially if a garment has stretch. Look to see if the measurement ranges on the size chart overlap and then think about how you prefer your garment to fit when making a selection. 

  • If you have more of a straight silhouette meaning your hips or booty aren’t much wider than your waist, you may want to go down a size in pants so they don’t slip down as you wear them over the course of a day. This can be especially true if they have stretch.

  • Generally, don’t buy a size where any of your relevant body measurements are above the max measurement on the size chart. For shirts, this is usually chest and waist measurements and for bottoms, waist and hip. 

Here are 3 key items for brands looking to drive loyalty and satisfaction, as well as reduce returns:

  • Take a look at virtual try on or virtual fitting solutions. They have changed a lot in the last couple of years and there are some key advances that you need to be aware of. Virtual fitting solutions also allow you to highlight reviews for customers from others whose body profiles are the most similar!

  • Examine your current size charts. Run a few tests where you have people try on garments based on their measurements and where they fall on your size chart, have them try a size up or down, and ask them about the fit and what size they prefer. You may find it is time to update your size charts. We’ve worked with several brands where this has made a key difference and is something we are happy to help with. 

  • Produce differentiated size charts for your products or product groupings. Have a process to check that your dim specs on paper are in alignment with the measurements of your finished garments and keep an eye on this over time to watch for drift.

The ability to express yourself through the clothing that you wear is one of my favorite parts of being in the fashion industry. There is a different feeling I have when I wear something that I would describe as fitting me well. For shoppers, take a few extra minutes to use a fitting tool or measure yourself, check out the size chart, and also consider your personal preferences when looking at the size chart, especially if your measurements are on the upper or lower end of the range. At Couture Technologies, we offer a convenient option to take two quick photos in tight-fitting clothes to easily create your own personalized virtual avatar that reflects your body measurements. These photos are never saved, but for people that might not feel comfortable taking photos or that may not have tight-fitting clothes on-hand. Luckily, with just a few measurements you can do the same! Grab a soft tape measure and create your personalized avatar today at These steps can mean a higher degree of happiness when you open that package that arrives on your doorstep. 

For brands, check out the latest technological advances and provide a virtual solution for your customers, offer more differentiated size charts vs. a single size chart for a category, as well as check and refresh your size charts over time. These are all great ways to ensure customers have a positive experience with your products and return in the future because they see you as offering products that fit them well. Reach out for a 15-minute conversation on how we can help reduce returns by evaluating your size charts, reviewing your customer feedback, or showing a demo of our digital solutions. 

About Couture Technologies:

Couture Technologies is the leading virtual fitting technology that helps apparel companies reduce returns, increase conversions, and grow their business by ensuring customers get the right fit the first time through AI-powered numerical simulations. The company is best known for their capabilities and peerless accuracy in creating authentic 3D virtual garments, VisualizeX™ technology with seamless avatar creation, and proprietary FitMap™ function, allowing customers to see where an item will fit loose or tight on a digital representation of their own body. Online customers can try on clothing and combine items into an outfit with the snap of two photos or entering a few measurements; no app required. They also deliver 3D product visualizations with ProductX, gather customer measurement data with MeasureX, and provide garment configuration and styling tools with LookBookX. Based in Nashville, TN, Couture Technologies is a female and minority-owned business. 

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