It’s common fashion/style blog advice that fit is king.
And it’s true: great fit is 90% of great style.
However, achieving great fit is bloody hard because (i) everyone’s shape and size is different and (2) the clothes you find in shops off the rack are in pre-defined sizes (small, medium, large, x-large etc).
The difference between small and medium in a top is about 2-3 inches in the chest. So someone whose chest size is in the middle of this range has to wear a slightly baggy top.
The problems I have are that I’m short by western standards (I’m 5ft 6in) and I’m stocky (my chest is 40in). I also have a long torso relative to my legs. This makes buying off the rack difficult in terms of getting great fit.
Shops that don’t work for me fit-wise include Zara, which is a shame because I like a lot of the stuff they have. Unfortunately, the trousers are generally too long and their standard sizes seem to be geared towards taller men.
That’s absolutely fine, but I’m also quite lazy. I don’t want to buy them and then have the hassle of getting them altered.
Alterations take time and effort and also cost money. Getting trousers shortened might be £20. That’s £20 on top of what you paid for them.
How I avoid having to get my clothes altered
1) Find shops where their sizes and styles fit you really well
This might sound obvious but it isn’t really.
Different shops might call their sizes for t-shirts ‘small’, ‘medium’ or ‘large’, but on comparison, the ‘smalls’ might be significantly different in actual size to each other.
Zara’s ‘small’ might be different to H&M’s ‘small’.
Try different shops and work out which one works for you.
It might be really specific and item by item. Some shops might work for you for t-shirts but not trousers. You might have to find trousers that work in other shops.
The beauty of this is finding a shop that works for a particular item and sticking to that shop.
For instance, I love H&M for t-shirts. (I’m a ‘medium’ crew neck in slim fit or regular).
I love Uniqlo for jumpers. (I’m a ‘medium’).
I love Asos for chinos. (I’m a 31in waist, 30in leg).
I love Moss Bros for jackets (I’m a slim-fit 40S)
2) Look for shops where there are lots and lots of different sizes
With regards to shirts, some shops might only have half inch different sizes on the collar and minimal size offerings on the sleeves.
Shops that specialise in shirts will have far more granular differences in dimensions.
Eg. TM Lewin has collars in 14in, 14.5in, 15in, 15.5in, 16in etc.
They will also have within each of these sizes, different sleeve lengths available: 33in, 34in, 35in etc.
They will also have different ‘fits’ available: classic/regular, slim, fitted, super-fitted.
Try all the sizes around your size and see which fits best.
This perfect size combination will be your ‘go-to’ size in the future. (For me in TM Lewin, my perfect size is 16in collar, 33in sleeves and ‘fitted’ fit.
3) Where you need to make the alteration, do it yourself
Now if the chinos above were perfect for me, the size would be 31in waist, 28in leg.
But on ASOS’s website, you can’t buy this size. It doesn’t exist.
However, I bought the next size that was closest to my ideal size, which was the 31in waist, 30in leg.
The trousers are too long when fully extended but I simply roll up or turn up the trousers.
I look for the trouser cuff (hem and the thread line) and I roll up and up until I get the perfect length.
I described this in more detail in this previous post.
Let me know any questions in the comments below!