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Dressing Room Dilemmas: How to Get the Right Fit

The scene: You, the dressing room, high hopes for a fabulous new wardrobe, the floor littered with clothes that don't fit or don't look good, frustration, tears, discouragement... Nothing turns a fun day shopping into a nightmare faster than a bad dressing room experience. If this has happened to you, you know how frustrating it can be. Read on for tips on how to make shopping more productive and fun and amp up your look instantly!

Style Check

We get our style cues from other people, whether they're friends, celebrities, ads or people we see every day. We note our favorite looks and then head to the store to see if we can recreate them for ourselves. While it's a great way to start, one thing often gets lost -- body type. If you're petite and you are looking to tennis star Serena Williams for her fashion sense, you aren't going to get the same look from the same type of clothing. Same goes for tall girls who love Rachel Bilson's petite look or busty girls who admire long, lean Audrey Hepburn's classic style. You know your body type, whatever it is -- your best assets you want to play up and the assets you want to play down -- so check out the styles of icons, acquaintances or store catalog models with similar body types for your best looks.

Size Check

If you're a tween or teen reading this article, your body is growing and changing all the time, so your size and fit will continue to change for a while. If you're college age or older, aside from weight fluctuations, your size will stay about the same. If your size has changed recently, ask your mom, a friend or a salesperson to help measure you for your correct size. Some brands like Land's End have size charts like the one pictured here that will help. Check your favorite brand's website for sizing suggestions.

Lands End Junior Size ChartCourtesy of Lands End

Land's End provides the following guidelines on their website to determine if you are regular, petite, tall or plus size:

"Regular describes a well-proportioned body 5'4"-5'7" tall, with hips slightly larger than bust. Petite, at 4'11"-5'3" tall, is not only shorter but also proportioned smaller, scaled down in shoulder width and sleeve length. Tall, at 5'8"-6'0", accommodates long torsos. Body length increases 1 1/2" and sleeve length increases 1" from our Regular fit. Womens 16W-26W is proportioned to flatter full-figured women 5'4"-5'7" tall. Compared to our Size 16, Size 16W is 2" larger in the bust, waist and hip. Arm girths are larger. Shoulder widths are shorter."

The other issue when finding your size is that sizes vary by store and brand. S, M, L vs. Junior sizes 1,3,5 vs. Adult sizes 2,4,6, and the occasional 0,1,2 thrown in can really throw off your game. When you hit the store, seek out a salesperson who can help you find your fit. Often they can look you up and down and have a sense of what size you will be, but it helps if you can ask them to help you with your size using a reference point: "I usually wear a Medium in tops. Do your shirts run true to size?"

Fit Check

Once you get the clothes into the dressing room and (finally!) try them on, it's the moment of truth -- how does it look on? Remember that you'll have to kiss a lot of frogs (read: potentially unattractive clothes) to find your prince. In theory things may look great on the hanger (or on Shenae Grimes), but in the mirror, it may look less than perfect, but don't despair! Finding what doesn't work is just as important as finding what does. It will help you define your personal style and give you a sense of what will look good when you head back to the racks.

Check your look in the mirror as you try on clothes and think about what features you want to play down, and what you want to play up. Balance every negative with a positive — if you have a big bust you want to minimize, do you have lovely neckbones you admire? Hate your nose but love your sparkling eyes? Show yourself some love and for every part of you that you pick on, think of another asset to love. Keep these in mind when you put outfits together.

Looking great is all about balance, so if you want to move the eye away from one area, draw it toward another using detailing, cut, and pairing items that balance each other out. Try on whole outfits, even if you’re just buying the top or bottom and you have something to go with it at home to make sure the piece you are buying works well with what you’ll be pairing it with.

Checkout Check

Let's face it, even adults with their own credit cards need to keep an eye on the price tag, and you should, too. Know your budget before you go, and keep an eye on the price tags of the clothes you take into the dressing room. Keep the off-limits price tags out of your dressing room so you won't be tempted when you try on something that's way out of your league. Top budget shoppers like to start with the clearance racks first -- those items are marked down from full price, either because they are out of season (leave those alone), overstocked because the store bought too many, have a weird fit (leave those alone, too), or are for exactly right "now" because they're clearing the way for next season's clothes. This is a great way to shop for swim suits in the middle of summer, for example. For full-price items, keep your spending limit in mind and weigh your options before you head to the register. You shouldn't get any surprises when the cashier rings up your total bill.

Have Your Say

What's your biggest dressing room dilemma and how do you solve it? Share your thoughts here!


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