Tips for Finding Clothes That Fit & Flatter

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What: ShopSmart’s October issue dishing the dirt on “How to Buy Clothes That Fit & Flatter.” This feature includes pointers that will help you make the right decision in the dressing room, tips on how to tell if something needs customized tailoring, warning signs that an outfit is a strict no-no, handy formulas for sizing common accessories, and a guide to finding flattering duds online, no matter what size you are.

What They Say:

“Most of us are one size in pants, another in dresses, and yet another in jeans—and that’s before taking into account size and fit differences among brands,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “Given how hard it is to find a perfect fit, ShopSmart has compiled the best tips to ensure your purchases won’t sit at the back of the closet unused for years.”

Here’s some of their tips:


Shoulder Seam. The seam where a fitted sleeve attaches to a shirt or blouse should make a vertical line from the top of your shoulder to your armpit. This keeps the look feminine and youthful, not slouchy!

Sleeves. Long-sleeved blouses should stop at the bend of your wrist. Three-quarter-length sleeves are universally flattering in knit tops; they cover larger upper arms and accentuate slim wrists.

Bust. The fullest part of your bust should be midway between your shoulders and elbows; get fit for a new bra if yours is anywhere below that. And if a blouse gapes open, skip it: it’s too small.

Length. If you plan to wear a shirt untucked, look for a hem that hits above the widest part of your hips or goes a bit longer to lengthen your silhouette. A hem that ends at the hips makes you look boxy.

Dresses and Skirts

Hems. These should stop where the leg naturally narrows, such as just above the knee or at the ankle. If they stop at wider points, you’ll look wider.

Bias cut. Dresses cut on the bias skim your body without clinging, and have a fluidity that garment cut with the grain of the fabric don’t have. To find on-the-bias cuts, look for woven dresses that stretch when pulled vertically or horizontally. Also look for fully-lined items, which smooth bumps and hide imperfections.


Waistband. Bend from side to side; where you “fold” is your natural waist. Waistbands shouldn’t go above this spot (or you’re into dreaded “Mom jeans” territory). Midrise pants are flattering on most women.

Rise. Crotch placement should match your own (that’s the rise); it shouldn’t sag or ride up. Look for pants and jeans that fit just a tad tighter in the store than you want them to. They’ll usually stretch with wear.

Length. Slim, narrow-legged pants should end at the top of your shoes. Wide-legged pants should end about half an inch above your shoe heel in back.


Width. The shorter you are, the thinner your belt should be; wider styles might cut you in half visually. A good guide: unless you’re 5 feet 9 inches or taller, stick to belts no wider than 2½ inches.

Over or under? Skip wearing a belt over your clothes if you have a tummy; you’ll just draw attention to the area. Accentuate your assets: if you’re belting a slim-fitting top, put the belt at your natural waist, which is your smallest point.


Size. You should have room to wiggle your toes, and shoes shouldn’t slip off your heel when you walk. Your heel shouldn’t hang off the back of sandals or slingbacks. If you’re between sizes, go up a size and buy heel liners to get a perfect fit.

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