Why don’t clothes fit me Blog graphic

Have you ever wondered “why don’t clothes fit me”? Or bought clothes that were your size but still didn’t fit? It happens (even though it seems like this should be straightforward enough), and here’s why…

Your body has hundreds of precise measurements that are nowhere to be found on your average clothing size chart. When it comes to how your clothing fits, you have somatic preferences (some conscious, some unconscious) about all of them.

When it feels like a piece of clothing is clinging, or catching, or pulling, or pinching – but it’s your size – something is usually off in one of these other measurements. 

Typical body and clothing measurements: 

There are typically 3-4 body measurements on the size chart you see when you’re shopping online. They are: 

  1. Bust or Chest
  2. Waist
  3. Hips
  4. Height

Other clothing and body measurements (aka 84 answers to “Why don’t clothes fit me”)

So here they are 84 other body measurements and places your clothing can fit incorrectly or uncomfortably

  1. Neck circumference
  2. Neck length
  3. Neckline drop 
  4. Shoulder to shoulder width
  5. Shoulder slope
  6. Armscye circumference
  7. Armscye angle
  8. Arm length shoulder to wrist with a straight elbow
  9. Arm length shoulder to wrist with a bent elbow
  10. Shoulder to elbow length
  11. Elbow to wrist length
  12. Angle of forearm slope
  13. Bicep circumference
  14. Elbow circumference
  15. Forearm circumference
  16. Wrist circumference
  17. Upper bust / chest circumference
  18. Bust / chest circumference
  19. Under bust / chest circumference
  20. Front bust / chest to top of shoulder length
  21. Back bust / chest to top of shoulder length
  22. Waist circumference
  23. High hip circumference
  24. Hip circumference 
  25. Low hip circumference
  26. Neck to waist length along front
  27. Neck to waist length along back
  28. Underbust to waist length
  29. Waist to hip length
  30. Front rise 
  31. Back rise
  32. Front waist to knee length
  33. Front waist to ankle length
  34. Front waist to floor length
  35. Back waist to knee length while standing
  36. Back waist to ankle length while standing
  37. Back waist to floor length while standing
  38. Back waist to knee length while seated
  39. Back waist to ankle length while seated
  40. Back waist to floor length while seated 
  41. Waist circumference and hip circumference difference
  42. Hip to knee length
  43. Hip to ankle length while standing
  44. Hip to ankle length while seated
  45. Knee to ankle length
  46. Knee to floor length
  47. Inseam
  48. Outseam
  49. Upper thigh circumference
  50. Lower thigh circumference 
  51. Knee circumference
  52. Full calf circumference
  53. Under calf circumference
  54. Ankle circumference
  55. Angle of calf
  56. Foot length heel to toe
  57. Foot length ankle to toe along bottom of foot
  58. Foot length ankle to along top of foot
  59. Foot arch angle
  60. Foot circumference along arch
  61. Ball of foot circumference
  62. Toe length big toe
  63. Toe length little toe
  64. Angle of toes
  65. Head circumference
  66. Length from ear to ear over head
  67. Length from ear to ear under chin
  68. Forehead to back of neck length
  69. Wrist to knuckles length
  70. Wrist to fingertips length
  71. Knuckles to fingertips length
  72. Wrist to nail tip length
  73. Knuckles to nail tip length
  74. Finger circumference at first knuckle 
  75. Finger circumference at finger tip
  76. Wrist to thumb knuckle length
  77. Wrist to thumb tip length
  78. Knuckle to thumb tip length
  79. Wrist to thumbnail tip length
  80. Knuckle to thumbnail tip length
  81. First knuckle on first finger to thumb webbing length
  82. Thumb angle
  83. Distance between thumb tip and pinky tip with relaxed hands
  84. Distance between thumb tip and pinky tip with hands stretched

So what?

Some of these measurements are used on a wide variety of garments. Practically everything that touches the upper body utilizes some combination of bust, waist, and hip measurements. Some like the arm measurements are only used in garments that have sleeves. 

Others are only used for specialty items. For example: head measurements for hats and hoods, foot measurements for socks, shoes, and tights, and endless hand measurements for gloves. 

All of these are very important measurements when it comes to having clothes that fit you. But you won’t find them listed in a product description. 

When the sleeves of your sweater slide down your forearm no matter how many times you pull them back up, there’s too large a difference between the sweater’s wrist measurement and your forearm circumference.

When you have to adjust your jeans every time you stand up, something is not fitting right in the waist, hips, rise, thighs, measurements. 

If you can never find jeans that fit both your hips and your waist, it’s because there’s a mismatch between your (perfect as it is) body type, measurements & proportions and the body type, measurements & proportions the brand is designing to. 

What to do…

Even the simplest silhouettes have dozens of measurements that are nowhere to be found on the consumer facing measurement chart.

This is why clothes often don’t fit even when they should be our size. 

It is also why custom clothes fit so well and why tailoring is so important (and should be in your clothing budget). They take these measurements and details into consideration, and use your body as the fit model for your closet.

When you find your holy grail jeans, it’s because your body is very close in all these little details to their fit model’s body. Pro tip: buy the jeans.

Unless you love sewing and altering your clothes, or take everything to a tailor out of default. It’s generally easier to make clothes designed for your body fit your style, than to make clothes designed for your style fit your body.

The next time you ask yourself “Why don’t clothes fit me?” Or the next time someone asks you “why can’t you just buy clothes that fit?” 

You can respond with “my body is a custom job and was not designed to contort into limited sizing.” (Or some other buffer phrase.) 


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