Posts Tagged: sizing

Reader Request: Writing Helpful Customer Reviews

writing helpful product reviews

Reader Andrea e-mailed me this question:

Just wondering if you’ve ever done a post on how to write helpful product reviews for clothing or makeup sites? I do a lot of shopping online, and finding a helpful review for an item I’m considering is so great — I’ve noticed more and more women include many of their measurements which really helps to give a good idea of how a piece will fit. Makeup is a bit more subjective, I realize, since color perception can vary (as does how one describes one’s own coloring). But I still see so many “reviews” that are along the lines of “Wow! This is a great sweater! I love it!” So. Not. Helpful.

Confession: I have found many customer reviews to be helpful and informative, but have never written one myself. I KNOW! For shame. My excuse is that I just plain forget to do it. And also that very few things I buy either dazzle me with their superior quality or anger me with their shoddy workmanship, so I seldom feel motivated to share my feedback on vendor sites. However, like Andrea, I am able to scan through the online reviews I see and dismiss the ones that I know won’t be helpful. So here are a few tips from a consumer of customer reviews:

Be specific

Seems obvious, I know, but it’s ever so important. Just saying something didn’t fit or wasn’t made well doesn’t give other customers any idea of WHY. Tell them it didn’t fit because the arms are cut narrow, or that it wasn’t made well as evidenced by pilling under the armpits and frayed seams. Explain what you loved or hated and give detailed reasons. While it’s true that a string of 50, “I love these pants!” reviews may sway a few potential buyers, it’s not the meaty information most of us are hoping for.

Tell a bit about yourself

Some feedback forms request personal information, which may seem invasive, but I’ve found it to be tremendously helpful. Anthropologie’s reviews include age range, height, body type, and style, all of which tell you if the person writing the review is similar in shape and preferences to you. If you’re not asked, tell anyway. A dress that fits poorly on a narrow, straight figure might look smashing on a curvy one. And if you say something looks too old or young to you, the reader needs some context – meaning, how old YOU are. And if you’re not asked, definitely mention if you’re petite, tall, very long- or short-waisted, or in possession of other traits that consistently affect fit.

If you are a regular, mention comparisons

Some of the “quality has really gone down in the past X years” comments can be a bit grating, especially if you’re new to a brand. On the other hand if a line typically runs true to size but a particular garment or shoe is really off, that can be good to know. Saying something like, “I usually take a size 20 from this brand, but in this dress I needed a 22 because it’s cut small across the shoulders” can be incredibly helpful to another customer.

Wait, wash, wear, review

For some reason, lots of Zappos reviewers feel compelled to review their shoes before they’ve been worn for more than 45 seconds. And since I’ve admitted to having virtually no memory capacity for writing reviews myself, I understand the instinct: Do it now, don’t forget. But especially with shoes – which often need breaking-in or can seem comfy initially but be torturous after a few hours’ wear – reviewing after  several uses will be most helpful. Honestly, this goes for clothes, too. How does it wash? So glad it fits, but does the fabric wrinkle after an hour of wear? The most helpful reviews are from folks who’ve worn, washed, and worn again.

Mention any differences from the photos

Tricky, right? Especially when it comes to colors, which can look drastically different from monitor to monitor. But, for instance, say a patterned dress has a long sash that just looks like ruching in the photo. If your dress arrived in the mail and you were surprised as heck by this detail, mention that in the review. In all likelihood, someone else will make the same visual error.

And that’s all I’ve got! Who out there is consistent about writing online reviews? Do you find that the reviews for certain brands are more helpful than others? What else would you add to this list of tips?

Screen cap from Boden

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Random Tip Roundup: Fit and Sizing

fit and sizing tips

Just for kicks, I thought I’d share a few fit and sizing tidbits that have been floating around in my head of late!

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The fuller the skirt, the shorter the hemline feels. If, like me, you adore pleats in your dresses and skirts, be aware that the shape and design may make a slightly above-the-knee hemline feel quite … er, breezy. Go a bit longer than you might ordinarily.

Generally, shorts will fit better if you try a size up from your normal pant size.

Most retailer websites have a general size chart that only hints at how individual garments will fit. Consult the chart to get within your sizing ballpark and, if you can afford to do so, order your normal size and a size up or down. Keep the one that fits best and send back the other.

Tall boots that reach or cover your kneecap often make your legs look shorter because the eye expects the kneecap to be the midpoint of the leg. (This isn’t always true, but it’s what we expect!) In most cases, a boot that reaches an inch or so below the bottom of the kneecap will look fabulous.

Underwear sizing is ridiculous and meaningless. If at all possible, buy the size that fits your body without squeezing or subdividing your hips and butt, even if that size is several higher than what you’d expect to fit. I’m a size 10-12 in pants and frequently spring for XXL panties.

If a shoe has a platform, subtract the platform height from the overall heel height to determine how tall the shoes will actually feel.

Jeans and pants with high spandex/lycra content can distend with wear. If you’ve got more than 4% in your fiber mix, wear the pants around the house for 2-3 hours with the tags still on them. If they’re sagging and bagging, return them. They might shrink back into shape in the wash, but they’ll just sag and bag again after a few hours’ wear.

When trying on bracelets, look in a mirror with your hands at your sides. If it squeezes your wrist, it’s too small. If it slides down more than an inch past your wrist bone, it’s too big.

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Got any recently learned or unexpected fit and sizing tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

Images courtesy Land’s End.

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It’s Not You, it’s the Clothes

its not you its the clothes

On writing this, I’ve just returned from the tailor. I needed two pairs of pants and a dress hemmed; Both were MILES too long, and I am 5′ 5.5″, which is quite an average height for an American gal according to every chart I’ve ever seen. Yet I am not anxious or uneasy about having to tailor my duds. I didn’t start questioning my proportions, height, or body just because the clothes I bought didn’t fit me properly. I didn’t worry that I should be taller or longer-legged because I know it’s not me, it’s the clothes.

I feel like more and more women are adopting this mentality, and I’m thrilled to see it. You try on enough dresses that seem ridiculously short and wonder if you’re an absolute giraffe. You struggle to find a bra that fits your girls and wonder if you’re a mutant. You search and search for cute shoes in your size and wonder if your feet are really that outrageously unusual. But you’re not. You’re not a giraffe, or a mutant, or a bigfoot. You’re marvelous. It’s not you, it’s the clothes. There is nothing wrong with your body just because it won’t fit perfectly into off-the-rack everything. You should not attempt to change how you’re shaped, how you look, or how you feel about yourself just because nothing at Zara or Forever 21 fits you. Needing to alter your clothing is not an indicator that you should alter your body.

It’s not you, beautiful. It’s the clothes.

Clothes should fit you, you needn’t fit them. The styles, shapes, and specific garments that slide onto your gorgeous form and make you grin at your radiant reflection? Those are the ones that deserve the honor of bedecking your bod. Don’t let ill-fitting clothing convince you that you’re wrong or strange. Celebrities – who spend hours exercising every day and hire chefs to keep their diets monitored – have every single item of clothing they own tailored to fit, including plain tees and camisoles. No one – not even a professional clothing model – looks amazing in every garment ever designed. Don’t expect yourself to, and try not to agonize over the items that fight your body.

Easier said than done, of course. I know exactly how disappointing and unfair it feels to realize that not a single item from a particular line is going to work for you. When I adore the aesthetic of a brand or store and cannot squeeze into anything they offer, I feel heartbroken and hurt. And, perhaps more importantly, I’m inclined to blame myself. I mean, obviously if my hips can’t be jammed into a single pair of those pants I’m a disproportionate, repellent eyesore. But I try to remember that those fit issues aren’t about me. They could be about the designer’s narrow view of bodily proportions, they could be about fitting a perceived set of average sizes, they could be about some quirk in that specific pattern or design. They could be about any number of factors, all of which are utterly unrelated to me, my figure, my body, and my value as a human being.

Many women can shop at mall stores, and many of those women look amazing in nearly everything they throw on. But the emphasis here is on the “nearly.” There isn’t a single, solitary soul walking this earth who can wear every garment ever designed and look ravishing. There isn’t a woman alive who has bought everything she owns from a mass-market store and had it all fit perfectly, as if tailor-made for her unique curves. Everyone deals with clothes that are “good enough,” everyone needs to visit the tailor for certain garments, and everyone looks awful in something.

Those off-the-rack clothes that just won’t fit you? They say absolutely nothing about you. YOU are amazing. Every last one of you.

It’s not you, it’s the clothes.

 

Image courtesy Gap // This post is such a favorite that I wanted to revive it for any new readers. I’ve been struggling with professional balance lately, and will be bringing back the occasional archived post until things calm down a bit. Thanks for your understanding.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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