If buy a lot of clothes, then you’ve probably noticed that some of the sizes on these can be different. Chances are, you’re looking at some European sizes and, if you haven’t realized it yet, different parts of the world use different size systems. Fortunately, you can use a conversion system that will allow you to know what your size is in European clothing, which is pretty useful when you’re shopping around in different places in Europe.

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Just keep in mind that, much like US sizes, manufacturers of European clothing may also use sizes that differ from each other.

Finding your actual size

You can’t do much conversion if you don’t know what your actual size is, because that’s what you’re going to be basing your conversions on. Chances are, you probably already have a good idea of what your US size is, given that you need it to find the right fit of clothing. After all, you don’t look good unless the clothes fit you perfectly.

Getting your actual size means having to use a tape measure to take the specific lengths and sizes of certain parts of your body. After that, you can use those numbers as a reference for converting to European measurements. This applies for both men and women, though both have different ways of taking measurements.

Taking measurements for men

- Chest size – wrap the tape measure around the widest part of the chest and note the length of the circumference. This will be important for jackets, suits, and similar clothing.

- Neck size – wrap the tape measure around the neck, note the circumference, and then add half an inch to the number for allowance. This is important for dress shirts.

- Waist – wrap the tape measure around the waist at the same level as the navel. This is necessary for jeans, trousers, and other lower garments.

Keep in mind that European sizes will be in centimeters, unlike the inches used in the US.

Taking measurements for women

- Waist – take the measurement at the level of the navel.

- Hips – measure around the widest part of the hip. This is needed for both dresses and pants.

- Bust – measure around the widest part of the chest.

Note: If there’s a discrepancy between sizes, use the larger size.

Determining your European size

Take a European size conversion chart and see how your US sizes translates. Remember that men and women will have different charts – this is mainly because they convert to their European counterparts differently.

Before that, there are a couple of things you need to take note of:

- Consider that the numbers on the charts are just an estimation. To be sure, check multiple charts.

- As mentioned before, European sizes vary by country. For example, a woman’s 36 in France is a 40 in Italy. Ask what country size a certain clothing store or brand is using to get the sizes right.

- The UK uses sizing that is very different from the rest of Europe.

- There are different conversion charts for different kinds of clothes, so make sure you’re looking at the right one.

Men’s vs. women’s sizes

The charts for women’s sizes tend to be simpler than those for their male counterparts because the charts will represent sizes for both dresses and pants. The only exception is the women’s jeans, which are sized differently depending on the manufacturer.

Converting women’s jeans requires an understanding of how US sizes work. Keep in mind that jeans are meant to fit the wearer snugly, so you might want to treat them a bit differently compared to pants.

Tips for buying clothing online

Online shops are a pretty good way to find clothes that you won’t normally see in the mall or department stores. When doing so, keep the following in mind:

- Pay attention to the sizing. Know what size type they’re using and, if it’s European, check for the country size.

- If you’re not sure about the dimensions or sizes presented on the product description, feel free to contact the seller to ask. If they’re a good seller, they should be able to give you a good answer.

- Most online stores have their own conversion charts, but you shouldn’t rely on them solely as they’re not always reliable.

- Not sure if the seller is trustworthy? Consider the seller’s: (1) ratings; (2) shipping policies, (3) return policies, (4) and shipping times. Information about the shipping and return policies is particularly important because you’ll want a seller who will gladly accept returns and promptly give replacements should the clothes not fit.

- One useful technique when comparing the measurements on a product is to use a similar article of clothing that you own and that fits you well. Use a tape measure to take the measurements of the dimensions of the shirt and compare it with the one sold online. That way, you’ll know exactly what size the clothing will be.

Note: If you’re buying clothes from Europe, keep in mind that shipping times are naturally longer.

Having a rich understanding of how European sizes work will make a huge difference to how well you can shop for clothes, both online and in department stores. This, in turn, will greatly improve your wardrobe, since a lot of US shoppers really want to try European clothes.

Make sure you get a copy of the different size charts that you’ll need for conversion. You’ll find many on the internet, but remember to save and stick to the ones that give you the most accurate conversions. Pretty soon, it’ll be second nature to you, and you’ll be enjoying yourself wearing the latest in European clothing.