What's worse than buying something you've wanted, only to discover it doesn't fit? Or buying something that fits perfectly when you try it at the store, only to find out that it was mislabeled and now doesn't fit at all? This dilemma happens more often than you might think, so we're here to help you avoid this frustration by giving you some tips on getting the right size when shopping online.

Measure Yourself

Use a tape measure to get an accurate measurement for all your clothes. Vanity size (clothes with larger or smaller than normal size tags) can be deceiving, so you must know your actual body measurements. Also, use a flexible fabric tape measure when measuring yourself; using a hard ruler might not give you an accurate reading. Remember: Clothing is measured on a flat surface, not across your body. The top of your head should not be included in these measurements.

Use a Size Chart

First of all, if you are going to buy clothes online, I recommend that you use the Size & Fit website. Size & Fit size charts are easy to use and accurate, plus they have size guides for over 600 brands. This is an easy way to quickly see whether or not a clothing brand has vanity size (i.e., they make clothes larger than they should be). As a general rule, stick with clothing brands that don't use vanity sizing. In most cases, when you know your exact size with these brands (Nike, Adidas, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Converse, and Zara) and order exactly that on their website—you will be happy with how things fit. With their size charts, you'll know exactly what size you need.

Know the Difference

There's no uniform system across all retailers regarding sizing, which can make shopping online difficult. Even worse, what's labeled as small on one site might be labeled as a medium on another. If you want to avoid having to return items because they don't fit, take a few minutes to learn about sizing standards at your favorite stores before you buy anything. The best way to do so is by checking out their size charts, so you'll get your perfect fit every time

Understanding International Size Charts

If you're buying clothing online, especially from a retailer in another country, you need to use an international size chart. Otherwise, if you go by a US size chart, your clothes will probably be too small or big. The same goes for shoes. There are many different charts out there—the most common ones are European and UK—so make sure you understand which one is being used before making a purchase.

Read Up on Sizing Information

Before purchasing anything online, it's good to read up on product sizing information. No matter how much a brand tries to maintain consistent sizing for all models, there are still variations. Materials, design elements, and overall construction influence fit and sizing. So, even if you're familiar with a specific retailer and their product sizes, conducting your research before purchasing never hurts.