As an expat living abroad, it’s going to be tough to find clothes that match your size and style. It can be especially difficult in the Far East where most of the major clothing stores tend to cater to Asian body types. There are ways around this, though, and it’s important to remember that while I’m writing these tips with Asia in mind, they apply to any country where the sizing is difficult for you (even if it’s your home town!).
Okay, let’s get right down to it. Here are 4 ways you can find clothes that fit:
1. Shop at the chain stores.
Due to their global presence, chain stores like The Gap, Uniqlo, H&M, and Zara tend to carry clothes for a wider variety of body types than the local boutique stores do. In addition to being more versatile in terms of sizes, these stores also tend to be easier on your wallet.
Though you may not find the most unique pieces at these stores (like you might at the boutiques), you will be able to buy all of your foundational pieces there. Try and shop at the chain stores for the basics where size does matter (shirts, pants, shoes, etc.) and then hit the boutique stores and street vendors to accessorize.
2. Always try it on.
This is my mantra when it comes to style and it’s doubly important when you’re shopping overseas where the sizes and styles are so different. It can be exhausting to be running between stores and changing in and out of everything while you’re trying to find a brand that matches your body type, but it will ultimately be worth it when you get home and know you’ve got a perfect fit.
Try going shopping with an honest friend who can let you know whether or not a specific piece really fits.
3. Special order or get it online.
There are going to be times when you just can’t find your size in the store, even if you’re extremely thorough. When this happens and you see a piece you really like, your best bet is to talk to someone at the store and see if they can order a larger size specifically for you. If they can’t do that, then check the online store and see if they carry it in the right size.
Though you won’t be able to try anything on before you buy it online, most stores will allow you to return any items within a reasonable period of time. Take advantage of these offers and buy a few different sizes and send back the sizes that don’t fit. Always be sure to familiarize yourself with a company’s return policies (same goes for shopping at actual stores, as well).
4. Get it tailored or made from scratch.
For unique body types, this is going to be your best option. Buy the size closest to your body type (preferably slightly larger) and then take everything to a tailor or dry cleaners (they’ll sometimes make small alterations for you). Have them take your measurements and alter the clothes according to your body type and personal preferences. Not only will the clothing still be quite cheap (assuming you bought it from one of the aforementioned chain stores), it will also be a perfect fit!
Of course, if you have a bit more money to spend on clothing, you can always find a reputable tailor in your area and have them custom make your foundational items (shirts, slacks, blazers) from scratch. I usually advise guys to have a few basic dress shirts (plain blue, plain white, and a light color pattern shirt) custom made anyway. You’ll never be able to find a shirt in a chain store that can match the work of a good tailor.
Hopefully this will help those of you who are having trouble shopping in Asia, you know who you are. If you have any more tips make sure to add your comment below.