FAQ: Can you give me some advice about a fit problem I have?
Short (brutally honest) answer: The information you see on each of our product’s pages is mostly what we know about a particular product and how it fits. It may not look like much, but we actually do a first hand check of all the products we sell (see below). We can always try to help further, but offering much more than what you already see sort of falls into the “your guess is as good as mine” category.
OK, here is the long answer: A lot of people think that since we sell hundreds of thousands of products each year, we’d have a great deal of knowledge about the nuances of how one particular product might fit as compared to another. And we get questions all the time like, “my wife is generally a size 4, but she has slim shoulders. What brand would you point her to?”, or “Sometimes I wear a size 9 boot and sometimes I wear a size 10. What do you think I should buy?”.
When I was in college (this is Paul speaking), I sold cowboy boots in a large western store as a part time job. After a year or so of pulling a dozen or more pairs of boots each for about a million different people, I could almost tell you what brand(s)/sizes would fit a person just by glancing at their feet! But in the mail order business, it’s different. Rarely do we get to work with customers in this way. Sure, we’re masters at assembling the right products in the right boxes and sending them on their way, but we don’t develop that same kind of first-hand fit experience. Many mail order companies claim that their employees are “all enthusiasts” or “experts with our products”. I say they may be enthusiasts, and they may know a lot, but the fact is, there are just WAY too many products offered in the US of A for the average employee in mail order to possess intimate fit knowledge like we are talking about.
And there are the economics… spending a lot of time with customers, face-to-face, is hugely expensive as compared to what we do. Mail order doesn’t involve that expense and overall it’s a much more efficient way to get the right product to the right person (no matter where they are). And this is why the prices are so cheap and the selection is so great as compared to in-store sales.
So you ask, “What DO you do to help me with sizing?” Well a lot actually. When we develop the content for our Sizing Information and Paul’s Comments articles and take feature photos of each new product we offer, we spend a while checking sizing both by trying different sizes on and by using a tape measure. With the men’s products we check key measurements such as chest and belly for jackets and waist and inseam for pants. We compare those to what the manufacturers provide for the products and make comments as to how the actual product sizing compares to their charts.
We also are on the lookout for products that don’t fit well. If the product is a little off from the sizing indicated, we’ll say so, but if it is WAY off or fits funky, we generally choose not to offer the product. We also get a feel for how the products fit in general, but only those involved in evaluating products and developing the product pages gain insight such as this, so once we complete our product evaluation, our employee’s insight is limited to the information on each product page (the same content you see).
The other thing we do is offer easy terms of sale that allow you to buy and return to get a good fit.
So what sort of questions can we help with? Well, if you are male, and want us to advise a size to buy, you can provide us with your height, weight, chest and belly measurements, and we can interpret our comments and the relevant charts and make a recommendation.
With women’s styles, boots and helmets, it is really difficult to offer much help. Unfortunately women’s clothing is not well standardized (can’t know a size by using a tape measure), so the sizing information we provide will get you in the ball park, but trying-on is really the only way to know for sure. Boots and helmets are much the same. Make your best guess based on what you know, order them and try them on and return what doesn’t work is usually our best advice. For glove sizing, we have a pretty good method for determining your size, but once again, glove sizing is tricky and trying on is the only way to know for sure.
Wow, that WAS a long answer! But thanks for reading. —Paul