How To Go Clothes Shopping Abroad

Shopping abroad can be a very fun activity, but it can be a frustrating one, too. Here are some tips for getting clothes that fit regardless of where you’re traveling.
Shopping Abroad

Whether you planned to or not, you might end up shopping for clothes when you’re traveling. Maybe you want to check out the local fashions, or you just spilled red wine all over the only pair of khaki pants you had and you have to attend a yacht party tomorrow. Either way, you might find yourself doing some international shopping while you’re abroad.

Going in completely unprepared is not a good idea, however. While it may seem minor, trying to figure out sizes in other countries can be frustrating and time-consuming. Head off the stress by doing a little research beforehand. Here’s our non-comprehensive guide to international shopping around the world.

Tips For International Shopping

Print Out A Size Conversion Chart

This can sound a bit old-school, but carrying around a size conversion chart can be a real help in a pinch. If you format it right, you can get something the size of a business card to put in a wallet or purse. There are also lots of online conversion resources, but paper doesn’t require internet access or a charger.

Do note, however, that the numbers on the conversion charts are not always exact equivalents. Shoe sizes, for example, can be finicky because they’re based on inches in the United States and centimeters in Europe. Of course, shopping can be annoying even in your home country, because brands are hardly consistent. A size chart is really only a starting point, and you might have to try a few things to get an outfit that fits you right when you’re doing international shopping.

Refresh Yourself On The Metric System

Speaking of measurements, shopping in any country besides the United States can be made easier with some knowledge of the metric system. Knowing you’re a size 32 waist doesn’t really help when no one around uses that system. At the very least, it’s good to know your personal measurements in centimeters.

But hey, while you’re at it, you could always acquaint yourself with the metric system a bit better. Did you know an inch is roughly equal to two and a half centimeters? It’s a possibly useful fact.

Try On Absolutely Everything You Can

You really don’t need an article to tell you this, but if you’re in a new country, you’ll want to try on the clothing you’re buying. Maybe you’re in a rush, but no rush can be worth squeezing your feet into a too-small pair of shoes for the rest of your vacation. Honestly, this is good advice for shopping in general.

Be Wary Of Labels Like “Small” And “Large”

Human bodies are incredibly varied, and it’s all part of the vast tapestry of human experience. Sometimes, clothing lines try to fit those bodies into boxes like “small,” “medium” and “large.” Do not be fooled! While these can be somewhat helpful, they are almost entirely arbitrary. Going to another country means that these types of labels will be even less familiar to you, so don’t assume everything will fit like you’re used to.

International Shopping Online? Check The Comments Section

There are very few reasons to ever read the comments sections anywhere. This, however, is the one exception.

If you’re doing international shopping from a website and ordering online, you’ll have a lot more resources at your disposal, anyway. It’s much easier to look up size conversion charts, and oftentimes, the online shops will include information on whether things run large or small.

Despite all this, it’s really best to get the opinions of people who have already tried the clothes on. That’s where the comments section comes in. Assuming there are lots of reviews, you’ll be able to learn whether the sizes run large or small, if certain elements don’t fit in the right way and whether it falls apart after a single wash. This can be useful in any situation, but especially when shopping in non-American online stores.

Talk To People In The Store

Yes, talking to people is a bit of a revolutionary idea, but it needn’t be your last resort. The one issue with this if you’re in a country that doesn’t speak English is likely the language barrier. That can be helped, however, with just a little bit of studying before you travel. Numbers will be valuable, so you can check out our guides to counting to 100 in French, Spanish, German and Italian. And here are a few useful phrases to get you started!

Do you have this in a smaller/larger size?

German: Hast du das auch eine Nummer kleiner/größer?
French: Vous l’avez dans une taille plus petite/grande ?
Italian: Avete anche una taglia più piccola/più grande?
Spanish: ¿Tienes una talla más pequeña/grande?
Portuguese:Você tem um tamanho maior/menor?
Norwegian: Har du en størrelse mindre/større?
Russian: У Вас есть это на размер меньше/больше? (U Vas est’ jeto na razmer men’she/bol’she?)

Can I try this on?

German: Kann ich das anprobieren?
French: Est-ce que je peux l’essayer ?
Italian: Si può provare?
Spanish: ¿Me lo puedo probar?
Portuguese: Posso provar/experimentar?
Norwegian: Kan jeg prøve den/det/de der? (Whether you use dendet and der depends on the grammatical gender of the item of clothing you’re referring to)
Russian: Можно это померить? (Mozhno jeto pomerit’?)

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