Sizing is the main reason for online fashion returns… or is it? Next time you try on a garment that’s a little tight… try another in the same size.

You may be surprised when you find a difference. Sometimes a big difference! This is because the processes within clothing manufacture (like pattern cutting and sewing) remains particularly manual. It means you rarely find garments identically sized (let alone symmetrical!)

What’s more, in HOLM’s ongoing research, we see variances of 10-15% in the same garments (i.e. same label size, same colour and design). For example, we found a 6cms difference around the chest on a major high street retailer’s medium size polo shirt. That’s a difference of ‘snug’ or ‘loose’ depending which one you selected!

This highlights that ‘SIZING’ recommendation is flawed. Made worse, when you realise that even when you do find a correct size fit, it doesn’t mean it looks good on you.

Sizing is such a red herring

One of the options for returning clothes online is to tick the box that it doesn’t fit. Suggesting the issue is sizing right? Well actually, it’s more often wrong.

Cristina Holm, a personal stylist, fashion retail veteran and now founder of HOLM, knows it’s a red herring. “Shoppers frequently order clothes I know won’t suit them. I’ve weeded hundreds of wardrobes as a stylist. The problem is the wrong style, not the size.”

“For example, I am a pear shape and a pencil skirt will never ‘fit’ me, no matter how accurate the size may be. However more than 90% of people don’t understand this. If they did, they wouldn’t order the garment in the first place. Similarly, why would they tick a box to say it was the ‘wrong style for their shape’ given if they understood this from the off, it would never have been ordered.”

It’s also why Cristina created HOLM. Unsuccessful shopping and trying on clothes that will never look good is bad for people’s confidence. The reverse applies when you only buy clothing that looks great on you. Seeing this emotional satisfaction first hand as a stylist, it’s something that needs to be scaled to everyone.

About HOLM

HOLM has created a digital stylist in an app, providing accurate and unbiased ‘STYLE’ recommendation according to the customer’s unique body shape (in addition to sizing guidance). Focusing on clothes that will only look great on customers, by using key body measurements to understand their shape and then overlaying Cristina’s expertise and styling know how as to which garment styles best complement.

We avoid ‘predictive’ algorithms (like previous purchase history – which is another huge flaw and blog post altogether) and have developed our software with more than 10 years of 1:1 customer research and thousands of body shapes to validate our recommendation modelling. Our algorithms were intentionally designed to work with fact based data – which is why we give highly accurate recommendation from the off.

It’s an application that works in the hands of store staff, turning them into the equivalent of a highly productive stylist (but without the training or higher costs of having a real one). It’s a magical shopping experience as we simply show customers what’s in-store and/or online that they will look great wearing – in less than two minutes. Even better, when they try on styles that really do complement their shape, sizing that’s snug or loose becomes far less relevant as it will still look good wearing either.

If you’d like to know more about how HOLM ( can help your fashion brand, please contact