A Promise of Help Finding Clothes That Fit

Find it hard to pick the right size when you buy clothes online? Melissa Adelman says her new website, SizeMeUpOnline.com, is coming to your rescue.

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RACHEL MARTIN, host:

So Alison, I'm not a big shopper.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: I'm just going to fess up right now. For me, it's the fitting rooms. I hate these things - the lines, the fluorescent lights. You never look good, the curtains that never really close all the way...

(Soundbite of laughter)

ALISON STEWART, host:

Yes, yeah.

MARTIN: So much so that if I can, I actually will - I can't believe I'm saying this - but I discreetly will just be on the sales floor and just slip on, you know, no one's looking, just put on the skirt, put on the shirt.

STEWART: Oh, that's a lot less embarrassing than a curtain that isn't closed all the way.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: No, I do that junior high, where nothing really shows, and you can like put your hands through. Anyway, what's the alternative, really? You could shop online.

STEWART: Ah, yes, yes, yes.

MARTIN: It all seems so easy: click, point, bye. Until you get the package and the dress you've been waiting for weeks and it hangs off you like a giant muumuu.

Unidentified Woman: I had this awful experience online. I ordered a pair a pants that claimed to be ankle length, and it came out to be normal regular length, and it was about five inches too long. And I was assured that online it was the proper length for a shorter person, and it wasn't. It was a pain because I ended up having to pay the shipping to get here, pay the shipping to return, and (unintelligible). So I didn't end up with anything in the end, but I had to pay all this money.

Unidentified Man: We got them in the complete wrong size, sent it back, got the wrong size again. And it's just, you know, by the time you get the clothes the right size, you know, it's not winter anymore. You don't need them.

MARTIN: Those interviews were conducted by a new company called Size Me Up, which is trying the way people shop for clothing online. The company, which was started by three University of North Carolina students, has created this online application which provides people with this quick and easy way to translate their size from one label to another. Here to tell us how all this works is Melissa Adelman?

Ms. MELISSA ADELMAN (Co-founder, Partner, SizeMeUpOnline.com): Adelman.

MARTIN: Adelman, I'm sorry. A co-founder and partner of Size Me Up. Thanks for coming in, Melissa.

Ms. ADELMAN: Oh, thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here.

MARTIN: So I'm assuming that you must have some kind of personal problems finding clothes that fit you. Is that what you triggered this whole thing?

Ms. ADELMAN: Absolutely. I'm very tall for a female, I'm 5'10", and I always had trouble finding an inseam that was long enough to fit me. In some brands I would take a long, what that company would call a long, and then in other brands I would try on that brand's long, and it would barely make it past my knees. And I saw the inconsistencies between brands, and I knew that there was a big problem, and especially when it comes to shopping online where you can't try it on. I knew there had to be a solution.

MARTIN: There's also this phenomenon called vanity sizing, which I personally have experienced. When you go and you by a pair of jeans that you would expect fit me, like, whatever, 8, 9, 10-sized jeans, and then I go to another store and all of a sudden I'm a size 2. And I'm like, oh, my gosh, I'm so skinny.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ADELMAN: Yeah, it makes you went to buy it, right?

MARTIN: But I'm not hallucinating, right? They're doing this on purpose.

Ms. ADELMAN: Absolutely. And that's what makes it even more difficult to buy online, because how do you know which sizes are, you know, which brands are doing those sizing and which brands aren't?

MARTIN: Yeah. So what did you decide that you needed to do to fix this? What's your solution?

Ms. ADELMAN: So we came up with an idea for this tool that's going to help people find their right size, basically, as you said, comparative sizing. It's a new concept. We actually just got it patented in the U.S. and in Canada. And...

STEWART: You want to take a drink of water.

Ms. ADELMAN: Thank you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: I know it's hard. Like, when you go to - say you like a pair of jeans at Ann Taylor, and then you go to Gap, and then you go over to - decide to really blow big money at 7 for All Mankind.

MARTIN: Total inconsistency.

STEWART: Yeah.

MARTIN: So you've come up with a way where people can actually go into their closet, measure their favorite pieces of clothing, enter this information in your database, and then what kind of - what do they get for doing this?

Ms. ADELMAN: Actually, they don't even have to measure it. They just have to know what sizes fit them in their favorite items of clothing. So, basically, they would go to our Web site, SizeMeUpOnline.com, enter their closet - basically, we call it share your closet. And they enter their favorite well-fitting items of clothing. It's stored in the database, and then when this tool is available on the online retailer's site, all they have to do is click the button and it'll appear with what size that they are in the item that they would wish to purchase.

MARTIN: So just to clarify, so I go to the Web site, I say, okay, I'm going to pull out this blouse, this pair of jeans, and I enter like a SKU number or some kind of ID number for that piece of clothing?

Ms. ADELMAN: Really, all you have to enter is the brand, the size, and if there's a style name or a style number on there. That's basically all you need. More information is always more helpful, but that's all you need to get a size recommendation.

MARTIN: And so this program is going to tell me what size I am in a Calvin Klein jean or something else?

STEWART: It's like a currency converter.

Ms. ADELMAN: Absolutely. That's actually what I say to equate for people who don't understand it. It's kind of like a currency converter for different brands.

MARTIN: And who do you think is gong to use this?

Ms. ADELMAN: All the online retailers, we're hoping.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: It's not up yet, though, correct?

Ms. ADELMAN: Right. We're still collecting data, because the more data we have on people's well-fitting items, the more information we have about what fits in what brand versus what size.

And it's amazing some of the things we get in there. You see people's closets, and some people are a size 0 in one brand and a size 8 in another. It's really unbelievable. But the more information we get about that, the better our tool is going to be.

MARTIN: Okay. Well, we will look forward to the launch of Size Me Up, sizemeup.com?

Ms. ADELMAN: It's SizeMeUpOnline.com.

MARTIN: SizeMeUpOnline.com.

Ms. ADELMAN: And our tool is going to be called Size Wand.

MARTIN: Okay. Well, good luck to you. It's a very entrepreneurial adventure that you've embarked upon. Melissa Adelman, co-founder and partner of Size Me Up. Thanks for coming in.

Ms. ADELMAN: Thank you.

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