I have an expensive lesson I would like to share with you – one that took me two times to figure out: As a woman, I CANNOT simply follow weight charts when ordering a man’s gi.

My experience:
In March 2011 I decided to buy some gis. I’m 5’4″ and weighed 190lbs. Weight charts for gis give height and weight. All the advice I had read said you should always choose the larger number when choosing a gi. If you are tall and skinny, choose based on height. If you’re short and fat, choose based on weight. I’m the latter, so that’s what I did.

I wanted to buy a Black Eagle gi, and I looked at their size chart:

5’1″-5’5″ 110-140 160cm (A1)
5’5″-5’9″ 140-170 170cm (A2)
5’8″-6’0″ 150-190 175cm (A2.5)
5’9″-6’1″ 170-200 180cm (A3)
6’0″-6’4″ 200-250 190cm (A4)
6’4″ up 225-275 200cm (A5)

I thought – PERFECT – I’ll get an A2.5, even though it will be tall on me, the weight matches. Ordered the gi, paid my money, eagerly awaited it, it arrived, I put it on and…

What happens when a woman orders a man's gi by weight.

Sadly, I looked like I was a kid trying on my daddy’s gi. 🙁 I wanted to cry–the fabric felt AMAZING and I wanted so much to fit it. Then I realized – a 190 lb man is MUCH bigger than a 190 lb woman. DOPE!

Advice
If you’re buying a men’s gi for the first time, contact their customer service department. Tell them your measurements rather than weight, and ask them which size you should order. After my SNAFU I contacted Black Eagle’s customer service and this is what they wrote me back:

“Hi Julia, we are confident the Ladies Gi will be a perfect fit, a sample is on its way to us for testing etc. As soon as we release this, I will let you know. Based on the measurements you emailed me, I would not have recommended you bought an A2.5!!”

Lesson learned. Email first. The price for return shipping from Korea to the UK would have been outrageous, so I just sold mine. However, I had such a good interaction with them that I will absolutely buy a Predadora when I return to the mats.