A blog for fashion, beauty, hair, cosmetics and lifestyle

19 May 2011

Highstreet Clothing Sizes - What's Going On?

In the changing rooms of Topshop, I was stuck in a pair of skinny jeans... Terrified that I'd have to rip them to get them off, I jumped up and down and realised sadly that in Topshop, I am a size 12 on my bum.

This may not sound shocking, but considering that in Marks & Spencer, New Look and several other shops I am in fact a size 8, I'm starting to wonder what's going on with sizing.

For a while now many of us have noticed that clothing sizes are getting stranger... Once we were all a certain size, no matter where we went but recently many of us fluctuate between 3 sizes depending on what shop we go to! These figures are shocking, and others have picked up on this. In fact a study by the Daily Mail shows how much sizes fluctuate 

  Interestingly, the standard British sizing guide which is the legal size for all clothes gives these statistics... showing that all the above shops are changing the sizes

Last night I asked on Twitter if others noticed this, and I had an overwhelming number of responses agreeing, stating that it made online shopping a nightmare (having to order 3 sizes!) and also makes changing room experiences stressful. @lizabelly also had the theory that sizes target their demographic. Topshop has smaller size 10s than other shops because the audience are younger.

It's not only vanity however which is affected, The Telegraph who wrote a fantastic article on this some time ago commented that mislabelling clothes is indeed dangerous, as obesity is becoming a bigger issue (no puns intended), by not knowing our true size and allowing us to feel slimmer than we are, it may hide some from the truth that they are unhealthily overweight and calls it "vanity sizing". Further more, with the average size of women being larger than those in the 1950s, it also poses a problem to those who sell vintage clothes. Although I may be a size 8 in most shops, I'm a size 12 in vintage clothing! Indeed, Marilyn Monroe may have been a famous size 16, but by todays standards she'd be a size 12!

That isn't my point though. Basically I'm just annoyed that shopping for clothes is becoming harder as sizes vary so greatly. I'm bored of having to buy 2 identical dresses on ASOS in a 8 and 10, to then have to send the one that doesn't fit back. It's putting me off shopping online completely for certain items - especially jeans!

What do you think? Are you also annoyed by strange sizes?



  1. Absolutely adore this post. The utter frustration in not knowing my size is horrible. It's also made worse because my 'sizes' are all small - I'm either a 4/6/8 so people seem to get really annoyed at me because they feel that because im on the slimmer side I should just shut up about it. It's so annoying though, I have no idea what will fit where and I'm sick of the mind-games - walking into one shop as one size and coming out a size or even two bigger! Jeans are the absolute worse and I'm pretty sure that's one major reason I barely ever wear them. Having had eating issues in the past/to some degree today it's not at all beneficial to me to put myself in that situation and that's why generally I steer away from fitted clothes - which is a complete waste of the body I've finally achieved!


  2. I definitely see this. I have fit into a size 6 in Primark but need a size 12 in Topshop.
    Topshop's sizes are notoriously small in my opinion as are ASOS. I haven't had a successful online shop in ages!

  3. Wow, loved this reply. Congratulations for starting to recover and I totally understand that after your hard work to get better that sizing difficulties is kind of the last thing you need. xxx

  4. There is def different sizes between brands, it doesn't bother me as everyone makes their clothes in their own way.
    I'm usually a 10 on top/ 12 on bottom, if I go somewhere and I fit in to an 8 on top and 10 on bottom I feel nice (i.e not that I've put on weight!) even though I know everywhere is different and I'm actually the same size I was in the last shop! ... you know what I mean ladies?

  5. Yeah I'm guilty of adoring a dress which is a size 6. It was in the sale though, so probably mis-labelled! x

  6. I'm a size 6-8-10 and in H&M i'm a size 12. It's crazy, I wish I could be one size.

  7. I agree. I think h&m has weird sizes too though. I remember last year I had to buy a size 12 jacket (I'm an 8 normally) and even that is too tight on me. The 14 was a perfect size on me but the arms were too long, but I refused to buy it. But then a week later I went into the same store and bought a size 6 dress which is still too large on me!? It's crazy. I also bought some leggings from there in a size 10 and the legs are slightly too long but the waist is uncomfortably tight! So who knows what's going on! I know maybe I would be different sizes in things because of my chest, but from a 6 to a 14, really!?!?! Great post :) xxx

  8. I agree. I have clothes ranging from size 8 to 16!
    I even have 2 New Look dresses that are a 10 and a 16.
    I have give up thinking I'm a particular size (I'd say a 12) and just grab 2/3 sizes to try on. It is annoying having to order 2 sizes online to return one and I don't always have the money to order so many!

  9. I 100% agree, especially with the Telegraph article! It can also be opposite, in that it damages your self-esteem when you find you're a bigger size in some stores. Very annoying, I never shop online forclothes anymore :/

  10. VERY annoyed with sizing!!!!!

  11. I'm so fed up with this aswell! I'm usually a size 12 but in New Look i'm a 10 and i went into Zara the other day and am apparently a large in their sizes! I've refused to buy stuff from H&M before because i've had to go up to a 14 which i don't think i am! Especially considering i have plenty of stuff from there that isn't a 14! It's so frustrating and just leads to eating disorders (or as the telegraph said, people not realising they are overweight)

    Great post xxx

  12. Oh my god! I totally agree with you!! this is happening in Malta as well! Last week I couldn't get in a Next dress in a size 8 (I'm usually a size 8) cause it fit me really tightly and then the size 10 was much bigger than I am!! In March I was in London and the same thing happened in loads of the highstreet shops there. At a particular moment I got stuck in a skinny jeans from Pull & Bear.. I couldn't even breathe and I almost fainted cause I couldn't get them off! I know skinny jeans are meant to be skinny but these were too skinny for my ankle to pass through and they were.. you guessed it a size 8. I had to get a size 12 so that I could get my thighs to go through it! Then, I grabbed an identical pair in a different colour and didn't bother trying it on so I got them in a size 12 also.. to my amazement when I went back to my hotel and tried them on they were really loose fitting so I had to go get a size 8! I don't know why they're doing this but I was getting the impression that maybe I was getting a bit chubby when in fact it's their sizing all along!!

  13. So true and annoying. Even in one single store. Today I was at Zara and on top I go for size x-small to medium on the top and size 4 to 6 in the bottoms. Makes it hard on us in the changing room !

  14. Yes I completely agree, in some shops I can be a size 6 and others I'm a size 10. It kind of gets you down as well cause you think what? I haven't put on weight why am I a size bigger than I normally am?! It's crazy! Very interesting post :)x

  15. i do that with internet shopping, buy everything in 2 sizes and then send it all back- i think its so daft we have to do it, i would much prefer that I was the same size in every shop. how do we petition this??!!!? xx

  16. This is true in the U.S. as well. The New York Times just did a fascinating piece about it, complete with a chart showing the vast differences among clothing lines in a U.S. size 8: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/25/business/25sizing.html

    I find it much easier to purchase jeans with European sizing. In the premium denim lines, a 30 is a 30 is a 30.

  17. Same here!! I always die a little inside when I keep trying things on at H&M and nothing fits until I get to 12 :( But here in the US, we have discount chains that are the opposite--a "12" at H&M is an extra small at Target!

  18. I totally agreed I recently did a huge holiday shop in H&M and the sizes I ended up buying ranged from a 6 to a 12?! And the 6 is quite baggy while the 12 is quite snug. The 12 was a pair of denim shorts and as a word of warning to anyone the denim shorts in H&M are tiny! I couldn't understand how I could be so many different sizes in just one shop! haha
    I agree this is a great post =]

  19. Brilliant post! I really enjoy your blog:-) I'm a standard 10 yet i bought some GAP jeans online in size 6US/10UK and they're too big. You're right - buying online is becoming impossible.
    P.S. When i read that you had to get a 12 in Topshop i laughed! No way you're bigger than an 8!

  20. Thanks for sharing this information with us !!

    Street Style

    Hug and kisses.

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    It's the only shopping comparison site that just returns clothes that will fit your body measurements, and tells you what size to purchase in each High Street store.
    Jeanius! ;o)

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