One size doesn’t fit all…

Every single woman has had this problem at least once in their whole life. They have gone into a high street store and picked up for instance a size 10 and sometimes it turns out to be too small or too big. It seems that the high street stores have their own size guidelines. Part of the problem that the high street retailers have encountered is that the changing shape of women. The average woman nowadays is 5 ft 5. Women’s busts are now bigger and so are their hips and waist. So a woman that would have been a size 10 50 years ago is now a size 12 in Britain nowadays. The varying differences between the sizes means that shopping can often be a exhausting and annoying process for many women. To try and solve this problem computer programmer Anna Powell-Smith to create the site What Size Am I? which tells women what sizes they are in many of the high street and online retailers. This means that women can get an accurate view of how different retailers determine what size is what

A trick that a lot of retailers do is that they make the clothes bigger so the consumer is fooled into thinking they are a smaller size so that they think they are a size 10 when in some shops they may be an 8. This playing with the sizes of clothing is often called ‘vanity sizing’ so that the clothes make the women think they are smaller than they actually are. if a woman finds say a size 12 for example quite tight they could be reluctant to buy a size 14. One device that many retailers and online retailers use is they use very slim models to advertise their clothes so women that are above a size 10 think that they can’t wear those clothes because they assume they would not look good in the clothes. It is possible to make your figure look slimmer by just chossing the right cut to fit your shape or the right colours etc. In my experience the one thing I find difficult to find is jeans or dresses. Because retailers assume that all women have larger busts so they cut the garment to accomodate this, however sometimes the size 8 does fit properly so I have to down to a 6 which often doesn’t fit my wide hips. Due to the fact that most high street retailers seem to follow their own guidelines some stores class size 10 as small whereas others class small as a size 8. One example of how sizing can vary in the high street is when I tried a dress on in H&M yesterday. It claimed it was a size 8 and I am a 8 in most stores and usually I can easily fit into a size 8 i H&M. This time I was wrong. I could not get the dress over my hips and because the top was so tight I managed to get it stuck (it took me 20 minutes to get out of it).

It isn’t just the high street stores that have the problems of size variation. classes a size 8 as 31-25-35 and Forever21 only gives the bust measurement and they class a 6/8 as having a 34 inch bust. It seems that Forever21 also cuts their fabrics bigger to make the cosumer believe that they are smaller than they think they are. One problem that many petite women find (me included) is that many stores – including online – do not tailer for petite women. Most jeans are too long in the leg and the dresses are not sut to fit the petite figure. There are a few stores that provide petite ranges such as Wallis, TopShop and ASOS. A lot of online stores class size 8-10 as a small which means that often a size 8 figure would be slightly swamped by the fabric.

The average British women is now a size 14 however it seems that many clothes are tailored to fit smaller figures and some stores even class a size 12 as ‘plus size’ or ‘curvy’. In a Daily Mail article in March of this year they sent a size 12 woman to try on clothes in several high street stores. The two results that I found shocking were that in both Marks and Spencer and Jaeger the size 8 fitted her. It just goes to show that some high street stores have a different view on what measurements a size 8 and a size 12 is. It seems that in most stores she had to go one size up or one size down.

Alas there is also a downside to the vanity sizing that most stores adopt. If the size they try on it too small it often makes the woman feel even more self conscious about her body and the way she looks. This doesn’t just apply to larger women but also to skinny women. People assume that skinny women find it easy to find clothes, it isn’t. Seems like the high street and online stores need to re-think how they size their clothes as they don’t seem to think about the way women look at themselves


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