Forgive me for constantly banging on about dress sizes and sticking up headless photos all the time, but when I saw the campaign that Gemma at Retro Chick had set up, I knew it was something I had to get behind. As well as sharing a first name, Gemma and I share very similar views when it comes to UK clothing sizes. We’re fed up of the huge variations, vanity sizing, and obsession with numbers. And what is even worse than obsessing over the label in your clothes is walking into a shop and having absolutely no idea which size to try on in the first place.
I’m pretty sure all of us have a variety of sizes in our wardrobes. That’s just how it goes. Different shops cut in different ways. We’ve all been in the fitting rooms, trying on our usual size only to find it either hangs off our body or won’t even get close to zipping up. And the guesswork that comes with buying clothing drives me mad. It makes shopping online a virtual lottery. Will that size 14 fit? Does the size chart actually represent the measurements of the finished garment?
I’ve tried to illustrate this above with a few of the dresses I’ve featured on this site before. I weigh pretty much the same in all the photos above, give or the odd pound here or there. I think of myself as about a size 14, but I have everything from a 10 to a 16. I know that Peacocks, New Look and Debenhams cut big, I know that in H&M I should try the 16 first and work down from there. But I go into a new or unfamiliar shop, and I often have no idea where to begin.
The sizing charts for the major high street stores show that one size can vary by up to a couple of inches depending on which shop you’re in. As a rule, younger stores size down, more ‘mature’ stores size up (both for reasons of vanity sizing). Gemma’s campaign is for clearer clothing sizes on the high street. Not so much for a ‘one size everywhere’ policy, which is probably a bit too much to ask.
But pushing brands to actually stick to their sizing charts, and publish them on clothing labels rather than just on their websites so we have something to go on, is a good start.
She’s also encouraging bloggers to ‘fess up, share their exact measurements, and talk about their struggles with finding the perfect fit. So, on that note…
My current measurements are 37.5 – 29.5 – 39 inches. This makes me a size 14 in most shops, according to size charts. But I’ve recently found that, due to vanity sizing, size 12s often fit me better, especially in shops prone to adding ease. I own one size 10, from the ridiculously generous Pearl Lowe collection at Peacocks. How any woman more than an inch or two smaller than me manages to find anything from that range to fit them is beyond me. Talk about adding ease!
There is nothing wrong with shops cutting their clothes to cater to a specific audience. I realise, for example, that though I get angry with H&M sizing, there are plenty of A-cup girls who absolutely love the fact they can go in there and buy something that doesn’t feel baggy up top like in every other shop. But I agree with Gemma that there needs to be some clarity. Nobody should be wearing three different sizes from the same shop, which has happened to me in the past.
So, to high street stores we say this: establish some rules, let your suppliers and factories know exactly what size chart they’re working to and what ease they should be adding. Stick to these rules so the consumer knows where she stands. And stop making one range big and one range small within the same store.
In short, throw us a frickin’ bone!