Emotion, Shopping and You

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

In case you missed it, I was on Woman’s Hour last week talking about clothing sizes.

You can listen to the interview on listen again.

I’m only bringing it up because I’m now calm enough to have a think again about that final question.

If you can’t be bothered to listen I shall tell you! The final point made by Ed Gribbin, president of Alvanon, was that women were “too emotional” when purchasing clothes for themselves. When purchasing for their children or partners they were calm and rational. when faced with purchases for themselves, however, it’s apparently not the fault of varying sizes from store to store or a lack of communication from the retailers that we find it frustrating and difficult to buy clothing that fits, it’s because we’re irrational and over emotional.

At the time I was too busy trying to frame a proper answer to think about it, but as I headed home, read tweets and thought about it more I got crosser and crosser. Today I intend to masterfully refrain from the use of expletives and address some of the points made by the talkative Ed Gribbin in my own time.

It’s quite long, so I hope you’ll bear with me!

Women’s Proportions change with Age

A lot of time was spent talking about “fit”, rather than size. This makes sense as it appears that Alvanons main business is producing fit models. I think that most of us, when considering our size in a shop are perfectly able to take their own proportions into account. Being aware that your waist is slightly thicker than average, or your hips slightly larger might lead you to take a couple of different sizes into a changing room. It doesn’t explain why a full skirted dress in a size 10 might fit you in one store, but in another you can’t get the 14 done up.

I, for instance, am well aware that my waist to hip ratio is considerably different from the UK average. I therefore never attempt to buy fitted dresses or pencil skirts on the High Street. If I wanted them to fit I know they would need altering and it’s rarely worth it.

I feel that this argument is rather self limiting as stores aimed at a younger market aren’t generally making the kind of clothes a 45 year old woman wants to buy anyway, but even if she did I see no reason why a size 12 skirt should be 2 sizes too small in TopShop and a perfect fit in Wallis. It might not SUIT her, the proportions might be all wrong. It could be too long or unflattering on that saddle bag area, but it shouldn’t be far too small.

Women don’t know their measurements

I do. I also know how they vary. I know what the minimum and maximum waist and hip measurement I can get away with is before I am no longer able to eat lunch. This is something I have in common with most women who shop for vintage clothes, they’ll also have an idea of any slightly unusual measurements so they can check an item will fit a long torso or wide shoulders.

If I’m buying a full skirt, I know that the main measurement to take into account is my waist, where as a more fitted garment it would be my hips (waists can be altered), and I’ll pick my size appropriately.

I think the reason many women DON’T know their measurements is that it serves them no good to do so. If I purchased clothing from Next based on the measurements given on their sizing guide I would conclude that my bust and hips are a size 14 and my waist a 12. This is as I would expect as I am already aware that I have a smaller than average waist. I would then, perfectly reasonably, assume that the best thing to do would be to purchase this empire line dress in a size 14 to fit my bust.

Wrong. I own that dress in a size 10, having already sold on a 12 as it was too big.

When a companies own size guide seems to bear no relation to reality, what is the point of being aware of your measurements?

Women know their shape

True, I’ll give him this one.

Women do know their shape and the fact that stores don’t accurately communicate the shape they are building to probably loses them custom. If I knew there was a brand out there building to that “quite curvy” shape where I could purchase a skirt that fit on my waist and hips then they would probably have a new loyal customer.

That still wouldn’t help me know whether I needed a size 12 or 14 or 16 and is therefore completely pointless when picking up clothes to take into a changing room.

Women are too emotional about their clothing purchases

I really think the implication behind this is incredibly insulting and returns to the gender politics of shopping, that I’ve discussed before. It also carries an assumption that being emotional is automatically a bad thing.

The way I see it there are 2 general types of emotion women experience when shopping for clothes for themselves.

  • Expectant Emotions
  • Emotions stemming from the idea or act of buying something new.

    The excitement you feel when you purchase something online and imagine the wonderful outfits you’ll be able to put together once it arrives. That thrill of knowing you have an event coming up and you have money to buy yourself something new. Flicking through a magazine with new season styles or looking at the new stock on your favourite website. Picking up the perfect dress and the anticipation of where you might wear it.

    These are the emotions that magazines and shop window displays want to encourage. They create brightly lit, attractive displays and lifestyle oriented advertising to encourage you to shop. In it’s darkest incarnation these emotions can lead to anxiety and frustration, and even things like shopping addiction as we’re encouraged to believe that buying a new handbag really WILL give us the glamorous life of an international super star. This is also why I now very rarely read fashion magazines.

  • Disappointment Emotions
  • Emotions stemming from the mismatch between your expectation and the reality.

    That frustration that reduces many women, myself included, to tears when having visited 4 stores and tried on 4 different sizes and 12 different styles of plain black trouser has failed to produce a single one that’s comfortable and wearable. The way you feel when the dress you ordered from a catalogue turns out to be cheap and nasty instead of beautifully tailored like it looked on the model. The irritation when a store has every size known to man, except yours.

    The responsibility for controlling either of these type of emotion can’t be laid, as Ed Gribbin suggests, squarely at the foot of the female consumer, and neither should it!

    Purchasing clothing SHOULD be partly an emotional experience. If you care about what you look like then that’s an emotion and not one we should be trying to get rid of. I think the current popularity of stretchy clothes, baggy T shirts and leggings is down, in part, to an attempt to control that emotion. If it’s stretchy and baggy then it can’t possibly not fit/suit and you avoid those negative emotions. I certainly know there was a lot more lycra in my wardrobe when I was heavier.

    What stores want is to encourage lots of lovely positive emotions in you. Those emotions keep you shopping to get that nice feeling. They manipulate the first type of emotion using advertising and window displays. The second emotion is harder to control, but if they want you to feel good about your purchases they don’t want you disappointed and upset. Tactics like vanity sizing make you feel more positive about the fit of the clothes you buy, as do modern day staples like elasticated waists and arms and jersey fabrics, all minimising the risk of something not fitting and making you feel bad.

    So don’t feel bad about getting emotional about your clothes and shopping, but do take responsibility for those emotions. Don’t let them be manipulated by stores who want you to spend your money on unflattering, over priced, badly made clothes.

    Become an emotional, but educated, consumer. Be realistic about your body and what suits it and don’t let the number on the label sway your head. Being a size 10 means nothing, it’s just a number and can represent a hip size from 34.3″ on the British Standard Size Chart to 37.5″ at Next

    Until retailers agree to communicate their “shape” models better, have more accurate sizing charts, add measurements to their labels (you see this in vintage, why did they stop?) and stick to a standard size scheme there isn’t a great deal we can do about the mis-match in sizes.

    My advice?

    Send emails to your favourite retailers asking them to be clearer about their sizing policy. Complain loudly if you buy clothes online that don’t agree to the sites size chart, and if you can’t find a size chart email them and ask.

    Buy a tape measure, learn your measurements, and don’t be afraid to whip it out in shops to check clothes sizing before you take them into the changing room.

    Unless we make a noise about the lack of standardisation in clothes sizes and how we feel about them it will always be men like Ed Gribbin who get the last say on what we get from a shopping experience. It’s your money, if you’re not happy, speak out!

    If you made it this far, then BRAVO!

    I’d REALLY like to hear your thoughts and experiences on the issue.

    photos by freeparking, ashley rose, and clotho98


    38 Responses
    • Jess
      January 26, 2011


      Bravo! I love, love, love shopping and yet it’s one of the most stressful things I can do. When I was most definitely a size 16/18 it was a depressing experience. A size 18 would fit in one shop and I’d be over the moon.

      But then in another shop, such as River Island, for example, wouldn’t fit. That’s the biggest size River Island do. That’s so frustrating.

      Now that I’m a bit smaller, I generally have a bit more leway, if “my size” is too small then there’s always the next size up for me to try.

      I don’t understand why there’s no standardisation or real, useful information on sizing available to women.

      It wouldn’t need to be such a stressful, emotional experience if I could find something in my damn size!

    • Fiona Culshaw
      January 26, 2011

      Gosh this is quite a tough subject isn’t it? I have to say I haven’t shopped in high street stores for years. I only used to shop in high street stores for work clothes when I worked for someone else as a lot of my clothes are either self made or vintage.

      However when I did shop in high street stores I too have been reduced to tears – well almost. I have the problem – see is it really a problem or how I am?!!! – that I am very short and have a big bust. I used to try to find ‘work’ blouses and I never ever could, if they fit on my bust they would be enormous on the shoulders, the waist wasn’t in the right place, they were cut so low they showed my bra, and never ever worked, so at work I lived in sweaters or smart t shirts!

      I can only imagine the frustration of always shopping on the high street, in a way I feel lucky that I can not only sew but vintage clothes are very much more my shape than modern clothes.

      great article!

    • Helen
      January 26, 2011

      Well you know what I think about that bloke! To hear that coming from a bloke was probably more patronising than saying women don’t understand the off-side rule. We can’t understand a man’s game of kicking a ball about, and we can’t even go into a shop without bursting into tears and rolling about on the floor presenting a perfect rendition of Freud’s conception of hysteria.

      I think online shops should be realistic with their size charts too. I draw one up for every different dress I sell *because they vary even within the same label*. I’ve been caught out myself. The retailer wastes their time as well as the customer’s if they just stick up some random chart that bears no relation at all to reality.

      AND THEN WE GET EMOTIONAL! It’s called being pissed off.

      • Retro Chick
        January 26, 2011

        Yes, that’s so helpful to have the measurements for each dress on your site!

        A brilliant idea, as dresses with different styles will have different proportions.

        • Helen
          February 2, 2011

          I really don’t know why more people don’t do it! It seems really obvious to me.

    • Helen
      January 26, 2011

      ALSO!!! I was wondering… you know the bra survey What Katie Did is doing? I think this feeds into the same debate. All these women finding out they’ve got 26GG boobs and thinking they’d got bigger thanks to oestrogen in the water table, and it turns out that bra manufacturers were just altering bra measurements without telling anyone.

      • Perdita
        January 26, 2011

        I thought vintage sizes were smaller though? I seem to remember being recommended an E cup (I’m 32DD) when buying What Katy Did. Or maybe I’m remembering wrong.

    • Mademoisellecherie
      January 26, 2011

      It isn’t a long article it is a big, well documented post about a issue we all have.

      Well, I know my mother and my sister have it too, it’s something… and yes, I was pretty distubed when a vintage bra I ordered in 34DD happend to be incredibly to small, and it’s big brother in 36 too…

      It IS awfull for us when we spoiled a long, promising day looking for something we do not find in the stores, and if I knew a shop for “quite curvy” shapes they’ll find a very constant costumer in me too.

      Being emotional is a very other issue.

      Ed Gribbin pobably has a mother/whife/sister/watherver to buy his clothes and has no idea how difficult it is to create something joyfull and elegant from nothing while we are fighting againts bad mesuremement chart.

      • Amy
        January 26, 2011

        I know how disturbed you feel, I went into Topshop to discover that my usual 34C was too big. Er what? :'(

        • Amy
          January 26, 2011

          *too small
          I managed to fit the 34D and I complained that it must be mislabeled, a bit cheeky but I know my measurements and I know I’m certainly not a D.

    • Caroline
      January 26, 2011

      I too have a somewhat exaggerated waist to hip ratio. I’m hugely proud of my waist, and go out of my way to highlight it wherever possible. Which, it should be noted, is not nearly as often the case as I’d like, thanks to modern-fit clothes made for thicker waisted women…

      But I digress. As someone who buys a lot of secondhand and vintage, I rely entirely on measurements these days, and take no heed whatsoever of the size of an item of clothing. I have a paper tape measure in my wallet on a permanent basis, and get some very funny looks when I whip it out in charity shops – but know that it’s worth it to get home with a dress that has a chance in hell of fitting properly!

      I’ve ranted at length on my own blog about sizing on the high street in recent years. It is not an emotional issue, it’s a mathematical one! If we’re going to run with a standard sizing method, we need to address the lack of standardized sizing!

    • Lynn Coffill
      January 26, 2011

      What an incredibly good article. Written with intelligence & sensitivity I was really interested in what you have to say.

      I’m a custom corset maker & one of the biggest things I’ve found in the 3 years I’ve been doing this is just how none standard women are. You cover the issue of waist to hip ratio really well & I wasn’t surprised to hear you like genuine vintage clothing. Tailoring methods were quite different then & clothing patterns you could buy actually matched the sizing found in a shop.

      Today’s correlation between pattern size & dress size are vastly different. When making a dress, I find a client who is say a size 14 in the shops quite often requires the pattern sized as a 20 to ensure the finished garment measurements match the genuine size of the client. How demoralising would any woman find that???

      Like you have said in your article – Clothing labels sizes are merely a number. A well fitting garment that suits that person’s body shape will always look stunning, irrespective of what number is on the clothing label or even on the tape measure.

      • Retro Chick
        January 26, 2011

        Yes, I wear a size 12-14, but the standard sizing chart gives me size 18-20 hips!

        It’s only depressing because we’ve learnt to associate that number with being big!

        • Perdita
          January 26, 2011

          Although if it’s any comfort, there were ladies back in the 40s and 50s (my Gran, for example) who had a different figure from the ‘norm’ but could only afford off-the-peg. But as she said, because it was far more usual to make your own AND many department stores had seamstresses, people took the time to make sure things fitted. Modern stores just don’t have those facilities and most people don’t have the time and skill to adjust things.

    • Sarah
      January 26, 2011

      You are so right; and it is hard for vintage retailers too, as we are the ones who are often trying to explain to someone who has spied a gorgeous vintage dress, that they may not need a size 12 after all. Nothing to do with the person intending on buying the dress, but all to do with the manipulation of modern retailers to avoid the “disappointment” of shoppers, create a buzz of seretonin, that they’ll remember, and then return to the store.

      Couldn’t agree more with the post, well done for speaking up.


    • Mim
      January 26, 2011

      I’m forever buying the wrong sized clothes. I have no problem with my measurements in inches, but that little number on the label gets me every time. I don’t have such a problem with charity shopping, probably because I start out with lower expectations (‘what will I find’ rather than, ‘I want this!’).

      (Having a thick waist doesn’t help as it means I’m sized out of a number of high street shops. For all those ladies having trouble because their waists are small, it’s no more fun at the other end of the spectrum!)

    • LandGirl1980
      January 26, 2011

      “…that magazines and shop window displays want to encourage. They create brightly lit, attractive displays and lifestyle oriented advertising to encourage you to shop.”

      Totally. I had this experience today in M&S. They had a lovely green cardigan on a mannequin, holding a vagually “vintage” style bag and I was in the shop like a shot. The cardy has wonderful button detailing on the neckline and I thought “Thats the 40’s-esque cardy for me!”

      Alas. 3 sizes later and it was STILL gaping across the bust. I even went to a Size 20 in my desperation to own the garment (I am usually a 16/18 – big boobage) but it was just the arms getting longer & wider, as well as the cardy getting bigger round the waist. Ridiculous.

      But – I tried to quell my emotion (we all know how women are usually jibbering wrecks.. ffs) and thought “meh.. it’s £30 I have saved. It’s not even that nicely made for the money” and promptly told the changing room assistant why I was not taking any of them. She told me someone else had said the same thing earlier.

      (needless to say – where the cardy failed, a pair of shoes succeeded – so I ended up spending that “saved” £30 anyway..ho hum.)

      • Retro Chick
        January 26, 2011

        I have that problem with trousers! If they fit on my waist then they’re too long and massive on the waist!

    • Style Eyes
      January 26, 2011

      I can’t usually find clothes that fit right in Topshop and New Look but find Oasis and M&S stuff fits much better.I find the sizes are slightly more generous in these too than many others aswell.

      I definitely get emotional. Due to time constraints and where I live, I do virtually all of my shopping on the internet. It is so annoying when I can’t even fit the arm hole past my elbow or trousers over my knee. I have pretty much given up buying trousers as I can never get any to fit.

    • Meghan
      January 26, 2011

      THANK you for pointing out that even the size charts stores use are totally inaccurate. I know my own measurements, and have used them to buy online before, only to have clothes arrive and have them be much too big. Even if ease is factored in (which would also be useful information to have on a size chart), it’s just ridiculous, and totally buys into the “oh women are so EMOTIONAL about shopping, let’s just tell them all they have a 25″ waist so they don’t cry in the fitting room” ethos. You know what would make me less emotional? Going into a shop knowing I can take a few different sizes into a fitting room and be sure they’ll be anywhere near my actual size. As it is, shopping by the label size alone is essentially a lucky dip.

    • LandGirl1980
      January 26, 2011

      .. forgot to say… fab post!! I hope it leads to more national discussion on the topic!

    • Gem
      January 26, 2011

      HEAR HEAR GEMMA! It enrages me that you can go to a shop and measure up two of the same size and they’ll invariably be different. I overheard a shop assistant bitching about the fact I was measuring two tops up saying that she couldn’t understand why people did it, it’s stupid, blah blah blah… At that point I picked out two of the same size items one of which was miles bigger. I made a point of showing her she looked embarrassed… the moo. That Ed is talking rubbish, I want to give him a good talking to.

      • Retro Chick
        January 26, 2011

        ha ha! Brilliant! I’d have loved to be there for that 😀

    • paperdoll
      January 26, 2011

      I have similar problems when buying clothes from the high street. However at five feet one and a tea-leaf, height is my issue, yes I can buy petite however manufacturers remove length from both torso and the overall length, thus making trousers for example too short in the body, now I buy “standard” and shorten the length myself if required. Having a long time ago decided that I will never find anything that fits well, I gave up worrying and now just hope for the best!!!!! Excellent work Gemma!

      • Perdita
        January 26, 2011

        Oh yes! Tell me about it. Petite ranges are bizarre sometimes.

    • Hannah Cruse
      January 26, 2011

      As a healthy girl girl of 19, I personally get depressed when my friends are buying size 10s in TopShop and I’m there trying to squeeze into a 14. Even my friends don’t believe that I’m a 14 in TopShop but due to having 40/30/40 measurements I’m just not going to get into anything smaller. Many companies promote that they embrace curves, but in reality not many mirror their clothes to do the same. How demoralising!

      Great article! And I hope somewhere, some how, someone from the highstreet is reading this and taking note!

    • Fi Phillips
      January 26, 2011

      As a pear, I’ve always been a size bigger on the bottom than the top so there’s already something I have to keep in mind when clothes shopping. Over the years I’ve got to know which shops are generous in their sizes and which scrimp on their cut – I suppose that comes down to age and experience – so I can usually gauge what size to go for in most shops but that doesn’t alter the fact that I sometimes have to try things on to know that they’ll fit. It would be good to be able to just pick an appropriate size off the rail with a visit to the changing rooms.

      As far as emotional shopping goes, I don’t have the budget or the time to treat clothes shopping as a pastime. I probably get more emotional about buying clothes for my children than my own wardrobe.

      Thanks for this article.

    • Franca
      January 26, 2011

      I totally and utterly agree with you. I mainly shop in charity shops, where i basically look at the garnment and will try on anything between a size 8 and a 16, if it looks right. The only other shops I am a semi-regular shopper in are h&m and people tree, both of which i’ve found to be fairly consistent.

      I also wanted to point out that this thing about size charts and actual sizes not matching up isn’t restricted to shop. I’m not a sewist, but have made/had made for me a few patterns off burdastyle, and according to their measurements my hips and are a size 46 or something silly (I am usually a size 38-40 on that sizing scale), and then you always have to take it in ginormous amounts to get it to fit. I don’t actually care what size I am, I just want to have a way of gauging how much fabric I should be cutting up!

    • Perdita
      January 26, 2011

      The point he made about ’emotion’ is utterly hypocritical; almost the entire fashion industry (including nice markets like vintage, 2nd hand only and alt) are based on emotion. Otherwise we’d all be wearing something highly practical, easy to wash and indentical to each other (I assume it would look like a primary school jogging-suit uniform). To my knowledge, this has never happened: people choose clothes using emotion. His industry makes its bread-and-butter from emotion, it’s pretty churlish and petty to cry foul when the emotions the customer expresses don’t suit them.

      In practical terms, my bugbear is when a shop doesn’t make clothes that ACTUALLY match its sizing policy. H&M are notoriously bad at this. I have actually bought the same item in different colours (in the same size) and they were different sizes in reality (because, silly me, I thought if the grey top fitted, the identical green one would be the same so I didn’t try both on). Surely that is a breach of the trades’ description act?? Grr.

      My final irritation comes into the zone of size and emotion at a bit of a tangent. Curvy is a body shape, NOT a size. When I was 17 i was size 6-8 and curvy (yes, that is possible- sorry, when I say that someone usually says it’s impossible and I must have been a waif. I’m 5″2, it was ENTIRELY possible). As in big bust, tiny waist, big wide pelvis. In shops and magazines, ‘curvy’ is shorthand for ‘size 16+’. This language is not only tricky for me selecting clothing, but it’s hard to argue with because people get upset about weight etc’. But the point is: you can be a size 16 beanpole: small bust, not-so-narrow-waist, long lean legs. The ‘curve’ shorthand is a flattery which upsets both smaller women (who think it means they are ‘fat’- not only because of seeing thin models, but, from experience, because all the clothes that suit one are marketed to bigger ladies) and larger non-curvy women (I remember a friend sobbing over being ‘fat but not curvy’ as if she’d let big-and-beautiful down and was a failure). Gok Wan, obsessed as he is with ‘bangers’ (he he), goes some way to redress this idea by focussing on shape not size… but most of the media doesn’t. (And don’t get me started on ‘petite’ in magazines…apparently anyone under 5″3 doesn’t have a bust)…

      OK, OK. I’ll stop ranting now. Sorry. Too ’emotional’ LOL!

    • Wendy
      January 26, 2011

      A major annoyance with his comments was that this was somehow limited to just women. As a sports nut (doing, not watching) my husband has large legs but is naturally very slim. Trying to get him a pair of trousers or jeans is always a major event and it gets him down. He has to resort to something 4-6 inches too big on his waist simply because the high street caters for a different body shape with very little variation. He will be on a high if he gets something that fits, and moody if we return empty handed.

      I have always been curvy – at a size 6 and at a size 18. I know my shape and have known it since my teens. I also know I have a long body and short legs. I know my bust is out of proportion with the rest of me and I know I am short. Unfortunately I have no idea what size I am in one shop to the next, so I have resorted to not bothering.

    • Steph (@mrs_sock)
      January 26, 2011

      I really wish you’d had time to express this on the radio!

      Bravissimo have made clothes shopping enjoyable for me again, I am *blessed* with a size 34JJ chest (which now is beyond measurement with pregnancy hormones), this means dresses mostly fit my chest and are loose on the rest of me – not flattering – or fit me and my boobs look like a squashed pillow/ porn star.
      I am however a perfect 14 super curvy in bravissimo which means I looked fab at my friends wedding! And they just brought out a 50s dress – it will be mine!

    • Emma at Daily Clothes Fix
      January 26, 2011

      I totally agree with everything you have posted here. I find it frustrating not to be able to know what size I will be (not because I am a fragile flower but because I am busy and can’t be bothered to try on 3 sizes). I also try on lots of stuff in shops and I can’t manage to take in 3 of everything, which means swapping stuff in and out, etc etc. It’s a pain.

      As for your comment about trying to find places that size stuff based on how curvy you are, have you tried Bravissimo? I really like their stuff and their sizing is done totally differently but is quite consistent once you work out what size you are in there (based on size and how curvy you are).

    • kerry
      January 26, 2011

      Thanks so much for the shout out on your page & twitter. So sweet of you.

      This post is fabulous, I thought you handled it really well. It’s not just women. I think that was a very easy card to try and play.

    • Penny Dreadful Vintage
      January 27, 2011

      That comment made me emotionally want to whack him in the chops. What a rude, sexist thing to say. We are emotional because there is no consistency or guiding in sizes? What a massive, sexist moron.

      Anyway. Yes I have this problem. I’m most often a 10-12, but sometimes a size 8 to 14. If measurements were included in a tag inside, things would be so much easier. That isn’t vanity, or emotion. It is just common sense.

    • Roisin
      January 27, 2011

      Well done for bringing this up so eloquently! It’s good to know your own measurements – something I have learned since learning how to sew – and it is so frustrating when even this doesn’t help you in clothes shops because their size charts are wrong! Differences within the same size in the same garment is something that is depressingly common, because of the way that they are mass produced. There is no accuracy in the cutting of the fabric so the cut of the piece at the bottom of the pile is radically different to the piece at the top, even if they are both labelled a size 12. So maybe becoming frustrated does make me an ’emotional’ shopper but you’re quite right, Retro Chick, shopping IS an emotional experience. Vanity sizing and inconsistencies in sizing is creating a real problem for every woman who tries to buy clothes. Retailers are being wilfully blind if they can’t see how this ridiculous slapdash attitude affects the body image of women in this country.

      I don’t buy from off the high street all that much any more, and this is one of the reasons. Also, the quality of the garments is just depressing. I know my body is fine, and I don’t need some cheap mass produced piece of shite in Topshop telling me that I’m too fat! I understand there might be an argument that Topshop make clothes for younger women whose bodies are different shapes to those of women shopping in Wallis, or whatever, but surely that just means that what is needed is for this number system to be discarded in favour of an accurate measurement of hips, waist, bust, shoulders even!

      Shame on R4 for allowing someone in this day in age to end an argument by writing women off as ’emotional’ – we’ve travelled a depressingly short distance from Victorian times when this kind of comment is tolerated and accepted.

    • Gem
      January 27, 2011

      I hasten to add… I bet if this Ed has a ladyfriend (from his commments I reserve judgement) he’d want her to look good… not walk about looking like she’s had a seizure in a dressing up box in mis matched sizes which induce muffin tops and smock syndrome.

    • Nikki
      February 24, 2011

      This is a really great post. I listened to the clip from R4 and I sat there wondering whether he was involved in the same conversation!

      For me, I don’t really care what size is inside my clothes as long as they fit, but I would love it if that size was consistant across all shops! I have THREE different sizes in my wardrobe. That is nothing to do with my emotions!

      I felt his comments were patronising, and not even related to the matter in hand. My boyfriend has exactly the same issues as me (i.e being a different size in each shop he goes to) should I tell him to stop being so emotional?