Vanity Sizing – What Shops Fit You Best.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This website has been doing the rounds for a while now.

Someone on Twitter bought it to my attention back at the end of January I think, but I’m only just getting around to telling you about it now. I do apologise!

The website it called “What Size Am I” and in theory allows you to enter your bust, waist and hip measurements and find out what stores clothes will fit you best, and in what size.

According to the chart I should be shopping in Zara for a size 12. Unfortunately I don’t think we have a Zara here, so I’ll have to test that out next time I’m near one!

Anna Powell-Smith, who is behind the site, has written an interesting blog about what she found whilst gathering the data for the site. Broadly she found that some stores spread their sizes widely across the whole spectrum of sizes (unsurprisingly stores like M&S and Next are among them) while others cluster their sizes around the smaller end of the scale (helloooo Topshop and Reiss!).

She also found something I’ve talked about before, and which is the whole point of the Campaign for Clearer Clothes Sizing, that different stores target different body shapes. L K Bennett, for instance, targets the hourglass figure, while in Topshop you wouldn’t get your hips in one of their frocks as they target a more rectangular shape.

According to Powell-Smith

Broadly and unscientifically speaking, M&S, Karen Millen and French Connection look the most pear-shaped to me: Banana Republic and Warehouse look best for the top-heavy: LK Bennett and Zara are cut for a fitted waist, while Oasis and TopShop appear least curvy overall.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find out that information while you were stood looking at a dress in a shop, rather that ending up sobbing uncontrollably in a changing room as you struggle to pull yet another dress over your hips or do up a button over your bust?

This website is a really great start, until we can get stores to publish measurements on their labels. It’s great to be able to check which sizes should fit you before you shop, and you can even print out the chart of your sizes in all brands to take out with you.

The problem with this chart, however, is that it’s based on the published fit data from the stores concerned, not actual garment measurements. Many stores seem to randomly pick their size charts out of thin air. According to the “What Size Am I” site I should buy a size 12 or 14 in Next,  yet as I’ve mentioned before I own size 10s from Next. Butterflies and Daisy’s Vintage had a similar problem with a Banana Republic dress from their Mad Men range which had a waist measurement a full 3″ larger than that stated on their size chart.

Really, we all have much better things in our life to worry about than whether shops are being sneaky with their sizing, which is part of the reason I think it’s so important. All that time we spend returning multiple sizes we’ve bought online, or trying on clothes in several different shops just to buy a pair of trousers, it’s all wasted time. Time that we could be spending finding a cure for Cancer or watching Poirot.

The response I recieved from my MP last year was followed by a further reply from ED Davey in the department of Business, Innovation and Skills (I didn’t know there was one of those, but now I do!). In his reply the Minister mentions the new EU regulation on textile fibre names and related labelling. This regulation has placed an obligation on the European Commission to produce a report on potential new labelling regulation which is due in 2013.

That means this is the perfect time to write to your MP and MEP and make your feelings known. The campaign isn’t about standard sizing, which would lead to a lack of variety, it’s about each brand letting us know what the sizes on their labels actually mean. We’ve even made it easy for you with a nice cut and paste letter you can email to your MP and MEP using the Write to Them website.

I also have a nice badge you can put in your sidebar, and I’m collecting blog posts written on the subject into a list on the original Campaign for Clearer Clothes Sizing post, so let me know if you’ve written one!

You can just copy and paste the HTML code for the badge from here and pop it in your sidebar.

6 Responses
  • Straight Talking Mama
    February 29, 2012

    So interesting. I rarely buy on the high street choosing to either wear vintage or make my own but when I had shopped on the high street for ‘work clothes’ many years ago it was a real nightmare. This is a handy guide. I’m a combination of top heavy and hour glass, hips are usually less than bust but not that much, if I do feel the need to visit the high street ever again (!) I’ll be sure to look at this again!

  • Perdita
    February 29, 2012

    I was really geeky when i first found this site and cross referenced it with my wardrobe. What I found was that it only seemed accurate for most clothes- by all means not all from these shops (indeed Zara I find terrible for fitted waists at times). I guess you have to account for taste and type of garment too, but the data (I guess) could get out of date swiftly depending on the nuances of the shop’s head office and/or contracted suppliers.

    Sigh. If only finding things were ever easy. I guess I need more shopping practice…(hears bank manager fall down in dead faint)…

  • Stephanie
    February 29, 2012

    What an inspired idea for a website! Too bad stores generally aren’t even consistent with themselves. Over Christmas I bought a pair of pants that were sized by waist measurements (like men’s pants) rather than by random numbers (like women’s pants). Lo and behold, my size 32 (inch) which I picked up for my 31 1/2 waist had an actual waist measurement of 39. Never have I had pants fit so well in the hip/thigh and so crappy in the waist! So I took them apart and put them back together with a smaller waist. 🙂

  • Faith
    February 29, 2012

    Sizing is always surreal. According to this, I should be taking a size 18 top. That said, I am rather oddly shaped in that my measurement around my chest is 43″ but I have a small underbust so I usually wear clothes designed for a bust of about 38-40″ (most of my vintage clothes are 40-42″ bust). And if it’s anything with any stretch whatsoever, I go even smaller. I don’t see the attraction in wearing something baggy that just skims by boobs and is about eight inches too big on the waist.

    That said, I have ginormous hips and trying to find anything to squeeze those mothers in is a major issue for me. Which is why 40s a-line skirts are made for me. I have a 32″ waist and 47″ hips. It’s a nuisance. I look like someone is squeezing me.

  • MissMagpie
    February 29, 2012

    Hmm, according to that chart I’m a size 14 pretty much everywhere which is most definitely not the case! The top recommendation is a Topshop size 14 I know for a fact that won’t go near me! neither does an Oasis 14, I’m a size 16 in both stores and lucky if that fits sometimes too. I have found the only way round the high street sizing is to bite the bullet and try on

  • Jenna
    February 29, 2012

    Thanks for sharing! This website sounds pretty amazing. It can be so difficult to find something that fits well.