Clothes sizes

sizesOver Easter, I spent a week in England, and probably one of the most useful pieces of knowledge I brought back with me is what sizes I wear in the UK. No, seriously. I like to order clothes online now and then, and sizes (which are different in what feels like every single European country) are a huge stumbling block. It’s comparatively easy, though by no means fool-proof, if the clothes go by S, M, L etc. I usually wear a Small in tops and jackets, and a Small or Medium in most skirts, dresses and coats (I would never dare order a pair of trousers online.) Once we get to size 8, 10, 12 etc. I used to be stuck. Some shops offer a list of comparative sizes in the different European systems, or tell you to measure yourself to find out what UK size you are. I’d done that, but as the measurements differ between the sites, I still felt unsure.

So now in England, I went to a number of shops. It was quite heavenly! Fashion, internation as it is, has its own individual nuances in each country, and it’s always great fun to try on some style I’d never find at home. Then there were such delightful stores in Cambridge, where I enjoyed my big shopping spree. I bought a lovely summer dress and top, and a spring dress in the sales. In London I added a skirt to my finds. And I now know that I wear a UK size 10 in tops and blouses, a 10 or 12 in dresses (depending on the design), and a 12 in skirts. Hooray! (That’s US 6 and 8 respectively)

In London, something funny happened. I tried on a pencil skirt (a cut I don’t usually wear, on account of my rather full hips) in size 10 and couldn’t close the zip. Remembering it had not been available in 12 when I looked for it earlier, and wishful of at least seeing what it’d look like, I asked the shop assistant to get me the skirt in size 14. (It didn’t fit either, but at least I could close the zip and get an impression. I like pencil skirts, I do. It’s just that they don’t like me. Sigh.) Then I asked that same assistant to find some tops to try on with the other skirt (A-line) I had decided to buy. She came back and brought this huge heap of T-shirts and blouses – all in L! I tried on one or two, but looked as if I was trying to wear a tent. I am still amazed she could be so mistaken. She may not have realised that I need bigger clothes below the navel than above it, or she may have been judging me by her own figure – she was a rather fully-figured lady. No matter, I had a plane to catch and did not ask for smaller tops, so this lost her a potential sale. But I’ll still return to that store when I’m in London again – their clothes are just charming.

How do you solve the problems of size when you order online? Have you had similar experiences with shop assistants misjudging your size?

– Rike Horstmann

4 thoughts on “Clothes sizes

  1. Blythe

    Well, as a qualified industry professional ;), I find that I am more likely to guess right on sizes than the customers I am helping. Granted, I work in a store with maternity clothes, so many of my customers think they are a lot bigger than they really are. I’m often telling them to try jeans on two sizes down from what they went in thinking they’d need.

    I actually order online fairly often too – yes, even pants and jeans. Usually I order from companies I am familiar with, and I’ve been known to try on sizes in an actual brick and mortar store and then order online (Piperlime sells designer jeans, which I can sometimes get at a discount. So I’ll try them on in Macy’s or Nordstrom and then order online). The worst that can happen is that you have to return it, which isn’t the end of the world. I’m crossing my fingers on a pair of yoga capris I bought last week. I was on the fence between small and extra small. Customer reviews seemed to indicate I should go with the bigger size – so I did. Which brings up another point: You can read customer reviews!

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  2. Rike

    Yes, customer reviews are actually very helpful, and when there are any I read them carefully. Ordering online from German shops is easy, as is returning anything that doesn’t quite fit. But sometimes I like to buy clothes from British online stores, and then the return shipping can be very expensive.

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  3. Rosario

    I order from ebay quite a lot, so since I only spend about £5 on the average item, if any don’t fit me well, I’m not fussed and I’ll just take them to the charity shop. I tend to order stuff from brands I know, though, so I can be pretty sure that say, size 8 items from Zara, H&M and John Rocha will fit me fine, while with Jane Norman, I might have to order a 10 if it’s something that will go over my hips!

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