Very few of us ladies can truthfully say we aren’t pleased when we fit comfortably into a smaller size than usual. But that doesn’t mean we want to be sold inconsistent clothes sizes.
Call it naïve, blind or just plain stupid, but nothing brightens up an afternoon’s shopping more than the notion of being slightly slimmer than we thought we were.
At least, that’s what I assumed. The fashion industry does too – and has its own name for deliberately putting a smaller size on bigger garments – vanity sizing.
Customers want consistency
But latest research shows that, far from being flattered by fashion-fiddling, customers are actually frustrated at the lack of consistency between sizes.
This definitely rings true with me. I’ve long been taking two or three sizes of the same garment into the changing room with no idea which will fit best. Yes, it’s great when the smallest fits perfectly, but I’d rather know I’m always one size and stick to it.
Which is exactly what most women want, says Mintel’s ‘Size Matters’ report. More than four in ten said they were unhappy about the differences that exist from store to store. Roughly the same amount only shop in a small number of stores where they know the sizes that suit their shape.
Flattery will get retailers nowhere
So this vanity sizing is doing the exact opposite of what retailers hope for. Rather than flattering customers into buying clothes, it’s driving them back to the few stores they know they can trust.
But would we be happier if all shops stocked standard sizes to suit one universal shape? While it’s annoying to take an armful of sizes into the changing room, some argue that this haphazard approach is actually a good thing.
When we researched this in 2007 we spoke to Andrew Crawford from Size UK, which carried out a national sizing survey in 2002. ‘It’s beneficial that there’s no agreement over sizes,’ he said. ‘It means consumers can find a shop selling clothes that fit them.’
Europe needs to shape up too
But it’s not just a UK problem. At the moment, a woman with a bust of about 88cm, a waist of 72cm and hips of 96cm, takes a dress size:
- 12 in the UK
- 40 in Belgium and France
- 38 in Germany and the Netherlands
- 44/46 in Portugal and Spain
- 10 in the USA
To my mind, all this could be cleared up by using measurements on women’s clothes – in the same way they’re used on men’s. Then there’d be no room for inconsistency, flattery or deception. We’d all just know our shape and size – and be forced to stick to it.
Do you think clothes should have standard sizes?
Yes, it would make shopping much easier (91%, 88 Votes)
No, I'm happy with sizes as they are (5%, 5 Votes)
Neither, I already know which shops' clothes suit my size (4%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 97