Sunday, 18 March 2012

Sizing: A Mini-rant

An annoyance. Yet again, it's about clothes sizing.
The other day I decided to take the plunge and get rid of a Primark dress I've had for a while but not worn much. It cost me £2 and is a sort of cotton shirtdress, blue with white polkadots. In theory something I'd like to wear. In practice too short, too small in the bust. No problem, it cost £2 and fits my flatmate fine.
On Friday I thought as part of my experiments in treating myself I'd go into town and buy the blue & white polkadot shirtdress I'd seen at H&M. I've got plenty of dresses from there and this seems like a winner, longer than the Primark one and hopefully in a better size. So I went in and tried it on. No good. A size 16 (top end of what I'd consider "my size range") was too tight around the bust and snug on the waist. So, find a bigger size? Nope. This is "Divided", the sort of younger persons' section, they don't go beyond a 16 (in fact it's rare to find bigger than 14). So... no dress for me.
Not too big a deal? Well actually I was quite pissed off. I know I'm a bit squidgey around the edges and have a bit of a bum on me, but I'm not *that* big. I'm average height with a modest 36D bust, and at age 21 well within the target market for this range. I'd say I'm probably average-sized, so it really grates that a big high street chain don't make clothes that fit me.
H&M are generally pretty cheap and cheerful and obviously have a lot of different suppliers (the discrepancy in sizing is a pretty good indicator) and I'm prepared to always have to try things on in there, but when they just do not make something big enough it's another matter altogether. Imagine how many sales they lose because an item simply doesn't come big enough. Imagine how many perfectly normal-sized women with less robust self-esteem than me can't face H&M again because they've effectively been told "you're too big to shop here". Ugh.
I had a similar experience a while ago, which I think I blogged about, with an Apricot dress. I tried on an L but found it a bit snug, could see only XS, S, M & L in the shop and decided to look online, whereupon I found that XL simply didn't exist, despite there being an XS at the other end of the scale. The feeling of irritation at the size not being available was turned into one of dismay and almost rejection by the size not existing. Ouch.

I'm obviously still bitter about my dress, otherwise this post wouldn't exist, but I did buy a rather nice cardigan while I was there.

Same spots, different item, the 14 fitted fine. (lucky since it wasn't in stock in a 16)
I thought availability of sizes was meant to be a pro of shopping on the high street vs. in charity and vintage shops? Let's just say I'm not in much of a hurry to go back to Broadmead.


  1. Ah, you missed that article in the news the other day then? There was a whole piece on the BBC about women's sizes and how they don't match up from shop to shop. I have to say I stopped shopping in H&M a long time ago, ok I'm a bit older and bigger than you but I still consider myself to be a bit funky but their stuff is pants. They're so cheap when it comes to seam allowances and sizes it's just not funny. I don't even look in the window any more.

    My best advice to you is, if you can't make it save for it. Save your pennies for the best thing that you can afford or try and get it on Ebay, you'd be surprised how many people buy things and never ever wear them and sell them with their original price tags on! I've got a couple of really lovely things from Coast which were dirt cheap and had never been worn with the tags on. Otherwise, look on Etsy, there is a wealth of clothing on there that is beautiful and cheap, it's just not a high street label.

    Don't you let H&M or any other shop that cuts corners when it comes to sizing get you down! You're a beautiful young lady!

  2. Ugh, I can be anything from a 10 to a 16, depending on the shop and the cut. According to website measurements, I'm generally a 12; according to the sizes on sewing patterns, I'm a 16. It's one of the things I like about vintage (and sewing my own) - if I know MY measurements, I don't have to think about how I compare to a chart of "normal" builds.

  3. Thankyou both! :) I was worried I was getting a bit too het up about this. I used to be far more self-conscious about how I look when I was younger but it's dropped away with time rather, which is very nice to realise. I even own bikinis now!
    I need to hold myself to buying the nicer things and not get tempted into buying stuff I don't love in sales, I am guilty of owning the odd £1 Primark reduction. White Stuff seems like a good place to look (and their sizing is alright!). I got a lovely navy cord skirt from there for £5 in a charity shop and have been lurking on eBay looking for more since.
    Hopefully once I have a job and a life and such(and therefore time which isn't supposed to be coursework time) I'll be able to do some proper sewing (Sorbetto first I think) and then I can have lovely well-fitted clothes.


Yay :)