At last! What size you really are in each clothes shop (… but it's online rather than in store)

One size fits all Fitting rooms can be a nightmare when you don't know what size you are

One size fits all Fitting rooms can be a nightmare when you don't know what size you are

You've lugged armfuls of dresses to the changing room, only to find the size that suited you in the last shop no longer makes it over your hips.

It may be known as ‘vanity sizing’, but the High Street trick of understating clothes sizes to make shoppers feel slimmer leaves most of us frustrated rather than flattered.

However, help is at hand – after one shopper became so fed up with confusion in the fitting room that she devised a website which tells women what size will fit them in each store.

Computer programmer Anna Powell-Smith created the What Size Am I website after reading an article which criticised shops for their misleading labelling.

The program asks women to enter their bust, waist and hip measurements, then calculates what dress size they should go for at a range of High Street retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Next and Zara.

And it also suggests which shops are most likely to have something suitable, so shoppers can avoid hunting for a dress in Whistles if Warehouse is going to offer a better fit.

Miss Powell-Smith has adapted the website for smart phones, so women can use the calculator while on the move.

Perhaps surprisingly, when she
analysed the measurements it was not necessarily the most expensive or
most fashionable stores which offered the slimmest fits.

found that Next has the smallest sizes on the High Street, while a size
ten in Whistles, Zara or Reiss is actually bigger than a ten in ASOS,
Monsoon or M&S.

A typical size 12 in Reiss, for example, is around two inches bigger on the bust, waist and hips than at Next.

with a 28in waist buying clothes at Jaeger would need to opt for a size
ten, but would need to purchase a size 12 at Next, whereas those buying
a size 16 in Dorothy Perkins are around three inches smaller around the
hips than those opting for the same size in Jaeger


Miss Powell-Smith said: ‘As everyone who’s ever bought clothes knows, High Street sizing is completely mad.

‘You can easily be a size eight in one store, and a size 14 in another, and it’s impossible to guess your size without lots of zip-wrangling.

‘In the UK, a size 16 at Jaeger has a bust of 42.3in, waist of 34.6in and hips of 44.9in. A size 16 at Banana Republic has a bust of 38.5in, waist of 30.3in and hips of 40.5in.

‘That’s a four-inch difference, and it’s not unusual.’

The data also revealed that M&S and Karen Millen offer clothing for a more pear-shaped customer, while TopShop and Oasis cater to less curvy, more boyish figures.

Miss Powell-Smith, whose website can be found at, added: ‘I was interested to see different body shapes flattered by different stores.

'Broadly, Banana Republic and Warehouse are best for the top-heavy, and LK Bennett and Zara are cut for a fitted waist.’

Vanity sizing has been common on the High Street for at least the past seven years. In 2005, Jane Shepherdson, then fashion director at TopShop, said it was necessary to reflect changing body types.

She said: ‘It is well documented that women have got larger over the last few years.


What size am I

Online calculator What Size Am I will generate your correct size in different stories using your measurements

‘Women don’t have small waists any
more, they have bigger busts, we are fed more, we eat more nowadays, so
we have to react to that.’
It is certainly true that British women have changed shape remarkably in 50 years.

The National Sizing Survey found the average waist measurement has gone up from 27.5in to 34in in the past five decades.

Hips are typically 1.5in wider at 40.5in and the bust has increased by the same amount to 38.5in.

BSI introduced standardised clothing sizes in 1982, which allow leeway
of up to an inch and a half, but shops are not compelled to follow these

Five years
ago, an EU committee was set up to look into the possibility of forcing
retailers to use standard measurements by law, but so far no plans have
been announced.

Visit What Size am I for more information


What size are you Some examples of discrepancies on the High Street