Size ten could disappear from the clothes railsLabels would show body measurements instead

06 July 2007

Women's clothes sizes seen in high-street shops today could be replaced with bust, waist, hip and height measurements under new European guidelines.

The removal of traditional labels for sizes such as 10, 12 and 14 would bring women's clothes in line with men’s sizing.

Frank Moore, who chairs the team at the European Committee for Standardisation that has proposed the new measurements, said: ‘It could be the end of the size ten. It will take some time but will mean better sizing for consumers. The sizing will happen on the continent first and then UK consumers will get used to it after seeing it there.’

Vanity sizing

Women have long complained about the difference in clothes sizes, which means you slip into size 12 trousers in one shop but squeeze into a size 14 in another. Retailers admit their clothing ranges are designed to fit their type of customers rather than standard measurements.

And while many publish their measurements online, research has highlighted vanity sizing, where clothes are bigger than claimed on labels to flatter customers.

But some say variety is necessary. Andrew Crawford, from Size UK, which carried out a national sizing survey in 2002 – the first since the 1950s – said: ‘It’s beneficial that there’s no agreement between shops over sizes. It means consumers can find a shop selling clothes that fit them.'

 

Stores' measure on the size 14
Mannequin Shop Dimensions (in/cm)
A tailor's mannequin Bust
Dorothy Perkins 38.2cm/97in
Marks & Spencer 36.6cm/93in
Next 37cm/94in
Tesco 37.8cm/96in
Waist
Dorothy Perkins 30.7cm/78in
Marks & Spencer 29.9cm/76in
Next 30cm/76in
Tesco 30.3cm/77in
Hips
Dorothy Perkins 40cm/101.5in
Marks & Spencer 39.4cm/100in
Next 39.5cm/100.5in
Tesco 40.6cm/103in

Our chart shows that a women’s bust size 14, for example, can vary between shops by more than an inch.

Marks & Spencer told us it updates its sizes every ten years after conducting extensive research, including using real women. A spokeswoman said: ‘Fit rather than size is really important. We offer a breadth of choice, for example trousers come in three different leg lengths.’

New Look said it doesn’t make its sizing information public said its range comes in sizes 8 to 28 so ‘customers should find something to fit’.