Size differences across high street shops are annoying, confusing and wasting women’s time, according to research from Which?
In our public survey, 91% of women said they take different sizes into the changing room because they don’t know which will fit – with one in five doing this every time they try something on.
As a result, over half feel they waste too much time in the changing room testing sizes. And with a 4cm difference in the waists of Next and New Look’s ‘size 12’ models, the confusion is justifiable.
Measuring up the high street
We looked at the size guides of 8 popular high street clothes brands – and found unexpected differences (scroll down for full size guides). Shops targeting girls as young as 15 – such as Topshop, New Look and Miss Selfridge – tend to cut their clothes to fit a bigger chest than retailers aiming for older customers, such as Marks & Spencer.
Find out how these retailers compare with 44 other big names for price, quality, range and service in the Which? review of the best and worst clothes and shoe shops – part of the UK’s biggest survey of high street shops.
Most high street names in women’s clothes – with the exception of a few, such as Primark – use the results of a National Sizing Survey (SizeUK) to analyse the average shape of their core customers, then cut their clothes to fit.
Andrew Crawford, Director of SizeUK, said: ‘SizeUK enables retailers to understand the distribution and overall size and shape profile of their target customers, to improve the sizing and fit of their garments and maximise the percentage of their target customers that can fit their clothes.’
‘Confusing’ and ‘annoying’
While clothes shops are trying to get the best fit for the greatest number, our research reveals that women are left confused by the differences that result. 9 in 10 women are annoyed that sizes vary between shops and 82% think retailers should be clearer about the measurements they use.
Which? shopping expert Sarah Dennis said: ‘Women are clearly annoyed by size differences. It’s unrealistic for shops to conform to a universal size, but they could be more upfront about their own sizing to give consumers less hassle in the fitting room.
‘In the meantime, you’ll save time and energy by knowing your size and being aware of the measurements used by different clothes shops.’
High street size guides
Below are the 8-16 size guides advertised by 8 popular women’s clothes brands. Use these to help you find the right size when you shop for clothes on the high street. The individual retailers may recommend different ways to measure your body, so it’s still worth looking at their sites for guidance.
What do you think about clothes sizes on the high street? Join the debate at Which? Conversation.