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9 in 10 women ‘annoyed’ by high street sizes

Which? reveals confusion over clothes sizing

Measuring clothes sizes

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.

Explaining differences

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.

Size 8
Brand Bust Waist Hips
New Look 84cm 68cm 90cm
Next 84cm 65.5cm 87.5cm
Dorothy Perkins 84.25cm 65cm 88.5cm
M&S 82cm 65cm 90cm
Topshop 82cm 64.9cm 86.5cm
Wallis 83cm 64.5cm 90cm
Per Una 82cm 64cm 90cm
Miss Selfridge 82cm 64cm 86.5cm


Size 10
Brand Bust Waist Hips
New Look 88cm 70cm 94cm
Topshop 87cm 69.2cm 91.5cm
Dorothy Perkins 88cm 69cm 92.5cm
Miss Selfridge 87cm 69cm 91.5cm
M&S 86cm 69cm 94cm
Wallis 87cm 68.5cm 94cm
Next 86.5cm 68.5cm 91.5cm
Per Una 86cm 68cm 94cm


Size 12
Brand Bust Waist Hips
New Look 93cm 75cm 99cm
Topshop 92cm 74.2cm 96.5cm
Miss Selfridge 92cm 74cm 96.5cm
M&S 91cm 74cm 99cm
Dorothy Perkins 92cm 73cm 96.5cm
Wallis 91cm 72.5cm 98cm
Per Una 90cm 72cm 98cm
Next 90cm 71 95.5cm


Size 14
Brand Bust Waist Hips
New Look 98cm 80cm 104cm
Topshop 97cm 79.2cm 101.5cm
Miss Selfridge 97cm 79cm 101.5cm
M&S 96cm 79cm 104cm
Wallis 97cm 78.5cm 104cm
Dorothy Perkins 97cm 78cm 101.5cm
Per Una 94cm 76cm 102cm
Next 94cm 76cm 100.5cm


Size 16
Brand Bust Waist Hips
New Look 104cm 87cm 110cm
Wallis 103cm 84.5cm 110cm
Topshop 102cm 84.2cm 106.5cm
Miss Selfridge 102cm 84cm 106.5cm
M&S 101cm 84cm 109cm
Dorothy Perkins 102cm 83cm 106cm
Per Una 99cm 81cm 107cm
Next 99cm 81cm 105.5cm


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