Clothes size is a nonsense. You know it, I know it and a computer programmer called Anna Powell-Smith decided to do something about it. She came up with a system for determining what size you will be in any given shop, all you have to do is input three measurements: hips, bust and waist. Already I could see a problem with that. There is SO MUCH MORE to me than my hips bust and waist. I have shoulders and a bum and very specific length of torso which all contribute to the never-being-able-to-rely-on-a-dress-size thing that I am not alone in.
It’s not just that shops take liberties with sizing (I say ‘take liberties’, I mean ‘make it up’) but also that bodies are far more complicated than size alone; you can be the same height and weight as someone but be a very different body shape. Some shops do tend to cut clothes in a certain way, a way which might suit your unique body shape. On her website Anna does suggest which shop is likely to be the best fit within the broad spectrum that is a particular size. Put in your measurements and you could find out that Topshop size 14 is your closest fit, probably.
The word ‘probably’ is important here because there are numerous variations in styles of garment even from one shop. To sum up, I’ve made a fun diagram to show what we’re dealing with.
I wasn’t convinced this was going to work when trying to make a judgement about any one particular item of clothing. If I saw a top online for example, I don’t think the Anna’s website would necessarily steer me in the right size direction because of the implications of variation in style. It turns out though that even on a broader scale this website didn’t give me the size results I expected it to. It suggested that in general tops should be a larger size for me than trousers but that is not the case. My own personal experience gained through years of trial and error has told me that no matter what weight I am, my top will always be smaller than my bottom. If the measurement for my actual bottom had been taken into account, the chart would see why.
Before I had even got the results my idea to test this thing out was to try on some clothes from a shop that I’ve never been to before using Anna’s guide to tell me which size I should pick up. In spite of all the logic laid out above, I carried out the experiment anyway.
For some reason I’ve been seeing items of clothing from Reiss a lot recently. Perhaps I’m getting older and reading publications that pander to a different age group or hopefully Reiss are aiming at a younger audience and placing adverts in publications that cool and trendy people read. Either way, I suppose I shouldn’t worry until I start reading publications that don’t have dresses in them at all for that will be a sure sign that I have become a real grown up and dispensed with all this dressing-up nonsense. ANYWAY, I digress… My point was that I’ve never even been into a Reiss let alone tried any thing so I don’t know what size I am. Armed with the info from Anna’s website I went in and picked up some clothes. From looking at them on the hanger I wasn’t at all convinced that the numbers the computer suggested where going to add up to something I was going to fit into.
To save you having to read all about the 2 tops, 3 skirts and 1 dress that I tried on, let me sum up by saying that for me, in this shop at least, the website’s data didn’t work. It was all either too small or too big. In the case of one (hideous) dress that I tried on, I found it to be simultaneously too small and too big and OHFORGOODNESSSAKE what is it with the zips?! The skirt part of the dress was so tight that the zip lay flat (hurrah!) but the top was so baggy that I ended up with a weird bit sticking out (boo!) again. In fact, I take that ‘hurrah’ back right now. There should be no ‘hurrah’s for a world in which one has to buy an impossibly tight skirt just to have a zip that sits properly around your derriere.
The website might work better for you, far be it from me to deny anyone else the key to well fitting clothes and in case this is your key please click here: what size am I?