Someone on Twitter bought it to my attention back at the end of January I think, but I’m only just getting around to telling you about it now. I do apologise!
The website it called “What Size Am I” and in theory allows you to enter your bust, waist and hip measurements and find out what stores clothes will fit you best, and in what size.
According to the chart I should be shopping in Zara for a size 12. Unfortunately I don’t think we have a Zara here, so I’ll have to test that out next time I’m near one!
Anna Powell-Smith, who is behind the site, has written an interesting blog about what she found whilst gathering the data for the site. Broadly she found that some stores spread their sizes widely across the whole spectrum of sizes (unsurprisingly stores like M&S and Next are among them) while others cluster their sizes around the smaller end of the scale (helloooo Topshop and Reiss!).
She also found something I’ve talked about before, and which is the whole point of the Campaign for Clearer Clothes Sizing, that different stores target different body shapes. L K Bennett, for instance, targets the hourglass figure, while in Topshop you wouldn’t get your hips in one of their frocks as they target a more rectangular shape.
According to Powell-Smith
Broadly and unscientifically speaking, M&S, Karen Millen and French Connection look the most pear-shaped to me: Banana Republic and Warehouse look best for the top-heavy: LK Bennett and Zara are cut for a fitted waist, while Oasis and TopShop appear least curvy overall.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find out that information while you were stood looking at a dress in a shop, rather that ending up sobbing uncontrollably in a changing room as you struggle to pull yet another dress over your hips or do up a button over your bust?
This website is a really great start, until we can get stores to publish measurements on their labels. It’s great to be able to check which sizes should fit you before you shop, and you can even print out the chart of your sizes in all brands to take out with you.
The problem with this chart, however, is that it’s based on the published fit data from the stores concerned, not actual garment measurements. Many stores seem to randomly pick their size charts out of thin air. According to the “What Size Am I” site I should buy a size 12 or 14 in Next, yet as I’ve mentioned before I own size 10s from Next. Butterflies and Daisy’s Vintage had a similar problem with a Banana Republic dress from their Mad Men range which had a waist measurement a full 3″ larger than that stated on their size chart.
Really, we all have much better things in our life to worry about than whether shops are being sneaky with their sizing, which is part of the reason I think it’s so important. All that time we spend returning multiple sizes we’ve bought online, or trying on clothes in several different shops just to buy a pair of trousers, it’s all wasted time. Time that we could be spending finding a cure for Cancer or watching Poirot.
The response I recieved from my MP last year was followed by a further reply from ED Davey in the department of Business, Innovation and Skills (I didn’t know there was one of those, but now I do!). In his reply the Minister mentions the new EU regulation on textile fibre names and related labelling. This regulation has placed an obligation on the European Commission to produce a report on potential new labelling regulation which is due in 2013.
That means this is the perfect time to write to your MP and MEP and make your feelings known. The campaign isn’t about standard sizing, which would lead to a lack of variety, it’s about each brand letting us know what the sizes on their labels actually mean. We’ve even made it easy for you with a nice cut and paste letter you can email to your MP and MEP using the Write to Them website.
I also have a nice badge you can put in your sidebar, and I’m collecting blog posts written on the subject into a list on the original Campaign for Clearer Clothes Sizing post, so let me know if you’ve written one!
You can just copy and paste the HTML code for the badge from here and pop it in your sidebar.