UK clothes stores, we need to talk about women’s clothes sizes


Before I was pregnant, I was a size 10. I lived in skinny jeans and leggings and could pretty much eat whatever I wanted. It didn’t matter where I bought my clothes as I could generally buy the same size in each shop, except Primark, for some reason unless you had a reasonably good sized arse, mine just looked like a pancake in their skinny jeans. My bra size was 34DD and I could get away with a size 10, but sometimes a size 12 was more comfortable depending on the style. Roll forward to now, May, 5 months after Emily was born and I’m definitely not a size 10 or 12. I put on 3 stone when I was pregnant and my bra size went up to a 36E. I gained a boob job in those 9 months and now, with my tummy decreased a little in size, I don’t know what my dress size is but my bra size is 40D. I have a bra on that could probably carry a watermelon in each cup. That’s madness. I’m now giganto-boob.

Since January 2016 

  • Bra sizes: was 34DD, 36E (pregnancy), 38E (breastfeeding), and now 40D (formula feeding)
  • Clothes size: was 10-12 and now 14
  • Shoe size: was a size 6 & 1/2, now a size 7

My body has changed throughout the past year and a half and whilst I live now in leggings almost permanently, I would like the option of mixing up what I can wear as a new mum. Throughout my pregnancy, I refused to buy maternity wear, I just bought a lot of stretchy clothes. I already lived in leggings, it wasn’t going to make much difference adding more leggings to the mix. But throughout the year I only wore 12-14 leggings, which didn’t bother me, but now, weighing 6lbs less than I did when I was pregnant in my final week, I seem to have gone up a size, even though I don’t have time to eat all my meals around Emily. According to Primark, I fit a 14-16. It’s almost hard to believe that I’ve lost any weight knowing that I’ve gone up a size.

According to Primark, I fit a 14-16. The leggings I’m wearing are sporty ones and they’re the only ones I could stretch up my legs. In New Look, I’m a size 14 in leggings and a couldn’t heave-ho a pair of 16 jeans beyond my knees. In Next I’m a 14 and in M&S, I’m a 14. Why do sizes differ so much? It can be embarrassing when you’re dragging an armful of clothes to the changing room, only to find the size you thought you were no longer makes it over your hips. Whilst it’s often said that sizes come up different in shops due to ‘vanity sizing,’ their trick of making shoppers feel slimmer, leaves most of us feeling frustrated, upset, angry and annoyed, rather than flattered.

It’s frustrating that all shops in the UK differ so much, but it appears that it’s not just here that experience problems with sizing, a lot of brands do it worldwide. In a video for Vox, video producer Dion Lee investigates the discrepancies in women’s clothing sizes. She heads to three popular women’s clothing shops to purchase a size 4 pair of jeans from Zara, Forever 21, and Topshop.

“They were all labelled as a 4, but the results were vastly different,” Lee wrote in an article for Vox. “The pair from Zara ended up fitting very loosely on my waist, while the ones from Forever 21 were so small that I couldn’t even zip them up. The jeans from Topshop were the only pair that actually fit me properly.”


We live in a world where magazines, newspapers and the world’s press shove their obsession with skinniness in the faces of their audience and whilst there is a huge problem with obesity, there’s far too much fixation on pushing people, especially girls to lose weight. It’s a numbers game, those complicated body mass index (BMI) calculations that makes us look far too much into that last pound on the scale. We live in a world where it’s apparently totally acceptable to be a size 0 and praise it, but to me, looking at Victoria Beckham doesn’t make me want to be like her. She’s far too skinny. You can be slim or skinny without looking like a stick insert. There’s so much pressure these days to follow these diets because that’s what is classified as normal, rather than celebrating healthier sizes that is so much more common. I just want to fit into a size that’s going to be the same whatever shop I go to and I’d also like to know what size I am, rather than a give or take. I don’t want to be an inbetweener. Am I the only one who feels like this or do other women feel the same? I’d love to hear from you.


One Comment Add yours

  1. siddiebowtie says:

    Yep. Aussie here, but i’ve no idea what’s going on with sizing.

    I mostly buy 2nd hand op-shop/vintage clothes, so i just try on anything i like that looks remotely “fittable”. Before motherhood, i was a 10-12. Now, I seem to be more like 12-14. Fair enough, we can’t stay young forever, etc etc. But the thing is, i’ve recently moved to a rural location, and buying things over the internet is pretty much the only way i can buy *new* clothes now. I have a very good idea of what styles are- and are not- flattering on me these days, but it’s bloody difficult when one shop’s size 12 is another’s size 10, and yet another shop’s size 14 is actually a 16, and so on. Things are eternally either too big or too small. Years ago, i made most of my own clothes myself. I don’t feel i’ve go the damn time or energy now, but maybe it’s time to go back to that….sigh!

    Liked by 1 person

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