Let’s Talk About High Street Sizes

So yesterday I was super excited when I got notification to say my H&M parcel had been delivered. Well no, that’s not exactly true because the email came from Hermes and I knew that there was a strong possibility that my parcel would be closer to the moon than my letter box, but that’s not what this is about.

I had ordered three items from H&M: a ladies t-shirt, size ‘S’, a pair of mom jeans, size 12 – because I’m a 10-12 and I figured I’d size up because jeans can be notoriously tricky to get right – and a hoodie from the kids section, aged ’14+’ – because I loved it, I’m quite petite so there was a possibility it would fit me, and I figured worst case scenario I’d just return it. Quite a mixed bag, right? Well, I figured I had a pretty good chance with everything fitting.

The first thing I thought I should try on was the kids hoodie, and I was super pumped to find that it fit me perfectly, yay! From the photo on the website, it was supposed to be a loose-fit style for kids, and it was a little more fitted on me, but it definitely didn’t look like I’d squeezed myself into a kids shirt. Win. I had no worries about the t-shirt fitting, but if anything it was a little looser than I expected, and then there were the jeans..

Remember how I said that I sized up? From the moment I stepped into them, I just knew that they weren’t going to fit. Despite being ‘mom jeans’, they just barely made it over my thighs, and there was absolutely no chance of them doing up. So tell me, why can I fit into a kids size item, and then not an adult size from the same store?

But this isn’t just about me complaining about my H&M order, this is about what high street stores are doing to girls and women every day. The industry is typically infamous for producing unrealistic body expectations with the use of tiny models, photoshop and various other things that make the average woman feel like a slug, but even if you take away all of these things, you’re still left with something that can be potentially so harmful, and that is the massive discrepancy between the supposed same sizes, not just between different brands, but even within the same store.

Let me put it this way: I bought those jeans a size bigger than what I am, and the size bigger than what I am did not fit me. Some of the thoughts that instantly go through my head are ‘oh my gosh, is it me?’, ‘have I gained weight without noticing?’, ‘could I actually be 2 or even 3 sizes bigger than I think I am?’. After this flood of negative thoughts about my own body, I talk myself down and remember that H&M is particularly infamous for big sizing issues, but before I could get to that explanation, I spent a few minutes feeling like absolute crap.

One time, I bought two pairs of skinny jeans from New Look – both size 10. One pair was a good fit, although actually a little looser in some places. I still have those jeans to this day. The other pair wouldn’t even go up my calf. My arm barely fit into them. Same number on the label, same shop, two completely different actual sizes.

I mean, I get that it might be completely possible to have a totally unified system, for whatever stupid reason the stores always give when challenged on this, but its not the fact that I can vary from a size 8-14 depending on where I’m shopping – I can live with that – its what this does to my confidence. Even Asos now has a ‘size recommendation’ feature, which is designed to give you a better idea of what you should order based on your personal details and previous purchases, and when I first saw it, I thought ‘hey, what a great idea!’ Well, that was until one time I saw something that I liked, selected my size, and the little message popped up saying, and I paraphrase, ‘um, you’re probably not gonna fit into that, why don’t you get the next size up?’ – yes I exaggerated what was actually said, but it actually made me feel so bad about myself that I just stopped shopping and closed the window.

In case I haven’t made my point clear enough – this is damaging. Brands can use all the curvy, un-edited models in the world, but if the size of their products doesn’t reflect some sort of consistency, girls and women everywhere are still going to be subject to the effects that the fashion industry has on body image.

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11 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About High Street Sizes

  1. The sizing can be so annoying in stores especially H&M I have things from there ranging from a kids size 10 to a women’s size 16, every different style of jeans and shorts from there seem to be a different size which is just ridiculous I tend to just go by measurements if I’m shopping online now rather than look at the standard sizing in fact I have no idea what my standard size is anymore because all my clothes are a different number… so frustrating!

  2. I had this same problem last week! I was close to tears in a H&M fitting room because I would have to size up TWO sizes to fit into the Mickey Mouse jeans I wanted. I said I couldn’t take such a big hit to my self esteem and put them back, and ever since I’ve felt terrible about my body. What’s the point of sizing if it isn’t universal!?

      • Same! I was absolutely heartbroken, as I know I’m not a 16 (I’m a 10/12 too!) and they were a weird fit! Tight at the top but loose at the bottom? I didn’t bother in the end but I keep going back and forth about whether I should have x

  3. H and M and Primark sizes are ridiculous. I’m an 8, and sometimes have to go to a 12-14 in Primark. And yet I’ll go to M and S and find I’m a 6?! There’s no continuity and sometimes it puts me off shopping online for this reason. I also have had two parcels ‘delivered’ by Hermes today to a safe place, so goodness knows where those will be….


  4. Pingback: Oh Mickey, You’re So Fine | Lottie Does

  5. H&M is really weird with sizing. I’ve found that their tops/dresses tend to generally fit as expected, but skirts, trousers, jeans… no chance. I don’t even try with them now because it’s a sure fire way for me to feel sad and overweight.

    • Its awful isn’t it? I can fit a size or two smaller in some of their tops but I’ve never really bought bottoms before, and after this experience I doubt I will again!

  6. I hate shops sizing issues! But I equally hate trying clothes on while out shopping so I always tend to size up and hope for the best
    Crazy though isn’t it how widely it can vary?

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