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The opposite of vanity sizing

Any woman will tell you clothes sizing is an emotive minefield. However well cut and flattering an item is, if it's a size bigger than you'd like, it either won't be purchased or will lurk evilly in the back of a wardrobe.

I have even been known to splurge on clothes on trips to America just because the sizing looks a lot smaller (a US 12 is a UK 16, for example) or in other countries where the sizing is on a completely different scheme that has no meaning to me.*

I'd been kidding myself I've been size 16 forever, despite much of my wardrobe cutting me in half in the middle**. It wasn't until some trousers got loose or started to fall down that I went through my wardrobe and realised just how many size 18s had snuck in; at least five pairs of jeans, two pairs of work trousers and four skirts. Honest to God, I had not a single recollection of having gone up a size.

Now I'm delighted to report that most of my size 16s are loose or falling off. I'm not a full size down to confidently buy size 14s off the shelf in just any shop, though. I started by ordering a size 14 pair of trousers from a catalogue that is known for coming up large, and lo and behold they fit.

Also I know I can fit into size 16 from pretty much anywhere now without trying it on.

However, there was this one pair of size 16 work trousers that made me doubt I'd made any progress at all. I bought them in H&M confident that I'd mastered size 16, even from cheap shops that come up small. But oh no, as soon as I got home it was a case of Mr Muffin-Top, meet Ms Camel-Toe.

I took them back the next day, but this seriously dented my confidence. All this weight gone and I still can't fit into size 16?

It was just that pair of trousers and just that shop, though. With my refund money I went to New Look, another young person's cheap shop that has a reputation for smaller sizes, and bought a much smarter pair of work trousers in size 16 that fit like a dream and really flatter me.

Of course, this morning I ran for the train and it was all I could do to stop them falling down round my ankles! So now, I think I'll be size 14 all the way. And if certain shops have "anti-vanity sizing" that makes me feel fatter than I am, well I'll just take my business elsewhere, thank you very much!


* Not Italy though. If you're feeling fat, never shop in Italy. The sizes seem to go from microscopic to teeny-tiny, the latter labelled XXXL.

** Since I started only wearing clothes than fit I have no symptoms of IBS - could it have been tight clothes rather than food sensitivities?

21 votes + -


sooh2011 wrote 53 months ago:
Ha! H&M and Superdry both made me feel awful after losing my weight and still being in larger sizes. I'm now 5'3 and 9 stone 7....and yet that is still large (H&M) and XL (Superdry). Surely I'm not large?

Pfft, took my business to M&S, lol!
kyle4jem wrote 53 months ago:
I found that even in M&S there were differences between their "brands". I was OK with Blue Harbour, but North Coast was a size smaller that it was labelled and as for Autograph... well that had to be at least 2 sizes bigger for the clothes to fit well.

Used to wear H&M clothes a lot when I was a thinny... but that was a very long time ago now.

I'm probably a size smaller now than when I started, but haven't dug out the old clothes just yet as I like the feeling of my clothes being loose on me, rather than cutting off my circulation after a while <lol>
JoelleMonique wrote 53 months ago:
Mr Muffin-Top, meet Ms Camel-Toe. love it!
MrsSWW wrote 53 months ago:
Ah so true in every way! :D
flausa wrote 53 months ago:
I'm going to be going back to the States for a week and will be doing some vanity size shopping. No idea what size I'll be there now, but it will be a single digit! I think I was a single digit for about 3 days as a teenager.
morenita71 wrote 53 months ago:
great post and totally true - it's almost as though you have to pay for the privilege of vanity sizing. Zara is my bugbear - go to Spain alot and went recently here XXL is too small and from their labels they allegedly do business in US! Not sure how that works. Back in the day before going back to uni Jigsaw were always cut generously. (I have a beautiful suit - size 16 jacket and 14 trousers which I can no longer wear had I had any occasion to wear it)White Stuff do some quite nice quirky stuff and they are quite large. Their 14s are now massive on me - unwearable and the 12 stretch denim skirt needs a belt. Coast are quite generous too - 14 size dress I bought for my 40th accommodated my unshrinkable puppies. It's an expensive business losing weight. I do love a bit of New Look though and they are keeping me going until I have enough cash for investment pieces (and a figure I want to invest in!)
debswebby wrote 53 months ago:
What a fantastic post. I can really empathise with you. However, its worth remembering that labels can't always be believed especially in the cheap shops. It is a sneaky trick by the clothing manufacturers and warehouses to sew in a different size label if they have made too much of one size and not enough of another.
Different shops have different statistics in their size ranges too. M&S (for example) are targeting women of a certain age and are more generous on the hip than a shop targeting young teens.
we all put so much emphasis on what the labels say but I tend to follow my mum's advice. She said "Always buy clothes that fit you no matter what the label says. No-one sees the labels only you and if they offend you that much, cut them off" :D
Missylydia wrote 53 months ago:
H&M and Zara make me want to cry! I tried on a Large shirt in Zara and it was far too small. I am a UK size 10/12!!!
Eleanorjanethinner wrote 53 months ago:
I agree about the Large/ Extra-large thing. It's complete nonsense! And it's ridiculous that so many shops just cut themselves of from a huge (no pun intended) potential market by stopping at a small size 14.

I've only lost 2.9 kg (6 pounds) so far, but I hoping to fit all the size 14's I come across, then maybe edge towards a 12 in some stores! (can I believe that it's possible?!!)
significance wrote 53 months ago:
Could the 16s that didn't fit have been a girl's size 16 instead of an adult size?
suz74 wrote 53 months ago:
I love H&M but you're spot on, their stuff can be titchy and never designed with curves in mind. I always get a wee boost from Next though and have been so surprised at New Look as well. Great reading! Still chuckling about muffin tops and camel toes!
Genie30 wrote 53 months ago:
I have two pairs of trousers, both by the same manufacturer, one is an 18 and one is a 20. The 18 fits me well, the 20 is snug. Labels mean nothing!
erikazj wrote 53 months ago:
Brilliant blog post - clothing labels seem to be pretty spurious even within the same store.

On the IBS thing - tight clothes definitely don't help me - if I waear a fuel belt when running, or tighten up the waist bit on my rucksack too much I get more or less instant bloat and pain.
Kimmer2011 wrote 53 months ago:
I've read that clothing is frequently mislabeled. So it could have truly been a wrong size.
LixxiKitti wrote 53 months ago:
oh im glad thats the case with H&M, i recently bought some stuff there in canada and I was a size up from what i thought i'd be
1985ldm wrote 53 months ago:
im 26, and a size 18 right now. id say that as ive grown up, if anything most shops (especially m&s) have increased the size of their clothes - so an 18 now would probably have been a 20 ten years ago - id say new look and next have quite big sizes. i shop there because their clothes fit me well. but i dont think its a good thing that shops have pandered to our obesity.

h&m and top shop are places that have been consistent- its sad that they are now seen as small sizing when really they havent changed. either way, i want to be able to shop there!

it sounds like youre caring way too much what the shops are dictating to you - why dont you stick to using good old measurements? shops are so inconsistent it seems mad to base your esteem on something so variable.

cutting yourself in half wont do your digestive system any favours - ive got IBS, and when i sit down a certain way, if my jeans are cutting into me ill feel a bit sore and nauseous.

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