UK dress sizes to move to European system

Tapemeasure If you live in the UK, then you proably know all about vanity sizing. It’s that crazy system we have whereby a size 14 in one store corresponds to a size 12 in another, and is a size 12 somewhere else. So many of our fashion retailers over here size their clothes down, in the belief that we’ll be so delighted to find ourselves suddenly fitting into that size 10 dress that we’ll definitely want to buy it. To my mind, French Connection are the worst offenders for this: I wear a UK size 6 in most stores, but I can’t shop in French Connection at all – their size 6 will literally fall off me. Next are notorious for their generous sizing too, as are many others.

Well, all that could be set to change soon if the EU get their way. They’d like to scrap the current size system and move to a European system, whereby clothes would be measured in centimeters, so instead of buying a size 10 for instance, you’d be looking for something that corresponded to your bust, waist, hip and leg measurement. The EU say this will not only make sizes more consistent across different stores, it will also help eradicate the so-called "size 0" phenomenon, where women diet to fit into a certain dress size.

So, what does everyone think?

For myself, I’m divided on this. I know vanity sizing is a huge problem for a lot of women, who just don’t know what dress size they are, because it varies so much between stores. And I also think there’s too much emphasis on dress size, anyway. The size of someone’s dress is totally irrelevant when it comes to working out whether their bodyweight is healthy or not: fitting into a "size 0" for instance, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re anorexic if you’re a petite person, while a higher dress size doesn’t necessarily mean you’re "fat".

So, on the one hand I think moving away from the current system could be a good move. On the other hand?
I am old. And a bit stupid. I hate the thought of walking into a store and not knowing which size I am (I know I’d probably get used to it in time, but it would still feel like being abroad, and constantly having to convert the foreign currency prices into your currency before you know how much something costs). If not really being all that keen on change is my only argument against this move, though, I somehow don’t think I have a leg to stand on.

What do you think?


  • July 5, 2007


    Yes, yes, yes! Impulse buys, online shopping and jeans that actually fit!!
    So many people are saying they’d be embarrassed to declare their measurements to the world – lose some inches then! I love it and it’ll only aid me in my shopping quests! 😀
    Am grinning from ear to ear – please go ahead! 🙂

    View Comment
  • July 5, 2007


    I have a 42″ chest and a 34″ waist. Man I feel liberated!

    View Comment
  • July 6, 2007


    Here’s another piece of EU legislation the world does not need. Please, does anyone really believe this would stop women from being weight-obsessed? EU-bureaucracy at its best.

    View Comment
  • July 6, 2007


    I don’t think it will stop people being weight-obsessed, Honeybee, but that’s not the main point of doing it. I think people have become a bit hung-up on the “it’ll help get rid of size 0” side of it – the main point is to standardize dress sizes, and to make things like online shopping easier (as Posey points out), so that rather than having to guess which size will fit you, you’ll be able to see the actual measurements of the item.
    That said, most websites I use have a “size guide” section which gives you that information, and lays out the exact measurements of their various sizes, so you are still able to work it out. And I don’t think it’s that much of a big deal to have to take two sizes into the dressing room, either.
    Still undecided 🙂

    View Comment
  • July 8, 2007


    I’m from Germany so we do have this EU size system.
    You keep on talking about how easy it’ll be to find the right size and so on becuase of the measurements.
    But each label is different, so if you fit in a 36 at one label you might have a 38 in another one. So there’ll still be the same problems than before, and it doesn’t matter if you have the EU system or not.

    View Comment
  • July 8, 2007


    In principle, I think it’s a great idea. I usually just grab the smallest size a store has and go from there, but it can even be frustrating in some cases to figure out what their smallest size *is*. For example, Ann Taylor has a 00 while some jeans vendors, like Express, only go as small as a 25, while other manufacturers have 24s and 23s. While the idea of more legislation is never appealing, if it might make it easier to find clothes that fit, I’m all for it. Besides, it’s hard to see how the sizing situation could be any worse. I’m pretty much at the stage where I’ll hold each item up and kind of try to eyeball it!

    View Comment
  • September 12, 2007

    Thomas Bailey

    Since 1983, I have been using centimeters for body measurements. 106 cm chest, 103.4 cm waist. And I live in the USA for crying out loud, where hardly anyone uses metric.

    View Comment