ARE YOU A SIZE 12?

Don’t be so sure

The Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - ASTRID TAEMETS

DE­SIGN­ERS and brands are prey­ing on women’s in­se­cu­ri­ties about the size of their cloth­ing to boost sales.

The Sun­day Times found a big dif­fer­ence in mea­sure­ments be­tween brands within what ap­pears to be the same size of cloth­ing — in some cases the equiv­a­lent of al­most two dress sizes.

The ab­sence of siz­ing stan­dards in Aus­tralia has led to the rise of van­ity siz­ing, the du­bi­ous prac­tice of us­ing smaller num­bers on la­bels to boost con­sumers’ morale and, ul­ti­mately, sell more prod­uct.

Stud­ies have shown when peo­ple feel thin­ner, they are more likely to buy.

Con­versely, if buy­ers don’t fit the size they think they are, the neg­a­tive im­pact can mean them leav­ing empty-handed.

Chair­woman of the Stan­dards Aus­tralia Com­mit­tee for cloth­ing and De­sign In­sti­tute of Aus­tralia chief ex­ec­u­tive Jo-Ann Kel­lock said: “Some women have at­tached them­selves to a size la­bel and take it very se­ri­ously. It im­pacts how they feel about their body.”

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion found dif­fer­ences of up to 7cm in bust and waist mea­sure­ments, which is equiv­a­lent to 11⁄2 dress sizes.

One woman who knows the pain of shop­ping all too well is FM ra­dio per­son­al­ity Bianca Dye. She says fash­ion has be­come a frus­trat­ing game which of­ten leaves her feel­ing con­fused and de­feated.

Con­sid­er­ing her­self an av­er­age size 12, Dye was shocked on a re­cent shop­ping trip to find her­self fit­ting into cloth­ing from a size 4 to a size 14 across sev­eral well-known brands, and siz­ing within the same la­bel prov­ing in­con­sis­tent.

“This ex­pe­ri­ence pre­sented an in­ter­est­ing in­sight into the se­ri­ous lack of siz­ing stan­dards, and pre­sented an ob­vi­ous case to bring back a cod­ing scheme,” she said.

Dye, who also runs the Anx­i­ety Free so­cial me­dia group, said: “It’s quite con­fronting to see that we re­ally do need to stan­dard­ise the siz­ing in the Aus­tralian fash­ion in­dus­try. I find it out­ra­geous I can go from a size 4 to size 14.

“Wouldn’t it be bet­ter for ev­ery­one’s self-es­teem and make things less con­fus­ing if brands adopted siz­ing that re­flected the ac­tual mea­sure­ments of a gar­ment, rather than trick peo­ple into buy­ing their clothes?”

There is no Aus­tralian stan­dard for cloth­ing siz­ing, with the last cod­ing scheme with­drawn in 2009.

Ms Kel­lock, whose com­mit­tee is look­ing at what can be done, said: “It was a prob­lem for a long time be­fore then, with the stan­dard based off a Women’s Weekly sur­vey back in the ’70s, in which the mag­a­zine asked women to send in their mea­sure­ments. Of course, they lied, and so we ended up with an in­ap­pro­pri­ate guide­line from the be­gin­ning.”

But hav­ing no of­fi­cial siz­ing sys­tem for Aus­tralian re­tail­ers cre­ated prob­lems for con­sumers as brands use their own siz­ing sys­tem based on their “ideal cus­tomer” pro­file.

ZARA TOP, SMALL, COUN­TRY ROAD PANTS, SIZE 14 “After fit­ting into a size 4 Coun­try Road skirt, I was sur­prised size 14 was right. Throw in a ‘small’ top and I’ve com­pletely lost faith.” WITCH­ERY DRESS, SIZE 8 “Aside from the fact my boobs were ever so slightly big for it, the rest of the gar­ment fit­ted fine.” ZARA DRESS, LARGE 8 in “How can I be a size in one la­bel and a large part an­other? The scary size was this is the big­gest they had in this dress.” CAMILLA & MARC JACKET, SIZE 10, COUN­TRY ROAD SKIRT, SIZE 4, WITCH­ERY TOP, SIZE 14 “How can any woman be ex­pected to know her size with dis­crep­an­cies like this?” ZARA TOP, SMALL, JEANSWEST JEANS, SIZE 12 “The only thing that felt like the ‘real me’ were these jeans. Ev­ery­thing else just felt wrong.”

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