ARE YOU A SIZE 12?
Don’t be so sure
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There is no Australian standard for clothing sizing, with the last coding scheme withdrawn in 2009.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.”