What size am I?

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I hate shopping, for one reason in particular. I’m in the changing room with a pair of size 8 jeans. They look a bit small, but they’ll fit; a size 8 always fits. They fit in the shop next door just five minutes ago.

I put my feet through the holes and pull them up towards my knees – oh, a bit tight but they will go up. So, we get to my thighs and it’s becoming more challenging. Things have stalled, but I’m willing to power through. Ok, now I’m sweating and a little out of breath. They are closer to my waist but I can’t move my legs and I’m sucking in so hard I think I might faint. It’s time to give up.

Every woman knows there is a frustrating disparity between sizes on the high-street; it’s commonplace to be a size 10 in one shop and a size 14 in the next. It seemed that retailers were creating their own dress size guidelines, sometimes strategically bigger, to give the shopper a false sense of thinness. This discrepancy just hadn’t been proven yet.

Anna Powell-Smith is a London based computer programmer who has used her love of fashion to create an app which satisfies our sizing dilemmas. What size am I? allows you to input your bust, waist and hip measurements and then access a graph which maps your statistics to see where you fit in the high-street.

Anna was surprised that no-one had explored the idea sooner, as she believes fashion and programming have a natural affinity. She says: “At their best, both are about craftsmanship, invention and delight in the new.”

Although variety was expected, the results still came as a surprise. None of the shops in the database, which includes New Look, Dorothy Perkins and Topshop, showed consistency in their sizing and the fluctuation was incredible at times. A size 10 waist in Monsoon measured 66.5 inches, compared to a size 10 in Gap which measured 71 inches. A difference of four and half inches; you’re moving up two UK dress sizes without gaining a pound.

What size am I? may be the most useful app for women since Google Maps but it doesn’t solve the problem of irregularity. Sometimes it feels as if shops are tying to engage us in psychological mind games, rather than just sell clothes.

Surely a clearer labelling system would prove advantageous for the shopper as well as the retailer who will see more business as customers begin to trust their sizing. It would also take the trial and error out of internet shopping. Better still, shops could adhere to a standardised size guide. Then again, a solid solution might be too obvious for the fashion industry; it gets a kick out of being vague.


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About Author

Lana Richardson is a trainee journalist currently undertaking the NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) course at Belfast Metropolitan College. Educated at Portadown College, Lana currently hosts her own fashion blog which was nominated for a 2011 Northern Ireland Social Media Award (http://www.thestylecave.info). Lana is multi-lingual and has contributed to various international online magazines.


  1. Having worked in the fashion manufacturing industry, it was quite common for a factory when a little short of a size for a delivery to replace the size label. So a size 8 could be labelled size10 or a small relabelled a medium and so on. Hence thats why sometimes a size is loose or tight.

  2. Interesting to see that Lana is multilingual. Disappointing therefore that she uses “fit” in the past tense which is just rank.