Imagine a world with standardized sizes, where you can step into every shop and find jeans that fit with hardly any effort.

It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, in the UK, sizes vary quite a lot from store to store and brand to brand, so finding out your dress size is only part of the process when it comes to buying clothes.

Still, if you’re unsure what your dress size actually is, here’s a quick guide on how to figure it out!

1. Take your measurements

Knowing your measurements is the most accurate way to figure out your dress size. All you need is a soft tape measure (and some patience!). The main three are the bust, waist, and hips:

  • Bust – Measure around the back, under the arms, and across the fullest part of the breast
  • Waist – Measure around the waist, with the tape measure snug but not too tight
  • Hips – Measure over the fullest part of the hips. This can vary depending on your body shape

You can always get someone else to take these measurements for you, if it’s easier.

Once you have your measurements, figuring out where you stand is easier. Most clothing retailers have a chart on their websites – for example, ASOS has a dedicated webpage for your guidance. You can check your measurements against that chart before you order.

Roughly, this seems to be the standard for clothing retailers in the UK:


However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule – sizes can vary wildly between retailers and brands, so unfortunately, measurements aren’t the end of the story! Using ASOS as our example again, they’re an online fashion retailer that stocks different brands in addition to their own clothing line. Their size chart relates to their own brand clothing and as such other brands may vary from this.

2. Look at reviews

A useful thing about online shopping is that you can read user reviews. Sometimes these even include pictures, and they’re so useful for figuring out whether a garment is true to size.

If you’re shopping online and you’re unsure, check out the reviews – people will soon give you an idea on whether they’re bigger, smaller, or accurate in terms of sizing.

(This is also a great way to check if an item of clothing is of good quality or not!)

3. Take notes

It’s a good idea to make a mental note of how certain brands fit you (or even a note on your phone if you want to ensure you don’t forget).

For example, some retailers are known for being a little larger than average, and others are known for being pretty small for their suggested size. If you know that Tu Clothing fits you just right, but New Look clothing runs a little small, remembering this is crucial!

4. Tops & bottoms

Clothing Sizes UK
Image credit: Waldemar, Pexels

You may find that one retailer’s jeans fit you really well, but their tops are way too big. This is because, as humans, we’re not all the same body shape!

Pear shapes, for example, may need a larger size on the bottom than the top, while women with larger breasts may need a bigger size in tops but find that the same size in jeans is way too big.

Sometimes, buying separates is easier for certain body shapes. Luckily, there are some lovely separates out there at the moment, so mixing and matching sizes is easier than ever.

5. Test it out

Image credit: cottonbro studio, Pexels

Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, sizing is so variable that the best thing you can do is to try on the garments before you buy them. I know this is a pain (especially when you’re in a rush!), but I’ve made the mistake of not trying on clothing many times before, only to have to stand in a horrendous queue for the customer service desk later.

If you’re still trying to figure out your dress size, I’d recommend going into a store that is reputed to be fairly true to size (you can look this up using the online reviews I mentioned earlier). Pick a few different sizes in the same item – for example, if you’re measuring as a 10, you can also pick up an eight and a twelve.

Trying them all on will give you a better idea of your size in that garment, which at least narrows down the search when you’re shopping around!

Featured image by cottonbro studio via Pexels

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