Every woman will know this pain… So what can we do about it? 147



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I’m not usually one who complains a lot. But right now I’m going to have a gripe about something that has been bothering me quite a lot lately and I’m sure you will have a strong opinion on the matter too…

Every year prior to Christmas I treat myself… Not with anything too significant but I buy myself a new Christmas party outfit. I wear it to every function I have to attend so it definitely get my moneys worth and I make sure it is something I enjoy wearing.

I normally love shopping (especially for myself because I’m selfish!) but this year I have had the most unpleasant experience. Not because of the crowds, not because things are too pricey and not because the shop attendants are rude… It is because the clothes sizing is so inconsistent.

Yes, I know I sound like I am having a whinge about a third world problem, but here is why it matters to me and probably a lot of other women out there too.

Whether we like it or not, we place self worth on our appearance. Are we pretty, do we look younger than we really are, are our hips too big and are we skinny enough. Therefore, shopping for new clothes is intimidating at best.

Sometimes, we become accustomed to the idea that we are one particular size. For me, I’m a size 14. That is what I have been for the last five years and that is what I’ll probably be for quite some time unless I eat too much Christmas pudding. I’m comfortable as a size 14, I’ll always have an inkling of desire to be a size 12, but that is very unlikely to ever happen.

Recently on my shopping trips I have been varying in my size – hugely. At one store, I tried on a lovely dress that was a size 12. I was shocked – and overwhelmingly happy! But then, at another store, I was a size 16. Following this, I asked if there was another, similar dress and I was told by the assistant that if I’m a size 16 perhaps I should look at plus size shops.

Now I have nothing at all against plus sized women, in fact I wish they weren’t segregated and considered “plus size”. But, there is a level of emotional strain you go through when someone makes judgments about your weight and size – regardless of whether they are assisting you or not.

After this, I went home and did some research on clothing sizes in Australia. As it turns out, I’m not alone in my plight and that our clothing brands are deviating away from the median size up to six centimetres.

Mez Gallifuoco a young woman that shares my frustrations set out to find out the truth about womens clothing with help from Fairfax. The following measurements are taken from some of our most well known brands and are based on how much they deviate from the median…

The generous ones include…

  • Sussan – 1-2cm bigger than the median size
  • Sportscarft – 4-6cm bigger than the median size
  • Noni B – 1cm bigger than the median size
  • Metallicus – 1-2cm bigger than the median size
  • Kmart – 4-6cm bigger than the median size
  • Jigsaw – 2-4cm bigger than the median size
  • Esprit – 1cm bigger than the median size


The ones that are smaller sizes are…

  • Big W – 1-3cm smaller than the median size
  • Target – 3-5cm smaller than the median size
  • Country Road – 1-2cm smaller than the median size
  • Sass and Bide – 1-2cm smaller than the median size
  • Seafolly – 2-4cm smaller than the median size
  • Zara – 1.2cm smaller than the median size


Basically, ever since the National Australian Sizing Standard was removed by the Federal Government in 2008, clothing brands have been given significant freedom to manipulate sizing for their own purpose. This has meant that women like you and I are victims of vanity sizing, and regularly feel worse about ourselves because of it.

Studies have found that vanity sizing actually manipulates us as it drives excess consumerism to fill the gap in our self-esteem. Basically, some brands actually want us to feel that way as we may buy more.


I’m a 66 year old woman and self esteem has rarely been an issue in my life, but the truth is I’m feeling these pressures and effects right now. So if I can feel them, I can only imagine what this is doing to the women out there who have battled with these issues for years.


Have you felt victim to vanity sizing before? Do you come across this much when you shop? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

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  1. And the brands change sizing every couple of years. Length serms to be a seasonal option and they are getting shorter and less butt covering especially in tops

  2. I don’t try anything on..I just go by size..I am 5 foot 8 inches tall and have never even had to take up a hem, they seem to be made my height, however in the last few years the size on the label does not seem to represent the actual size it is !!

  3. I vary between size 6,8,10 depending on where I buy try to stick to brands and store I know so I don’t go through this problem

  4. I recently tried on two frocks in a popular boutique store, only to find that one didn’t fit in a size 16 and the other one was too big in a size 12 ( I’m normally 12/14 depending on style. I have also discovered this year that in long dresses, if you are over a size 12, you need to be 6′ tall!!!

    1 REPLY
  5. Don’t get me started on sleeveless or cap sleeves where if you are size 14/16 it is believed your upper arm is twice the size it should be. The dress/top will fit you a the bust/shoulders but the arm hole is so big it shows all your bra and there is no way it can be altered successfully. Is anyone else experiencing this problem?

    2 REPLY
    • Constantly! I was only saying this to my family again this week. I’m no seamstress, but I believe this happens these days because there are very seldom darts at the bust area and the top then doesn’t shape well.

  6. When selling clothes in my store, I spent a deal of time assuring my customers the label was only a number/word on the garment. Most ladies could tell by looking if something would fit or not and I became adept as helping by sight. Only ever had a couple of customers who were too precious to buy because ‘I’m only a 14 and refuse to but 16’. Mind, some would come in for a 14B bra and then it would be fun convincing them to try 18!!

    4 REPLY
    • Lol…my boobs saved me from more damage a few weeks ago when I had a fall off a couple of steps landing on the concrete floor Margaret…must have bounced…heehee…my daughter commented in front of the male ambo and the male motel receptionist, “we always knew those breasts were good for something else!!!”…silly girl, because the ambo took it from there and grinned at me with “I can think of other things they would be good for”…lol…his female offsider gave him a warning grin…so I told him how terrible he was!!! But then the other older fella got in on it!!! Oh dear!!

    • Meg Hyde…there is nothing worse than seeing women in bras that are too small for them. I feel awkward just looking at them, as I can’t wait to get mine off…lol.

  7. I find it’s not only brands, but also styles and material types that have to be considered when selecting a size

  8. I buy what fits and if the size is to big I take the tag out . If smaller I wear it inside out so everyone can see the tag .

    5 REPLY
    • I just buy things that fit and look nice no matter what the size is. Tags get taken off all my clothes because I can’t stand them on my neck. I have clothes that go from a size 12 to a size 18, and if I do buy something that is a bit snug, I hand it to one of my grand-daughters.

    • I do the same Jennifer as the tags and labels graze my neck. I have found though that the sizes have changed and whereas at Target I always bought size 10 or 12, I now get 14 or 16. My weight is still the same so assume my body has changed proportions.

    • I wasn’t sure if I should tell a woman, in a lift once, that the label of her top was jutting above her neckline, but I did. she turned and smiled and said ‘I know. It’s a ….’ Can’t remember the label now but it was like Versace or similar. lol

  9. In cheaper clothing I have always bought a size ( or two) larger than I am. However I have found that lately even more expensive brands are not sized correctly. I was told that manufacturers often add smaller sizes to a batch up. Say the batch of size 16’s was supposed to be 100 and they are 15 short they will throw in 15 size 14 or even 12 to make up the numbers ( size tag altered to suit). Bad luck for us if we buy by size and don’t try it on!!

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