sizesOver Easter, I spent a week in England, and probably one of the most useful pieces of knowledge I brought back with me is what sizes I wear in the UK. No, seriously. I like to order clothes online now and then, and sizes (which are different in what feels like every single European country) are a huge stumbling block. It’s comparatively easy, though by no means fool-proof, if the clothes go by S, M, L etc. I usually wear a Small in tops and jackets, and a Small or Medium in most skirts, dresses and coats (I would never dare order a pair of trousers online.) Once we get to size 8, 10, 12 etc. I used to be stuck. Some shops offer a list of comparative sizes in the different European systems, or tell you to measure yourself to find out what UK size you are. I’d done that, but as the measurements differ between the sites, I still felt unsure.

So now in England, I went to a number of shops. It was quite heavenly! Fashion, internation as it is, has its own individual nuances in each country, and it’s always great fun to try on some style I’d never find at home. Then there were such delightful stores in Cambridge, where I enjoyed my big shopping spree. I bought a lovely summer dress and top, and a spring dress in the sales. In London I added a skirt to my finds. And I now know that I wear a UK size 10 in tops and blouses, a 10 or 12 in dresses (depending on the design), and a 12 in skirts. Hooray! (That’s US 6 and 8 respectively)

In London, something funny happened. I tried on a pencil skirt (a cut I don’t usually wear, on account of my rather full hips) in size 10 and couldn’t close the zip. Remembering it had not been available in 12 when I looked for it earlier, and wishful of at least seeing what it’d look like, I asked the shop assistant to get me the skirt in size 14. (It didn’t fit either, but at least I could close the zip and get an impression. I like pencil skirts, I do. It’s just that they don’t like me. Sigh.) Then I asked that same assistant to find some tops to try on with the other skirt (A-line) I had decided to buy. She came back and brought this huge heap of T-shirts and blouses – all in L! I tried on one or two, but looked as if I was trying to wear a tent. I am still amazed she could be so mistaken. She may not have realised that I need bigger clothes below the navel than above it, or she may have been judging me by her own figure – she was a rather fully-figured lady. No matter, I had a plane to catch and did not ask for smaller tops, so this lost her a potential sale. But I’ll still return to that store when I’m in London again – their clothes are just charming.

How do you solve the problems of size when you order online? Have you had similar experiences with shop assistants misjudging your size?

– Rike Horstmann