Measurements By Dress Size in cm and Inches
Measurements for UK clothes sizes vary depending on the clothing manufacturer or brand you are looking at. However many stores use the following bust measurements, waist measurements and hip measurements for their sizes.
Understanding UK Dress Sizes
UK dress sizes can be downright confusing, the system is not standardised at all, which creates some issues. It's important to understand how UK dress sizing works and how it can affect self image. UK dress sizes are also used in Australia and New Zealand (although many New Zealand stores now give sizes as S, M, L with cm measurements available).
Currently Recognised Sizes
Most UK dress sizing systems start at about a size 8 and can run to a size 32. Depending on the manufacturer, a UK size 8 dress can correspond with a US size 4 or 6. However, it is almost certain that the UK size 12 will be smaller than the American size 12, a UK size 14 dress will be smaller than an American size 14 dress and so on for each size number. Therefore, because there are no standard currently in place, you never really know exactly what the match is. If you try on the size that you expect to purchase and it's too small, that doesn't necessarily mean you've gained weight; you might just be dealing with the frustrating size discrepancy which occurs between manufacturers.
UK Issues With Brand Variation
The biggest frustration that UK shoppers have is the variation between sizes. Different clothing designers and manufacturers are using different measurement sets to designate a particular size. In many instances, it seems that money can buy thin. Simply put, more expensive clothing fudges the most on what size the shopper wears. A more expensive line of clothing is more likely to use a smaller size to identify a dress with larger measurements. The variation is actually quite large. For example, a dress that is labeled a size 14 can have a bust measurement anywhere from 93 to about 101.5 centimetres. The same dresses have a hip measurement ranging between 100 and 108 centimetres. The dress makers at Marks & Spencer was the most accurate, using the smallest measurements for a size 14, while Jaeger dresses were fudged the most using the largest measurements for size 14 in a recent survey. See our Brand Size Guides page for more information.
Attempts At Standardisation - BS3666
BS3666 was produced in 1982 in an attempt to standardise British sizes for women's clothes from the smallest size 8 to the largest size 32, however without any legal requirements for retailers to use the standard, it had little effect. It has since been superseded by EN13402 which uses body dimensions in order to size clothes and was created in order to provide a common set of European clothing sizes. The standard was also quite lax giving ranges for bust measurements and hip measurements for each of the sizes as below:
|Size||Bust From||To||Hips From||To|
UK dress sizes are also widely used in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
UK Dress Size Lookup
Pressure on UK Women to be a Smaller Size
There is a lot of cultural pressure for UK women to "be a smaller size". What many women may not realise, however, is that this is an illusion. The National Sizing Survey indicates that the shape of UK women's bodies have significantly shifted in the last 50 years, but our mental pictures often remain the same. The good news for UK shoppers is that the European Union is promoting a new sizing system, with actual measurements listed on the labels instead of the often-confusing UK dress sizes. This might be one step in helping women get comfortable in their own skins and throw away the often-meaningless UK dress size system.