‘Shop Until You Drop’: How Clothing Sizes Vary


Last week I did an experiment to see how different shops cater to my clothes size. As an average size 12, most clothes come in my size but, as we all know, the fit of clothes can vary hugely between different shops which can sometimes be discouraging to the average shopper. I went to five popular High Street clothes shops and tried on similar outfits in each shop to see how the results varied.

The rules:

  • Pick out size 12 clothes (or equivalent) in each shop.
  • Try similar items of clothing (I tried out a  jeans and t-shirt combo in most shops to be as fair as possible).

So, here we go.

River Island

Jeans: £40, size 12; white top: £6, size 12; shirt: £28, size 12

I loved this outfit; I was so comfortable in it! Generally, it fit me well and it was the just the sort of outfit I normally would love to wear. With the exception of a few minor criticisms, it was great. The jeans were pretty tight to get on and I had to do a lot of breathing in, but actually once I got them on and moved around a bit, they stretched out and would probably be really comfortable after a bit of wear and tear. The white top was great; it was the sort of material that stretches and then hugs your body in the right places. The checkered shirt also fit really well. I’ve often found that these sorts of shirts can be rather tight around the shoulders, but even buttoned up this was a wonderful fit and, to top it off, it was a lovely thin and soft material. I felt very positive after River Island, and the other stores had a lot to live up to.

Overall: 9/10 – The jeans were ever so slightly tight, but otherwise, it was all great!


Jeans: £40, (W30 L30); striped vest: £12, size 12; striped t-shirt: £22, size 12

Okay, where do I start? I had some serious issues with this outfit. First of all, I look so awkward in these pictures, and with good reason. The jeans were so tight I could barely move in them. Unlike River Island’s jeans, they did not feel like they would stretch to fit me at all. The upper half of the first top (left photo) didn’t feel very secure at all (not ideal). It also wasn’t very flattering, hence why I look so uncomfortable. It bunched up rather badly as well, so perhaps a smaller size would have been more fitting to me and perhaps felt more secure. The second top (right photo) was so badly fitting, particularly around the shoulders, that I felt regardless of the size I tried on, it would never fit me. My time at Topshop was met with disappointment and I left feeling very discouraged.

Overall: 4/10 – Nothing fitted me particularly well and I felt uncomfortable.

New Look

Dungarees: £29.99, size 12; white top: £6.99, size 12

Now, I’m not going to lie, I had some high expectations from New Look. This is where I get the majority of my clothes from and they tend to fit me rather well. However, this was as close to a disaster as I got without trying on more clothes from Topshop. I decided to stick with the whole denim and top combo, but picked out these dungarees instead of jeans. The top underneath was great. The sizing was great and it was really comfortable. The dungarees felt awful. The overall cut of them was, I felt, probably more suited to someone with a really slim figure, as the slightly baggy cut of them made me feel far larger than I actually am. This was a shame, as I actually own another pair of dungarees from New Look which fit me perfectly. The pictures don’t show it, but in reality the dungarees were a bad fit; they also unfortunately do not capture my discomfort. I look even more awkward here than I did in Topshop.

Overall: 6/10 – I loved the top, but the dungarees were really unsuccessful.


IMG_1165 [3191]

Jeans: £12.99, on sale for £7, size 12; top: £12.99, size M

H&M did surprisingly well compared to some of the more expensive shops I had previously tried. The jeans were such a struggle to get on as they were more like leggings, but less stretchy. I did eventually manage to get them on though and they fit fairly well. Because they were quite tight down my legs and a good fit around my waist, they were quite flattering. The waistband was more of a legging style, as they had no pockets, buttons or belt holes, but they didn’t feel loose or like they would fall down. The top was also successful. It wasn’t anything particularly exciting, but it fit well, was quite flattering, and was made from a nice material as well.

Overall: 7.5/10 – It all fit me well, but the jeans were really difficult to get on.


Jeans: £29.99, on sale for £17.99, size 12; grey t-shirt: £12.99, on sale for £7.99, size M; white shirt: £19.99, size XS!

Zara was the one shop that I had absolutely no previous expectations to go by. I have never shopped in Zara so I was really interested to see how this went. Firstly, the jeans were so tight I could barely fit in them. They were such a thick and unyielding material that I could barely get them on, and once they were on, I could hardly walk (not exactly ideal). I also couldn’t figure out the cut of them. At the top they were fitted, but they didn’t really come in around the ankles like I thought they would. The grey t-shirt was fine; it fit well, it hung really nicely and I felt really comfortable in it (or as comfortable as I could feel with those jeans on). The shirt was just bizarre. My friend spotted it as we were heading to the changing rooms and picked it up saying it looked like my size. We discovered it was actually an XS, but I took it in with me anyway out of interest. Strangely, it fit me well. There were no other sizes, and I would normally be a medium. Either it’s meant to be extremely baggy, or their sizing was just way off the mark. I liked the tops in Zara, but the jeans were such a failure.

Overall: 6/10 – The tops were great, but the jeans were really awful.

At the end of the day, I had fairly mixed results. River Island was really successful, while Topshop was pretty much a complete failure. The others all had positives and negatives. It just goes to show that sometimes it’s pure luck that your typical or expected size actually fits you well. So when you’re next at a clothes shop, and you find your usual size doesn’t fit you, don’t be discouraged and start hating your body – there’s a good chance the clothes shop just didn’t get it quite right.


English and History student.

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