Clothing size irregularities

Size irregularities suit certain sectors of the fashion industry.
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  • Updated:25 May 2009

04.What size is our journalist?

Kate Browne, CHOICE journalist holding size signsPssst! Want to drop several dress sizes in less than an hour? Forget about dieting or exercise and simply go shopping for clothes. To test out just how much difference there can be between clothing sizes, I head to Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall for a shopping expedition. My mission? To buy a straight black skirt. Sounds easy, especially in this winter’s range. Less easy was working out what size I was.

First stop was chain store Portmans, and in their range I fit perfectly into a size 14 skirt.
Deciding I must be a 14, I head a few doors down to Sussan and grab a 14 in their range. However, when I try it on it almost falls off, so I try a 12, which is also too loose, before finally zipping up a perfect-fitting 10.

Feeling good, I set off for Country Road, where their pencil skirts are labelled “small”, “medium” and “large”. The small doesn’t quite do up but the medium fits nicely. Later, the size 12 skirt at Witchery proves too small and the 14 too big, so I assume that makes me a 13 – but they don’t make half-sizes.

In the department stores, the body bamboozling continues. According to Sportscraft, I’m a 10 but Alannah Hill thinks I’m a 14. SABA and Lisa Ho split the difference, putting me in a 12. It’s a self-esteem rollercoaster as I teeter between feeling petite and plus size depending on who’s dressing me.

Kate Browne, CHOICE journalist holding size signsI then sample a few higher-end Australian designers.

Leona Edmiston pegs me as a “3” in her dress range, which according to the sales assistant is a “large 12” or ”small 14”, whatever that means. Australian designers Sass & Bide don’t even bother with Australian sizing on some of their labels, with one of their jackets informing me it’s a European size 40 and US 6.

Finally, a sample of Wayne Cooper leaves my self-esteem in the gutter. After trying on a size 2 dress, then 3 and finally 4 (which is still too small) I realise in his eyes I’m far too big to wear any of his designs.

Feeling despondent, I head for the door but decide to make a stop at Target on the way home and try on one more skirt, the best fit being a 10. The confusion continues…

– Kate Browne, CHOICE journalist

To follow Kate on her shopping trip, watch our video, or click on the video below to see an extended interview with Jo-Ann Kellock, Executive Director of the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries Australia.


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