Clothing sizes: we are more than just a number

Wow, look at these fabulous dresses I found in the sales this weekend - I just fell in love with the raspberry pink pattern (Kew from TK Maxx; £22), and I go weak at the knees for the any kind of monochrome (BHS, £12.50), but this dress has a particularly gorgeous collar and structure. 

What's in a number anyway?

And now take a look at the numbers next to them.  

Yes, I bought the dresses because they released my inner twirl as soon as I saw them, but they are two dress sizes apart (sale-shoppers don’t always get their perfect size).  And perhaps sizes that many women would shy away from. 

I did search for a 16 or 18 in the monochrome, but they had all gone.  However, when I tried the dress on, I realised that my sewing skills (enthusiastic amateur) could come in handy. I tried to imagine leaving the dress on the rail and walking away, but I just couldn’t do it – that’s when I know I have to head to the till.

I will likely need to shift 7lbs to fit into the pink dress (no more evening snacking with Big Brother, yay!) but I’m definitely wearing it for my birthday in six weeks’ time.  I will also re-hem the monochrome dress, as I’m a bit engulfed in the fabric.  But a cardigan will hide the larger sleeves, and it will be perfect wear for Autumn.

When I hung the dresses up in my wardrobe, I took a closer look at my labels, and spotted that I actually wear garments ranging from a 12 up to 20. 

Does my Positive Mental Attitude look bothered in this?

I can't be the only woman with multiple sizes in her drawers? 

And I don't just mean the section marked "Will Fit into Again One Day" (I too have a little section of dresses I can't quite part with regardless that I haven't worn them in 10 years, and may never do again now that I'm a Mummy on the 40 bus).

Okay, okay, the DKNY 12 label is on a coat I bought from the US, so it’s actually a UK 16, but I have vests and tunics that are a UK 12 that I wear on a regular basis.

I wear size 12, 14, 16, 18 and now 20. What are the clothing manufacturers doing to us?  A standard sizing across shops would be helpful, but I appreciate that there are too many variables to consider – the kind of fabric and cut, for two - which can affect the sizing, never mind the time or temperature of the day which affects me.   A quick search online revealed way too many charts and numericals for my qualitative mind to process. 

Maybe that’s why I love Gap and H&M; they size in S, M, L.

But, do you know what?  It doesn’t matter; we are more than just the numbers on a label.   

The important thing is how I look in the dress, or top or trousers and how the garment becomes a part of my life, not the whole of my life.  

I want to get dressed once at the start of the day and feel happy running around after my family, not worried about a tight bodice, or loose jeans.  

And, if I’m wearing something larger than I am, providing I tailor it to my shape (or seek a willing dressmaker), then just think of the compliments heading my way because something fits well.  

So, what fabulous bargains have you found in the sales?


  1. I'm always on the lookout for a bargain. It's my favorite way to shop. I must admit that it's hard not to be fixated on clothing sizes even though the wearer is the only one to know what size something is. When I worked in retail it is what I used to tell the women that I would help with clothes. Personally, for me, it was sometimes hard when I got to my heaviest and was a little uncomfortable in my skin. Glad you feel that you are more than the label.

  2. Hi Shalama, you sound like my ideal retail assistant. We struggle regularly with our bodies, and it's hard to remember to be kinder to ourselves, but having a Positive Mental Attitude to begin with is a great help!