Dress Sizes have always been a bit of a minefield both here in the UK and when travelling overseas.
From my many years of designing and making made to measure clothing for both UK women and women overseas, the only sure method of obtaining someones perfect size, is to get those measurements in inches and cms. I ask for both because some people have numbers dyslexia and can unconsciously transpose numbers, so I ask for both, so that I can double check if they don't make sense.
Most legitimate online shops, give their measurements for their clothing. However, there are some that do not.
I will try to explain why some overseas based shops clothing comes up smaller than domestic shops here in the UK.
UK sizing has been changing over the years. Since the 1950s, when *vanity sizing* was first introduced. It was introduced due to us as a nation being better fed, due to better understanding of nutrition. This understanding means that women are giving birth to bigger babies, who then grow into bigger adults, voilà, the need for vanity sizing.
Another reason is that smoking or not smoking has played a part in this too, as smoking whilst pregnant was deemed a way to give birth to smaller babies by women. However, since smoking is also linked to cancer, less women are smoking during pregnancy, therefore babies are born bigger.
Another reason for bigger babies is access to a Caesarian Section. This has prevented a lot of deaths both of mother and babies, of which most babies born were bigger than the mothers pelvis was able to deliver them normally.
All of these aspects have an affect on overall height and bone length of limbs etc, which trickles down into how fashion sizes have changed over the years since they were all introduced.
However, there are other pieces of information that also skewers the fashion sizing system.
Here in the UK, due to government initiatives in the UK in the 1980s, we no longer have a manufacturing base, either for clothing, lace and fabric, or footwear. All heavy machinery was shipped out in shipping containers to India, Indonesia, china and south America, where labour costs were cheaper.
So for the last nearly 40-60 years, clothing has been made and sized according to the population of that country and has not kept up with the population sizes of this country.
The last size census in the UK was done in 2007, where the average dress sizes of a woman.
5'6 average height ..
UK size 16 ..
34DD bust ..
34 waist ..
40" hips ..
whereas in 1957, with an average petite height of
34B bust ..
28" waist ..
38" hips ..
and that was classed as a size 12 back then.
And then we have the Haute Couture sizing system, which is another stumbling block. Not quite sure, if the reason for this disparity is that HC does not do vanity sizing and has rigidly stuck to its 1950s roots for sizing dresses etc, but whatever the reasons behind this difference, I suspect that the overseas manufacturing outlets use this sizing regime to cut costs and make more profit. As the less fabric is used the more profit is made.
Haute Couture sizing Regime:
Small = UK size 6
Med = UK size 8
Large = UK size 10
High Street sizing Regime:
Small = UK size 10
Medium = UK size 12 (in reality, this should be a size 16!!)
Large = UK size 14
My advice would be to measure yourself and make your purchase based on your measurements, NOT your usual dress size.
So, I hope this has helped with the sizing confusion and I really hope that the next online shop you receive, fits your curves perfectly!! hahaha