CHOICE membership

Non standard clothing sizes



I remember around 15 plus years ago, there was a push to standardize Australian sizes. Seems that, as usual, nothing was ever done about it.


I have noticed this too but I seem to be getting smaller and smaller. iused to be a 10 - 12 but now am 8-10 or even ‘extra small’ at Kmart, Big W and even Target. I can assure you all I have not become smaller at all. This is all because of so called ‘vanity sizing’. This is all about sizing clothing as a smaller size than true so more people will buy. Who doesn’t feel better about themselves if they think they can get into a smaller size? The upmarket brands seem to go the other way and unless you are actually a 6 foot tall anorexic model, nothing is going to fit at any size. Like others, I never buy clothing on-line and ALWAYS try things on before buying.


It is time that they are required to use sizes you find on most European labels 32cm, 34cm -36cm- etc etc.


I have found metric sizing to be as inconsistent as any, although perhaps not to the excesses. I wear shoes that are 43,44, 45 and 46 for example.


Unfortunately, a lot of clothing is made in “factories” scattered around Asia and there is no proper quality control. This is apparent in various ways, including - as you mention - the labelling to indicate the size of the garments.

I have purchased two “identical” T-shirts the same day from the same store, both labelled XL (for extra large, male) and found one fitted perfectly, while the other turned out to be almost too small for my wife, who is a fraction of my size - less than “SM” (small mens), as it turned out.

We HAVE to check that EACH garment fits, before we leave the store - that means trying them ALL on, and preferably, also, checking the actual measurements with a tape measure.


Clothing bought from chain stores is made very cheaply, that’s why it’s cheap to buy.
They cut out multiple layers of fabric in one go, not individually. As a sewer I know that will cause a difference in sizing. You get what you pay for.


When you are buying clothes in a store where basics rarely cost over $20 and in many cases $2-3 I really don’t think you can complain too much. There are fitting rooms for a reason. Remember that the store is there to make a profit. So whoever is manufacturing these items is supplying vast quantities of slave made goodies presumably also to make a profit. Then the goods have to be transported, packed, unpacked, distributed, repacked, hung, tidied, and eventually sold in their millions to actualy realise a profit. I wonder how long K-Mart and BigW can keep the balls in the air?


Trying on clothing instore is not always an option. I use a wheelchair. I need to be at home and with appropriate help to try on items. It’s not as easy as taking a helper with me to the store. The cubicles are rarely large enough to accomodate the wheelchair let alone another person and still leave room to maneuver in and out of the clothing. As a person who has dropped 5 sizes in the last nine months, I have bought a lot of clothes. A standard sizing would enable me certainty when buying clothes. As it is, I waste a lot of time returning ill fitting clothing


I sympathise with you, Lea - but it’s not just you - a lot of stores aren’t keen to let people try things on, presumably they think their merchandise would become shop soiled or something.

The best way that I have found is to take a measuring tape, or take another garment with me. Of course that’s only a partial solution, because not all garments are the same, or have the same fit.

This is really annoying.


Yes this drives me nuts. I discovered recently that there is no standard here hence one brands 34 can be another brands 36. I do try them on but find that a 34 is now too small and a 36 is way too big. Rivers are a classic, they have size charts that indicate a 35 would fit nicely but guess what… they don’t stock 35. It’s nuts and it doesn’t matter if they $40 or $140, it’s still the same problem.


This problem is not new. In the 1960s I sold menswear at a department store when we had a problem with size variability. Probably a quarter of lines where it matters were not the nominal size. At least the production was usually consistent, a given line was always a size too small or half a size too big.

We were at the mercy of whatever the buyers thought was good and labels according to the actual measurement was never a selection criteria. When a new line came in the boss would open up a range and measure them - this was in the day when shirts were mainly boxed. He would then proclaim the adjustment required for that line to fit. We generally discouraged people from trying on anything but trousers or shoes. I was told it was a hygiene issue but I think it was mainly to avoid having to re-fold and re-box the rejects.

Mostly it seemed the anomalies were too small, the cutter trying to save material we thought. Occasionally they would be too big, I recall one line that was very good value but enormous, the small sizes sold out quickly and we were left with a range of nominal XOS which were the size of small tents. Whenever a really large customer came in he was shown this rack first.

Back to the present. There is no easy way to remedy the problem unless the local retailers make it an issue. If they want to advertise that their garments are correct fit and to ensure their suppliers make them so then the customer wins. If they don’t care, as seems much the case, what are we to do? Should Customs create a Division of Size Compliance that turns back badly labelled lines at the dock? Hardly.

It’s all too hard and nobody bothers to boycott brands that are wrong, which is why nothing has changed in 50 years. If people were prepared to do anything more than moan there could be change.

As for buying shoes online - you would have to have little regard for your feet.


I have to disagree with you. As one who does not shop at Big W or Kmart I don’t purchase clothing for $20. It makes no difference what you pay the sizing is still an issue.


Once upon a time (at least up to the 1960-70s) it was a good bet that more expensive, high quality clothes were cut “generously” (eg to size or a bit large with enough in the seams to be let out) and cheap ones were cut “economically” (eg small with the minimal fabric possible). - a family member owned a clothing store.

As for the lack of predictability in today’s sizing across the board, right on - there is none excepting by accident.

Today the market is flooded with vanity sizing, more openly vain people who worry about whether the clothing is a 6 or 10, so they are presented with a 10 labelled as a 6, and fewer people get clothes let out as they gain weight and prefer to buy new to stay in “fashion”.

Further many if not most modern garmets seem less durable than those of decades ago, so why let them out when they will soon wear out? I have clothes I regularly wear that are about 20 years old, timeless fashion (I am male so that makes it somewhat easier) and are still in excellent nick, but most I have added in the past few years only last a few years before they fray or worse.


As a mere male I went to K-mart to buy a couple of pairs of 4XL cargo pants as I have done before, only to find in spite of the size advisory signs above the racks going up to 6XL there was no pants of any description in this size in the store. I found my last purchase of these from this store was next to useless for my purpose when I got them home anyway as the pockets on the legs had been reduced to flaps only at the same price which I did not notice till I got home. I thought leg pockets defined cargo pants from trousers but not at k-mart it seems and no warning signs, I think the Bangladesh makers have found a new scam!
I then went to Rivers who mark their Bangladesh made cargo pants as 44 instead of 4XL the largest they stock, and they do have leg pockets but when I put them on I found they are only equivalent to 3XL.