The Problem With Sizing On The High Street: Why You Should Never Be Defined By A Label

I used to cut the labels out of my clothes. Not because they irritated me, not because I was ashamed about where I shopped, but because I was worried someone would spot a label when I threw my jacket over a chair or happened to leave it poking out of the top of my dress. I was so consumed by what was on that label that I let it impact me in so many ways, but mainly I spent years trying to fit into smaller clothes just because I thought that’s what I needed to do.

Memories of my teens and twenties are full of uncomfortable and ill-fitting clothing; rather than picking the size that actually fit me, or finding a style that worked with my shape, I insisted on shopping in Topshop like my slimmer friends and squeezing into garments that neither made me look or feel good.

What was that about?

One of the most liberating things about being in my thirties is the realisation that the size of my clothes really is the least interesting thing about me; nobody cares what number is in the back of my jeans, they just care whether or not I feel good in them. Once I stopped being restrained by numbers and started shopping to feel good, an unimaginable weight was lifted from my shoulders – like I was back in control and could enjoy all the comfort that went alongside throwing the size guide out of the window.

The problem with the high street (although a fundamental problem within the whole of the fashion industry,) is that there’s no apparent standard of sizing; they all make it up as they go along. You can be comfortably one size in one shop and two sizes larger in another – and even within one store find yourself flitting between three different categories. How can you put pressure on yourself to be a certain size, when the retailers can’t even make their mind up what that size should be?

A couple of years ago I bought a pleated midi skirt from Topshop and loved it so much that I went back and bought it in two other colours. All three were identical in size and design, the only noticeable difference being the shade of fabric; when I placed them next to eachother, having felt like I’d accidentally bought a smaller size in one, the difference between the three skirts was around two inches. TWO INCHES. All three were a size 16, but the difference between them was almost laughable. It’s no wonder women can find themselves feeling awful about having to size up when there’s absolutely no consistency.

My wardrobe spans a spectrum of five different sizes: from a UK 12 to a UK 20.

I’ve learned to ignore the label and go by visual cues when shopping in store, while online often sees me picking out a minimum of two sizes and often having to explore a third. In the era of Covid (who knew we would ever miss those horribly lit fitting rooms,) I’ve found myself opting for a size bigger more and more – knowing it’s far easier to add a belt or wear it oversized than it is to feel uncomfortably tight or faff about with getting a refund. And you know what? Despite where I started, I really don’t care.

I no longer let the label in my clothes define me or impact me in any way, and it’s allowed me to enjoy fashion in the way it’s intended: for helping me to look good, feel great and express myself every single day.

In a world where societal labels and old fashioned categories are pushed aside, maybe it’s about time we did the same for physical ones too.

SHOP THE LOOK

Zara Midi Dress | £55.00 | SIMILAR HERE
ASOS Black Flat Shoes | £28.00 | SIMILAR HERE
Marks & Spencer Bowler Bag | £39.50 | LINK
Oasis Biker Jacket | £150.00 | SIMILAR HERE

READ THIS: HOW TO SHOP ZARA IF YOU’RE CURVY

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7 Comments

  1. October 21, 2020 / 9:58 pm

    Dear Haley, I have been enjoying your posts for many months and they are always fun and entertaining not. However, you need to face the harsh facts double face you are obese! Obesity is a very serious complication and risk factor for many, many additional diseases including COVID-19! You need to lose weight! Enough about body positivity. This is about your health, and about a disease free future for you

    • hayleyhalluk
      Author
      October 22, 2020 / 8:22 am

      Dear Ellen. Please kindly take your opinions and shove them up your backside. My body is not your business. My health is not your business. Who are you to decide what is healthy and what is not? Who are you to tell me what to do for the good of my future? I am healthy, active, strong and have a clean bill of health – always have done. Kindly take your ignorance and never return to my site; it’s not intended for single minded, arrogant and rude people like yourself. It’s a safe space free from judgement, and you’re not welcome.

  2. Kathy L
    October 23, 2020 / 9:52 am

    Dear Hayley. I regularly read your blog though have never commented. I enjoy your writing style and love the articles you write from fashion to skin care to general thoughts. That first comment was unnecessarily unkind and intrusive. How you look is your business. I think you look lovely. Stay well x

    • hayleyhalluk
      Author
      October 26, 2020 / 9:01 am

      Thanks so much Kathy – for your kind words and continued support 🙂

  3. October 24, 2020 / 8:01 pm

    I think you look absolutely amazing in your images and I have some very unpolite words which I would love to say to Ellen above, but do not want to sully your post.

    You look beautiful and I couldn’t agree more with your content!

    Danielle xx
    https://www.thereluctantblogger.co.uk/

    • hayleyhalluk
      Author
      October 26, 2020 / 9:02 am

      Thank you so much Danielle : ) And for your kind words, frequent comments and general support. It means a lot x

  4. Kate
    November 17, 2020 / 12:08 pm

    I agree, high street clothes sizes are so scattergun no matter what size you are! I was a size 16 after my son was born and finding jeans was an absolute nightmare. I used to detest that hot and sweaty feeling in the changing rooms when I couldn’t squeeze into yet another pair. I’ve since lost weight as a by-product of falling in love with running and I’m around a size 10-12 now but the issue of sizing still persists. Now I know to stick to one place for jeans (New Look, amazing jeans) as their size 12 fits me perfectly. some places I’m a small, others a medium. One of my Nike running tops fits me perfectly and is a large! It really makes no sense. If you let the numbers or sizes define you then it’s a shit place to be. The most important thing is to be happy and healthy and feel good in yourself, whatever that size may be.

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