Shopping for trousers seems like a straightforward task, but getting the correct fit isn’t always that easy!
In the past, if women wanted new clothes, they went to a dressmaker, got measured and had perfectly fitting clothes made for them. Or they measured themselves and made their own clothes.
These days we have the luxury of numerous clothing shops selling everything we could possibly need, but shopping for correctly fitting clothes is often not as easy as we’d perhaps expect.
In theory, we have a standard clothing size scheme which manufacturers use to produce clothes of certain sizes, which should help consumers know their size and buy the perfect fit accordingly.
The standard sizes used varies worldwide, but in the UK, for example, clothes are sold according to sizes such as:
However, although these sizes are supposedly the standard sizes used in UK clothing, the reality is very different. Once upon a time, clothing manufacturers may have stayed within the sizing charts provided, but these days they vary considerably. For example, a pair of size 16 trousers in one shop may have a 34 inch waist, but in another shop a pair of trousers labelled as a size 16 may actually have a 36 inch waist. Not surprisingly, this makes it very difficult for consumers.
Different Types of Fit
With standard sizes being far from standard in their measurements, the task of shopping for a pair of trousers can become more onerous than it need be. Apart from the differing waist measurements, there are also different length measurements to contend with, plus different styles of trouser. For example, some of the commonly sold trouser styles include:
- Slim leg
- Wide leg
- Cropped leg or Capri
- Straight leg
Where trousers are cut into different styles such as these, the style also often influences the waist measurement. For example, if you’re choosing a pair of wide leg trousers they may be cut wider on the waist than a pair of slim leg trousers. Add to this the fact that not everyone who’s deemed to be a size 16 has exactly the same measurements throughout their body as someone else who’s a 16, it’s no wonder it’s hard to get the right fit.
Taking and Using Measurements
The best way of knowing your exact size is to go back to the good old fashioned method of using a tape measure.
To measure your waist, place the tape measure around your natural waist and keep the tape taut.
To measure your hips, stand with your feet together and put the tape around the fullest part of your bottom, at the top of your leg. This should be at about 8 inches/20cm below your natural waist.
To measure your inside leg, take a measurement from the top of the inside leg at the crotch, to your ankles, or the length where you normally wear your trousers.
Once you know your measurements, you’ll have a much better guide to the size you require. Shops generally list the length of trousers on the item labels, but if they don’t you’ll probably find a size guide on their website or can ask in the store.
Likewise, it’s not always clear with women’s trousers what the waist measurements are of garments (which seems slightly mad, as they do at least offer this sort of guidance for men’s trousers), but don’t be afraid to take a tape measure and measure items yourself.
It’s always worth asking if individual shops have sizing guides available; if they do, they should list the exact measurements used to represent the sizes of clothes they’re selling.
Another good place to look is their website, as some shops (such as Boden) do list exact waist measurements of trousers in their online listings.
Likewise, clothing sold through printed catalogues sometimes offers more details about exact measurements.
There’s nothing like putting on a good, perfect fitting pair of trousers and, by actively knowing and using your own measurements when choosing trousers, you’ve got a far better chance of achieving this!