I think we all know that women’s clothes sizing is all over the place. You might be a classic size in one store, but then go to every other shop, and you could find your dress size varies across 4 different sizes. But women’s sportswear sizing is even more of a gamble compared with normal street wear sizes.

Over the years I’ve been a variety of sizes. I think my wardrobe had, until recently, up to 7 sizes in it. Ok, so the size 10 was probably limited to 1 dress from my 6th form days that my mum made for a dinner party and I loved the simplicity of it. I don’t think I’ll get get back into that again (especially the size 10 of 25 years ago). And as I’ve lost weight, I’ve got rid of my larger clothes, only keeping 1 item so I can compare the size difference once I’m at my goal weight.

sportswear vs normal street clothing sizes

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The issue with womenswear sizing isn’t just for larger women, it can also be an issue for slim women. After all, women have curves, and everyone’s shape is different. So to find clothes that fit it’s a case of finding the shops’ fits that work for you. For me that generally means M&S, or Sainsbury’s. Both are a little more generous in fit, although bottom half is much harder to find due to being pear shaped. Tops I usually find are too baggy around the bust, but then struggle over my hips. So Monsoon are good, and sometimes White Stuff, but it depends on the cut. I don’t want skin tight or cropped tops.

Generally I’ve never been that concerned about the size label in my clothes, as long as they fit. I’m now moving gradually into the next size down and it feels good. People say it takes about 1 stone to move down a dress size. Try 2 ½ stone loss for me to move down.

I can live with normal everyday sizing issues, because there’s plenty to choose from. But women’s sportswear is my nemesis.

I don’t wear leggings. They’re unflattering and too tight. Having big legs, and one calf bigger than the other due to that one having had a DVT and ending up larger, that limits my choice. Even jogging trousers are quite often skinny sit over the calves. Or cropped short which looks silly when you’ve got one puffy ankle too. I use bootcut or straight cut yoga pants, so they don’t tend to be quite as tight over the bottom and thighs. My favourites have been from Sainsbury’s. Matalan’s versions are a good fit, but shiny fabric is never good, and they’re too short, they flap around my ankle. Sizewise, because they make streetwear too, I find they’re about right compared to their normal sizing.

M&S* is way out for tops. I think the bottom half is better. But tops – their slouch t-shirts I’m wearing are 2 -3 sizes bigger than what I’m wearing in their normal clothing ranges. And they’re not really baggy on me either. How can their sizing be so out? How can I be a 14-16 in normal tops there (for non stretch tops), but in jersey sports t-shirts I’m comfortable in a size 20-22. Insane.

As for proper branded sportswear. Usually a size 14 ends up being a L or XL. And often those sizes come up small. Back in the day when I used to swim and play squash most days, I was a size 12, but sportswear I had to buy a 14 or 16. It doesn’t make you feel good. It could cause people who aren’t confident in themselves to overwork themselves in order to fit the size they want, even though their normal dress size is 2 sizes less.

Nike now do their own curve range from size 20-22 to 28-30. I wonder if their sizing has become more realistic inch wise compared with non sportswear clothes of the equivalent size.

Maybe it’s just me and my shape that means I tend to have to wear a bigger size than maybe my measurements suggest on size guides. But I think stores should make their sportswear ranges fit with their normal clothes sizing. It would be a lot easier to know what size to buy.

Until then I’ll continue just buying what I think feels right and fits right. And hopefully I’ll be able to drop another dress size to get to a more healthy weight and shape.

Do you have sizing issues when buying womens sportswear?

1 Comment

  1. You’ve got it right. The sizes are nuts for the small sizes too. I’m an 8 or 6 or 10 depending where I shop. Sports clothes, from the same shop, I’ll be an S, XS or XXS (which I don’t believe should even exist, it’s ridiculous and fits the same as size 8). I reckon a lot of it is to get younger girls buying adult clothes that are just more expensive and require taxation. If you’re 12 and the kids sizes stop at 12, you have to buy a ladies XXS at 50% more cost. Really annoys me.

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