Paris Shopping: Just My Size – or Almost


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If you plan on shopping in Paris, you might find the system of sizing for shoes and clothes to be confusing. I’ve ranted in the past about the myth of a global culture when it comes to the consumer. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking PAL and SECAM vs. NTSC, Meters vs. Yards, Pints vs. Liters, different gauges for railroad tracks, shoes and clothing sizes, the concept of global is quite simply far from reality.

British, French, Italian, US and Japanese clothing sizes are all different from one another – add to that the ‘Euro’ size and you’ve got such a mishmash of sizing charts that you’re best bet for getting the right size is simply by judging the size by what ‘looks right’. Here is where your ‘significant other’ if you have one with you on your trip – can be really helpful. Otherwise, ask the sales clerk – and you would be very surprised to know that European sales clerks are quite good at ‘sizing you up’ in every sense of the word. They can tell you your correct size – whether you want to know or not. And I’m talking right down to lingerie – and that goes for both male and female sales clerks.

Not much escapes the French eye for measuring you up.
And about those size conversion charts? Don’t trust them. I can tell you from personal experience that a Size 6 translates to a Size 38 in French skirts, dresses and trousers (for women) and a Size 42 in Italy would equal a Size 38 or a Size 6 in the US.

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Dress pattern makers may argue with me on this but if from personal experience, I can guarantee you that if you think you can walk into any shop in Paris and find a Size 34 – Good luck!! Even Size 36 has not always available (that is a REAL Size 36). For most of us, this is definitely NOT our problem! At the other end of the spectrum, you can find some shops in Paris for more ample women i.e. grand tailles (Rue Alesia and Avenue General LeClerc in the 14th arrondissement, for starters). The bottom line is that you will probably not find a dress that is an EXACT fit for comparable sizes in different countries – for the simple reason that peoples’ bodies grow a little differently depending on where you live. For example, I’m convinced that although my roots are Anglo-Saxon, my body was built ‘Made in Italy’. Italian clothes fit better than all others – from head to toe.

Meanwhile, whatever your body type, good French boutiques usually have a seamstress on hand or can refer you to a tailor in the neighborhood to make adjustments in a timely fashion. In some cases, depending upon the amount of your purchase, the adjustments will be thrown in at no charge. (A little negotiation here is not out of line).

I think that UK Size 10 equals a Size 6 in the US (but I may be off target on that one). But you get the picture. No two size charts are the same.

Add to that, some of the French chains have made the Size 36s fit more like a US Size 6 than a Size 4.
One chain in particular that’s doing this is Carroll. Trust your gut instincts about sizing. Sales clerks can vary in ‘honesty’ about how well an outfit fits you. Bring a friend if you can.