News | Monday, 6th January 2014

MMU research reveals clothes sizing confusion

Just 10% of women can correctly identify their body shape

JUST 10% of women in the UK can correctly identify their body shape, according to new research carried out by academics at Manchester Metropolitan University.

On top of this, one quarter believe that their body shape does not fit in with and of the “traditional” body types such as hourglass, pear or apple.

The study, which was commissioned by, used state of the art body scanning technology to understand women’s body shapes.

They found that the most common shape was actually a straight up-and-down silhouette known as the “rectangle”.

Rectangle, not hourglass

Rectangle shaped women have a relatively undefined waist, as seen on celebrities such as Kim Cattrall.

As women get older their shape moves more towards this average, and 63% of the women scanned fell into this category. More than 80% of women over the age of 56 were found to have bust, shoulder and hip measurements which were the same – the sign of a rectangular body shape.

Most of the women (26%) believed they had a glamorous hourglass figure, but this was only significantly visible in women aged 18 to 35, where 30% of the participants had this body shape. For women over 35, however, this figure fell to just four per cent.

Senior Lecturer in Fashion Technology Dr Simeon Gill, who led the research, said: “The research so far has shown that a woman’s body size, shape and posture can change - sometimes substantially - as a result of the ageing process. The joint MMU and study confirmed this, and also highlighted that shape change occurs not only into terms of posture and body shape but also in terms of circumferential measurement differences between the front and back of the body in the waist region.”

Sizing frustration

Another common frustration for women unearthed by the survey was having to spend money on adjusting a garment to get a more appropriate fit, based on the difference in their body shape to that the clothes are cut to.

Nearly half (42%) of those questioned named this as a major bugbear, with 63% of those surveyed also stating they would like more help and advice from retailers when shopping to fit their size and shape.

More than 3,000 women aged between 18 and 82 were scanned for the study, using the FFIT body scanning system which classified them into one of several recognisable categories depending on the size of key body points.

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