But now a new Channel 5 documentary has uncovered the real reason some of us struggle to fit squeeze our way into a size 14 in one shop before slipping into a size 12 elsewhere.
Airing tonight on Channel 5, Shop Smart: Save Money enlisted the help of fashion experts to investigate exactly why our sizes vary so much across the high street.
Putting brands ASOS, Next, M&S, Topshop, H&M and Primark to the ultimate test, the television experiment had the three models – a size 8, a size 12 and a size 16 – try on a range of wardrobe staples.
On hand to help with the experiment, Leeds Arts University fashion programme leader Sam Hudson-Miles recommended that shoppers "look across the back" of a jacket or blazer to see if it's "pulling".
From smart blazers to simple white shirts, the production team at True North found that M&S items had the most generous fit whereas Topshop, H&M and Primark all had the smallest.
The investigation – which is intended to help shoppers spend wisely in the run up to Christmas – also revealed that high street sizes can vary by up to FOUR centimetres across the board.
While an ASOS size 16 has a bust measurement of 103cm, the show also found that a size 16 from Next is only 99cm in comparison.
Meanwhile, size 8 trousers from Topshop have waist measurement of 64.2cm which is 3.8cm less than H&M's equivalent size.
The investigation put the vast discrepancies down to the fact that there are no set legal guidelines for brands to follow when deciding their dress sizes.
Even though there are EU guidelines which brands can take into account, they are free to select their own measurements and determine their dress sizes.
However, the discrepancies in sizes came as no surprise to some of the brands.
A spokesperson for ASOS responded: "We aim to provide our customers with a frictionless experience that makes shopping with us as easy and as convenient as possible.
"Sizing is one of our top priorities and we work hard to ensure the fit is right every time."
As the retailer stocks a variety of different brands, ASOS has launched its "Fit Assistant" which uses customers' purchase history to help select their correct size.
Standard European Clothing Sizes
- Size 8: waist 68cm, hips 92cm, bust 84cm
- Size 10: waist 72cm, hips 96cms, bust 88cm
- Size 12: waist 76cm, hips 100cm, bust 92cm
- Size 14: waist 80cm, hips 104cm, bust 96cm
- Size 16: waist 88cm, hips 112cm, bust 104cm
After uncovering that H&M sizes comes up on the smaller side, the brand responded: "Following customer feedback, we are taking the steps to change our womenswear measurements to be in line with UK sizing, for example the previous measurements and fit of a size 12 will now be the measurements of a size 10.
"This will be a gradual process whereby customers will experience a transition period and are encouraged to use our sizing guides online or ask our store staff for advice when shopping."
Presented by Gaby Roslin and Fiona Phillips, this new Channel 5 series investigates the best value products on the market as well as offering consumers saving tips and tricks.
Shop Smart Save Money for Christmas airs tonight at 8pm on Channel 5
In even more fashion news, size 16 model Sonny Turner used to wear padding on her hips to look bigger and revealed being "fat makes me money" on Channel 5's Curvy Girls Stripped Bare.
And Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop launches first "size inclusive" clothing range – with all items available up to a size 44.
Plus this plus size blogger has hit back at trolls who told her to cover up by posting snap in bikini.
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