A fashion-forward computer programmer aims to relieve the misery of thousands of women with an app that works out their best clothes size match among the wildly varying high street store sizes.
The Guardian reports that Anna Powell-Smith was so enraged with the disparity among fashion brands that she collected sizing statistics from a range of stores, including Next, Whistles, M&S and Topshop. She then crafted them into a data visualisation to help women find their best fit at different shops.
The app, for the UK and US, allows you to input measurements for your bust, waist and hips in centimetres or inches. It works by mapping your vital statistics on an interactive graph that sizes you up against a host of brands. It even suggests which size at which shop is likely to be your perfect fit.
I gave the What Size Am I? app a whirl. For the shops I visit regularly, the results were extremely accurate and matched what I've discovered to be true from many years of painful trial and error. After checking out some of the other brands, I also now know to avoid Banana Republic if I want to forgo a changing room meltdown.
"The data I collected confirms that sizing is indeed madness," Powell-Smith wrote in The Guardian. "In the UK, a size 16 at Jaeger has a bust of 108cm, waist of 88cm and hips of 114cm. A size 16 at Banana Republic has a bust of 98cm, waist of 77cm and hips of 103cm. That's a 4-inch difference, and it's not unusual."
I know it's in the fashion industry's nature to be vague, inconsistent and non-committal (otherwise it would be too easy and we'd all be fashionable), but its failure to grasp basic numeracy is baffling. It should not have taken me the time and effort it has to discover that I'm smaller at Reiss than at Topshop, smaller at Topshop than at Zara, and that if I buy a top from French Connection, I'll need one size, but if I buy a dress, I'll need the next size up.I love fashion, but I'm not a shopper by nature. I take active displeasure in spending hours squished behind a skimpy curtain in a musty, overcrowded room with no natural light, taking on and off garments of clothing, most of which don't fit.
Unlike with technology, where the number of GHz, MB and megapixels actually mean something and give us an accurate idea of what we're buying, up until now, there's been no exact science to help women negotiate fashion sizing.
"Really, fashion and programming should have a natural affinity," Powell-Smith writes. "At their best, both are about craftsmanship, invention and delight in the new. So, fashion firms, don't turn up your noses at the nerdy, [...] seek out the geeks."
What do you make of the fashion industry's struggle with numbers? Give the app a try and let us know what you think in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.