36-24-36, Baby Got Back-The Confusion of Sizing

This post is by Christina of Profresh Style

You’re staring at a hang tag on a pair of jeans. What do you see? Size 27 or is it size 4 or how about size 40? How do you even begin to understand if this is the correct size?

Most premium denim uses a sizing system based on waist measurements in inches, like a 26. Whether you’re coming from the US or the UK the sizing seems to be all over the place. The biggest reason is because denim is coming from all over the world. If you’re a 4 in the U.S., it doesn’t always mean you are 4 in the U.K, and with premium denim, it’s a whole other size system. Here’s a simple way to break it down on how to determine what size you no matter where you are from.

US Size 1 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14
US Size 2 24 25/26 26/27 28 28/29 30 32 34
UK 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Italy 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
France 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44
Germany 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48

*sometimes varies from manufacturer to manufacturer

When buying denim, always check for the label whether online or in-store. If it’s made in another country, especially any in Europe, keep in mind your size may be not the correct size you’re used to. Europeans cut slimmer which means you should purchase a size up to give room and alter from there.
Another tip to get a more accurate size, is to measure your waist and hips. This will help you determine what your size transferred over to in another country’s manufacturer. (This is more important if you’re shopping, say from Europe and you’re more familiar with the sizing 36, 48, etc. and you’re buying jeans in the US).
Here are great examples of international denim brands:

Acne Denim -Swedish
Cheap Monday -Swedish
PRPS -Japanese denim
Pray for Mother Nature -Japan Inspired
Kova & T -Japanese denim
Notify jeans -France

What’s your favorite denim brand? Do you enjoy brands from overseas?
Happy Shopping!



  1. August 25, 2010 / 10:30 am

    Only if she’s 5’2″!!! Haha

    I do a lot of shopping once more, yay for me – but lately sizing is more varied than it used to be (and it’s generally smaller).

    I don’t trust sizes. I don’t even trust that if something fits me it even flatters. I don’t buy clothes online anymore, and I always take 2 to 3 of everything in the dressing rooms.

    Especially since I’m no longer shopping places where the sales ladies grab more sizes for me. I want to be able to afford that service again!

    If I’m confused about sizing, and since I’m IN store and don’t want to Google on my phone or something, 😉 – I take a step back, hold it up, and judge visually. Then I grab that size that looks right, one up, one down.

    Otherwise others could memorize the parts of your chart that relate to them, but I still suggest trying other sizes.

    Even if something seems to fit, I often grab another size to make sure there isn’t a better fit, or perhaps see if there’s room for me in a lower size lol, concerned about fitting in it in the future, as I’m doing a good job of losing weight!

    Everyone should be like this, I think.

  2. August 25, 2010 / 10:31 am

    OMG! I know the feeling. Every time I go jean shopping, I always have problem with sizing because it always fits weird in the back. I usually put a belt on to make it look okay. I think I need to try some new brands to find the best fit.

  3. August 25, 2010 / 11:12 am

    I find that Citizens of Humanity are consistent with their sizing whether I’m trying on jeans, pants, or skirts. There’s nothing worse than buying a pair of jeans in your size and then finding out that the sizing varies WITHIN a brand (this has happened to me on numerous occasions with 7 For All Mankind — I have jeans from them in 26 and 29, go figure).

    p.s. Awesome reference to “Baby Got Back.” I was listening to “Brick House” last night, and they have a 36-24-36 reference, too!

  4. August 25, 2010 / 11:15 am

    I’m personally a size connundrum myself. I bought a size 26 jeans the other day, and I’m typically in a size 28 when it comes to premium denim, and for denim with “regualar” US sizing I’m a 4. The only brand that I know for sure to always got a size up in is Cheap Monday fitting slim doesn’t even begin to explain it!

  5. August 25, 2010 / 11:18 am

    @ella- I love what you said. It truly is right. You do have to set aside time to try on all kinds of sizes. I guess I tried to simplify things by creating a breakdown for international sizes but it’s true…you’ll never know until you try it on.

    @Paulette-That problem is due to the rise. and you probably got junk in the trunk like me. There’s that gap in the back? Ya that’s booty 😉 Find a denim that has a higher rise in the back and sits higher on the hips. You can still have the low rise if you choose to (say, you like the look or something) but having a higher rise in the back will prevent the gaping.

  6. August 25, 2010 / 11:34 am

    I had this happen to me when I bought a pair of JBrand skinnies. I am usually a size 28 but these fit me like a 24. Tight as hell! I was so disappointed ;-/

  7. August 25, 2010 / 1:15 pm

    This was incredibly helpful. I’ve looked at European denim sizing and, after trying to figure it out, have several times just given up. I feel so much more prepared now!!

    My fave denim is Current/Elliott (I feel kinda like a broken record on that, but it’s true). Before Martin+Osa went out of business I was a huge buyer of their denim as well – but now I have to ration it!!

    I’d love to try PRPS, but the price point sends me running in the opposite direction!!


  8. August 26, 2010 / 3:53 am

    i so know what you mean. there’s a stupid different between gap and everyone elses sizes ;[

  9. August 26, 2010 / 1:54 pm

    Oh well, buying a pair of jeans is not my idea of a relaxed shopping trip. Those sizes really are confusing… Great post!

  10. Christina H
    August 26, 2010 / 2:04 pm

    The UK conversions are way off – UK sizing runs at least two sizes larger than the corresponding US size. So if you’re a size 4 US, you’d be an 8 or 10 UK. There’s no way a US 8 could wear a UK 10.

  11. August 26, 2010 / 8:36 pm

    I’m from Australia and i wear a size 6 in jeans, which is equivalent to a 24inch. Brands I love would have to be Ksubi, Nobody & Bettina Liano. xx

  12. V.Hormazabal
    August 27, 2010 / 12:18 am

    The UK and French conversions are off, in french sizes the size 30 don´t exist, the size is 34 and up (and maybe 32 in really really special brands).

    Like reference, I wear 25/26 in premium jeans, 0-2 US, 6-8 UK, 34-36 french size

  13. Jennine
    August 27, 2010 / 9:19 am

    i lived in the UK for three years, and always wore a 10, but in the US i wear a 4. then in germany, i wore a 36. oh yeah, in topshop, i wear a 12 or a 14. forget about australian sizes, do they go off uk? because i’m waaaay off there.

    sizes are all over the place. so it’s just as well just to eyeball clothes an see what fits.

  14. August 28, 2010 / 1:34 pm

    @V.Hormazabal/Christina H.- Hey guys! Thanks for the adjustments to the U.K. sizes! I’ve yet to master the difference! This was my best comparison. It helps to get tips from people actually from these locations!!

    @Lauren-Great tips for Australian denim. I’m not familiar with those brands but I’m definitely looking into them!

    @Nathalie-Ya! I totally agree! Denim wasn’t always a joyful trip for me either! It wasn’t until I really learned about denim, that I got excited about finding a great pair! Go with someone or go somewhere, where they really know their stuff! It will help you from getting discouraged!

    @Midtown Girl-Ya J. brand is a tough fit because it’s tight-stitched seamed down the leg therefore making me feel like my legs are wrapped in tight-ass saran wrap lol. However, they are branching out in different fits so that’s definitely a good thing!

    Thanks guys for commenting and such good feedback! Definitely appreciate that!

  15. Emma
    September 4, 2010 / 4:32 pm

    Sorry but your conversion is totally wrong. The correct conversion is:

    US 4 6 8 10
    UK 8 10 12 14
    French 36 38 40 42
    German 34 36 38 40
    Italian 40 42 44 46

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