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Are you a 10-12? the psychological reasons why we like to be inbetween sizes

The average dress size in Ireland is a size 13. The average size that most women would like to be is a size 11.

Never heard of those sizes? Well that's because we usually call them 12-14 and 10-12, it's generally only people on either end of the dress sizing scale who settle on a single number to describe themselves, the size eights and the size 26s, although the latter generally only say it when it is retrospective and they are featuring on an ad for a slimming organisation.

Part of the reason that most of us cannot settle on a single number dress size is because sizes vary from brand to brand and indeed even within brands.

However there is more to it than simple vagaries of pattern dimension.

If clothes were really just about clothes, trying them on would be purely about the shape and fit, but there is far more to clothes than clothes.

Fabric, colour, shape, style all have role to play in how what we wear makes us feel, and so too does size because whilst dress sizes have something to do with the size of dresses, and trousers and tops, they have just as much to do with our state of mind.

A study published last year in the Journal of Consumer Psychology looked at the effects of what is often referred to as "vanity sizing" where companies deliberately make clothes slightly bigger than the size indicates, so a pair of trousers that is labelled 32 inch waist might in fact measure 35inches.


Not surprisingly if two garments were identically sized but differently labelled the one where the customer could choose the smaller size was more popular.

Quite simply a smaller dress size increased customer self-esteem, a larger dress size decreased it and importantly for the marketing and sales departments, negative feelings transferred onto the brand and reflected in sales.

We have a lot invested in small things, the details that we know aren't important in that famous greater scheme often feel important in the smaller scheme we mostly inhabit.

A day that starts out quite well can end up a bit sad when every visit to a changing room ends in 360 degree mirror horror, you could happily have gone to your grave without knowing about that backfat.

What date is it? Can you get water retention in your shoulder blades?

But then a crapola day can become a little sweeter when you fit into a size 12.

The dress might be heinous but who cares when it's size 12? That's nearly a size 11.