I’m midsize and tried high street jeans from M&S, George and H&M… my size ranged from a 12 – 18, here’s what worked | The Sun

Outside is cold and miserable, and the last thing I want to do is leave the cosiness of my living room for the high street, but I’m in desperate need of a new pair of jeans.

Last year, I pounded the pavements for Fabulous in an attempt to find the perfect pair. After trying on endless options in shop changing rooms, I found that, when it comes to sizing, there’s not a lot of consistency.

In fact, it’s all a bit of a guessing game.  It’s no surprise to me that a new poll by NatWest has revealed jeans are the second most likely to be returned item by Brits. 

So, this time, I’ve decided to steer clear of poorly lit, cramped changing rooms, and instead shop for jeans from the comfort of my sofa.

In theory, it should be pretty straightforward. After all, brand’s websites have their own size guides. But, in practice, some use waist measurements, some more traditional dress sizing, and others a generic small, medium, large, short, regular and long. 

I'm midsize and spent an afternoon on my laptop ordering eight pairs of straight-leg jeans using these guides, placing the responsibility on retailers to decide what size they believe is best for my body. Here’s how I got on…


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What’s My Size?

First up, I need to establish my size with each brand.

Half of the retailers I want to buy from use a simple, generic size chart, which asks for my waist and hip measurements (35in and 41in, respectively), in order to direct me to my “correct” size.

The other half uses a more advanced method called Fit Analytics – a series of questions about everything from height and weight, the shape of your stomach (flat, average, curvier), hip shape (straighter, average, wider), age, and how you would like your jeans to fit.

It then goes on to ask what brands of jeans you currently wear and what size you take in them, before calculating what it believes to be the best size for you, giving you a percentage of how well they believe they will fit. 

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Brands with Fit Analytics 


Much to my dismay, they don’t fasten

ASOS Design ’90s Straight Jeans with Raw Hem in Mid-blue, £30, W32/L30

The size: The questionnaire reveals my size as waist 32in, leg 30in, with a 72% chance I’ll be happy with that size – a figure that doesn’t give me confidence.

The try-on: Much to my dismay, they don’t fasten. Upon checking my order, I realise I actually ordered a 30in waist and 32in leg, instead of the other way round!

Luckily, I pay for ASOS Premium, which means I get free next-day delivery, but it does make me think that if I’d done that with any other brand, I’d have had to pay the delivery fee twice.

So take two… With the correct size in hand, I try them on – but I still can’t do them up. Turns out I’m in the 28% not happy with the size suggested.


Slim-fit Straight Jeans in Blue, £39.90, W30

The size: According to the brand’s My Size Assist questions – which only ask for my height and weight, rather than my actual measurements – I have a 30in waist, and it’s 92% sure about the fit.

But I’m not convinced I’ll squeeze into this size, as I haven’t been a 30in waist since pre-pandemic!

The try-on: Telling myself to trust the process, I tentatively put them on to find that, out of all eight pairs, these are the best fit – tight around the waist without being restrictive, and they hug everywhere else like a dream, too.

What a result for a size I would never have gone for myself!

Marks & Spencer 

M&S Collection Sienna Straight in Medium Blue, £22.50, size 14S

The size: I use the site’s Fit Finder tool, which after inputting my stats, tells me I’m a 77% match for a 14 short.

Marks & Spencer is one of the few high-street brands that also offers short, regular or long leg lengths, which helps those of us who, like me at 5ft 4in, often find length is an issue. 

The try-on: The size-14 short jeans fit really well, not only round my waist but on my legs, too. Success!


High-Rise Straight Fit in Blue, £35.99, size 14

The size: I’ve never owned a pair of Zara jeans, having struggled with the sizing any time I’ve shopped in store, so I’m intrigued. The online analytics compute that I have a 90% chance of being a size 14.

But it also offers a generic size chart, and when I tot up my measurements on that, I’m leaning more towards a 16. I go with what the technology tells me and buy the size 14.

The try-on: My hopes are dashed when I can barely squeeze into these.

After a good five minutes of trying to do up the zip, I manage to get it about three-quarters of the way, before giving up. Maybe I should have gone with my measurements over the AI tool. 

Brands with size charts


501 Original Cropped in Troy Horse Blue, £95, W31/L28

The size: I’m only asked for my height and weight before being told I should be a 31in waist and a 28in leg.

After an unsuccessful real-life trip to a Levi’s store recently, where I couldn’t find my size at all, I’m pleased to see the online range of sizes is better.

The try-on: I have a tough time getting into these as they have buttons rather than a zip – and it’s a lot of effort trying to do them up.

Once I’ve managed it, though, they’re so rigid that sitting down is uncomfortable, even if the fit is very nice. Perhaps they’re ones to break in over time. 


Mom High-Waist Jeans in Dark Blue, £35.99, size 16

The size: According to the Mango size guide, which uses your hip and waist measurements, I should be a size-18 waist, but hip size 14.

This is incredibly confusing and frustrating. What am I supposed to do with this information? In the end, I decide to go down the middle and opt for a 16 – and hope for the best. 

The try-on: As it turns out, it’s a good decision, as they fit around my waist. Unfortunately, they’re just a little bit too baggy on the thighs for me.

George At Asda  

Skye High-Rise Straight Jeans in Black Mid-wash, £15, size 14 

The size: With the cost of living crisis on everyone’s mind, £15 for a pair of jeans is a total bargain, so I’m willing these to work! According to the size chart, my measurements sit between a 14 and a 16, but I opt for the 14 as that’s what I am generally. 

The try-on: These are slightly roomy, which considering I was an inch over the waist measurement for this size, surprises me.

They are really, really comfortable, although a bit baggy on the leg, which I think is due to the fact I have more weight around my stomach than my thighs.


True To You Slim High Jeans in Denim Blue, £39.99, Large

The size: My last port of call is a brand I usually steer clear of when it comes to jeans, having never found a pair that fit me in store.

To my surprise though, I actually find H&M’s size guide more straightforward than others brands’, as it gives a larger range of measurements for each size. I measure out at a large, which according to H&M, works out the same size as a 16-18. 

The try-on: Strangely, considering this is the biggest size I’ve ordered, they look the smallest. They just about fit – and that’s only because they have some stretch in them. They are definitely not the comfiest, either.

The Verdict

I was sceptical about ordering jeans online, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised – even if I have varied from a size 12 to a 16-18!

Using Fit Analytics meant that I felt more confident in the sizes I was choosing to buy, while faffing around with a tape measure for the other brands filled me with less certainty.

That said, once I was able to decipher the measurement charts, jeans I bought using them tended to fit better than those using Fit Analytics. 

Despite this, Professor Carolyn Mair, a behavioural psychologist, believes technology is the way forward. “Virtual try-ons, 3D and scanned imaging methods are likely to become more mainstream in the future,” she says.

“These could address specific body measurements beyond waist and inside leg. For example, hip-to-waist and body shape, including large or smaller bottoms, and narrower or wider hips.” But there’s a downside “Making jeans for specific measurements is likely to cost more as they can’t be mass produced,” she warns.

As well as using technology, there is also the old-fashioned method of tailoring your jeans to fit you. For instance, Levi’s, Zara and Uniqlo all offer mending services, where you can drop off your item to have the length or width of your jeans altered for a charge.

It’s definitely something to think about if you can never find the right fit. And it’s not all about size. As Lesley Torson, co-founder and buying director of denim store Trilogy says: “Look at the fabric content of the jeans you’re buying, as this will make more of an impact on the fit than you think.

"A rigid pair of jeans in 100% cotton will fit very differently from stretch denim. Depending on what your desired fit is, you may need to size up or down, which should be considered when buying online.”

So, while buying jeans online isn’t quite as scary as I first imagined it would be, you do need to be prepared. However, the whole process meant I managed to avoid the rain-filled high street – and made me a little more confident when ordering.

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For now, I’m keeping hold of the Uniqlo pair – they actually fit me perfectly. Mission accomplished. 

Abby’s top tips 

If a brand offers both Fit Analytics and a size chart, check both for a clearer picture of what size to order.

Don’t forget that while buying jeans online may be just a click of a button, if they don’t fit you, you’ll have the less convenient problem of having to return them. And some brands, including Zara, only offer free returns to store. 

Some brands ask for measurements in inches, and others in centimetres – so make a note of both! Your waist measurement 

is the smallest part of your torso, usually just above your belly button, and your hip measurement is the widest point of your hips.

Measure yourself every time you need to buy a new pair of jeans – think of it like getting a new bra. Your weight can often fluctuate, so what you were six months ago may not be what you are now.


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