Left: Cover of Marie France Coaching Rondes. Right: 2 page spread showing larger sized models wearing dresses

|| 7 July 2016

French Clothing Sizes

Madame Figaro magazine recently discussed difficulty of large-size women finding clothing in France.

“Une difficulté quotidienne" A never-ending challenge. That’s what Madame Figaro magazine in a 5 July 2016 article called the larger-size woman’s search for fashions that fit in French shops.

In the previous Nouvelles about the Marie France Coaching Rondes style guide for large-size women, I mentioned this difficulty.

The point this recent Madame Figaro article is making is that shops in France generally still do not stock size 44 or larger — and when they do, it is in much smaller quantities than smaller sizes. For this reason, women size 44 or larger must search online for clothing.

How large is size 44 in France? This would be clothing that would fit a woman whose bust measurement was 94-97 centimeters (37 − 38 inches), waist 78-81 cm (30.7 − 31.8 inches) and hips 103 − 106 cm (40.5 − 41.7 inches).

Of course, in both the UK and the USA, the size given on the label of one brand will not fit the same size body as the same size on the label of another brand. I'm sure most of you have found this to be too true. But generally today, a French size 44 is considered to equate to USA 14 and a UK 16.

What sizes are French women today? The figures given by the Madame Figaro article are given below. If I understand the article correctly, this would be all adult women of French nationality, youngest to oldest.

Size 36 (USA 6, UK 8) 6.4 %

Size 38 (USA 8, UK 10) 14.6 %

Size 40 (USA 10, UK 12) 19.5 %

Size 42 (USA 12, UK 14 ) 18.5%

Size 44 (USA 14, UK 16) 14.5 %

Size 46 (USA 16, UK 18) 9.8 %

Those percentage above add up to 83.3 %. So we assume that the remaining 16.7 percent are those très petite Parisiennes who wear Size 34 (USA 4, UK 6) or smaller.

To add some perspective, according to the article, currently 22 % of French women are 1m59 (5 ft. 3.5 in) or less. And only 5.8% are taller than 1m75 (5 ft 9 in). So about 72 % or three-quarters of French women are between 5 ft 4 in and 5 ft 9 in. in height.

In the past, the fact that larger size clothes were difficult to find, served to encourage French women to stay slim. But now that larger sizes are becoming more available, especially online, perhaps that is another reason why French women are not as slim as they previously were.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

Image left: Marie France Coaching Rondes cover. Image right: pages 44 and 45