New survey reveals a woman’s dress size may change 31 times in her life

Finding the right fit can be affected by major life milestones like getting married and entering middle age. Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hormonal and emotional changes, not to mention holiday excesses, are frequently the cause of weight fluctuation, but a recent survey conducted by Fits Me, a UK-based retail software solutions company, has revealed that a woman’s dress size can actually change up to a staggering 31 times in her life. Men can experience a size change up to 24 times.

According to the survey, which polled 2,000 people (1,000 women and 1,000 men), 25 per cent of female respondents said they increased size after moving in with a partner (“happy weight”), 30 per cent said they were bigger post-pregnancy, and 40 per cent noticed an increase over the winter. Decreases spiked pre-wedding and post-breakup.

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Men were also susceptible to “happy weight” gain with 15 per cent noticing an increase after moving in with a partner, while nearly 25 per cent said the loss of a loved one caused a size decrease. One-third of male respondents chalked their size fluctuations up to stress.

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Dr. Joey Shulman, founder of the Shulman Weight Loss Clinics, finds these figures astounding.

“That’s a lot higher than I would expect,” she says. “Normally, my clients report a dress size change six or seven times in their lives, so that seems high. But a lot of weight loss programs focus on quick fix solutions that aren’t sustainable, which means these numbers could make sense.”

Shulman echoes the survey’s findings of a post-pregnancy weight spike in women, but also notes that two more milestones in a woman’s life tend to lead to a size increase: turning 40 and menopause.

“Men will go through a major change in their 50s, and the ‘dad bod’ tends to start when they enter their 40s,” she says. “They go through the same hormonal changes as women.”

She tells her clients to allow for a five-pound fluctuation in weight, but not more. (A full dress size change involves a difference of 10 pounds.)

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The intent of the survey was to prove how sizing, which is rarely consistent from brand to brand, needs to be more regulated to instill confidence and trust in the customer.

“Vanity sizing [the act of putting a smaller size on a larger cut garment] means there is little consistency from retailer to retailer, making it difficult for customers to find the perfect fit online,” says Stuart Simms, CEO of Fits Me. “Add to this shoppers’ increasing preference for personalized fit, and the flaws in the sizing system are clear to see.”
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“Ultimately, whether your clothes size changes or not, the important thing is feeling confident in yourself — and getting the fit right is a key part of this.”

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