Dear Pull & Bear: Why Don’t your Clothes Fit Teen Girls?

pull and bear sizing

Today I wanted to have a little (okay, massive) rant about Pull & Bear sizing.

One of the super-fun things about children is their pesky insistence on growing every year. So, like millions of other Mums and Dads, I’m busy doing the rounds of clothes stores getting Flea her fresh summer wardrobe.

Flea is now 13.

She’s an active, healthy child of a normal weight, but puberty has happened, and this year she has very definite boobs, and hips. She’s shot up in height and is now 5 foot 5, with feet that are size 7. She eats like a horse, which tells me she’s probably got a bit more growing to do, still.

No problem, right? After all, I tell Flea, this is just a perfectly normal, natural process. So long as you’re eating well, and being active, your body will do exactly what it’s supposed to do.

Then we try and buy clothes.

Today’s teens don’t want to shop at Next or M&S or Gap. Those are very definitely “Mum shops” and my teen wouldn’t be caught dead inside their doors.

Instead, she wants clothes from Hollister and Pull & Bear. Sometimes she also wants clothes from Gucci and Balenciaga, but that’s a rant for another day.

So we ordered a range of shorts from Pull & Bear, which arrived just in time for our holiday.

Except they don’t fit.

Without exception, the shorts won’t fasten round Flea’s hips. They’re actually fine on the waist, but they’re clearly made for girls with slimmer hips and thinner thighs than my child. Note I said CHILD here.

My CHILD does not fit into the LARGEST size available in this style from Pull & Bear, a WOMEN’S fashion retailer.

There has to be something off with Pull & Bear sizing. Are they making clothes for women, or tiny monkeys doing circus acts?

Quite naturally Flea was dismayed when she realised the shorts were far too tight. We looked at the Pull & Bear sizing and Flea was distraught when she realised that she couldn’t fit into the largest size available (a 12).

It took me a good 30 minutes to talk her down from a fit of self-loathing and doubt. She’d never had reason to think about whether her body is “too big” before – but suddenly, she was starting to wonder.

Honestly, it was heartbreaking to see. I have a child who is perfectly healthy and active, and a normal weight for her height. She shouldn’t be upset by clothes that are simply NOT the right size.

I explained to Flea that:

  • Sometimes retailers just don’t get sizing right. As you get older you learn which shops to buy big, and where to buy small. But sometimes even the same retailer can’t be consistent (I’m looking at you, H&M). That’s why her Guess jeans are a size 10, but her Jack Wills jeans are a 12. Pull & Bear sizing clearly is on the smaller end of the scale.
  • Sometimes retailers cut their clothes with a particular body shape in mind, because that’s the customer they want to attract. And sometimes retailers are targeting women whose bodies give no indication of having gone through puberty…
  • As you get older you realise that you really don’t care about the label inside your clothes. You care that it fits, and it’s comfortable.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that Pull & Bear sizing seems to run small. After all, wasn’t Pull & Bear criticised last year when it was found that its clothing ranged from a Size XS (UK 4) to a Large (UK Size 10). How can a size 10 possibly be a large?

Where this gets tricky is when retailers have a primarily teenage customer base.  If you’re Pull & Bear or H&M, you’ve got a responsibility to make your clothing realistic in its sizing.

What message does it give a child who is barely into her teens that she’s already too wide for even the biggest of your clothes? Or if a child needs to wear a size 14 just to get your jeans past her hips, even if those jeans then swamp her waist and are far too long?

It’s horrible. Just horrible.

Tonight I took Flea on an emergency after-school shopping trip. We headed to New Look, where thankfully the jeans seem to be cut with a bit of stretch, so that they are comfortable and flattering to girls who are a bit curvier.

We’ve also ordered some shorts from Hollister, which again seems to cut a bit more generously, and has jeans that stretch a little where it’s needed.

I’d love to know your experiences of this and how you approach the issue with sensitive teens. Do you have experience of the Pull & Bear sizing issues? I don’t want Flea to buy into some retailer’s notion of what the “normal” body shape is. I want her to understand that a healthy body is the ideal body, and if a retailer can’t understand that, then you spend your hard-earned elsewhere.

Any tips?



10 thoughts on “Dear Pull & Bear: Why Don’t your Clothes Fit Teen Girls?”

  1. No tips I’m afraid, but just wanted to say how awful it was to read this! We’ve never bought anything in Pull & Bear, but have wandered round and admired their clothes.
    I’ve had a similar experience with my own daughter. My daughter is also 13 and almost as tall as Flea. She’s been through puberty too and has little boobs and a little bum, but no hips to speak of. She’s a ballet dancer, so has long, slim, muscular limbs. We’re now at that point where she is mainly buying adults’ clothes, so we always go for the size 6, the extra small or the jeans with the tiniest waist. In Jack Wills recently, the jeans with the tiniest waist wouldn’t even pull up. The jeans with the second tiniest waist would pull up, but there was no way they were doing up. I was horrified! These are clothes for adult women and they wouldn’t fit a slim 13 year old girl. I braced myself for my daughter getting upset, but it didn’t happen. I was fuming inside though. I just told her that they’re not designed for people with muscular legs and we would look somewhere else. But she could so easily have got upset like Flea did. I literally have no idea who fits into these clothes!

  2. I can totally identify with this as I went through exactly the same problems as a teenager when, at the age of 13, at a “curvy” size 14 I couldn’t get into ANY of the jeans or trousers in Topshop or River Island. It was tough and, sadly continues to be to this day (I am now 39 and still a size 14). The waist / hip ratio thing doesn’t seem to be taken into consideration anywhere, and it takes ages to find any bottoms that fit.
    The secret is to shop ONLY where I know it will cause me less pain, and not even bother attempting to wriggle into brands I know won’t go over my knees. I guess with a teenager you just have to ride it out until she’s not so concerned with wearing what the current fashion dictates, and can find her own style to fit her body shape and stick with it. Good luck!

  3. We’re not quite at that stage yet but have a problem with my smallish for her age just turned 12yr for whom.everything she likes is usually too big. Way too big. Stuff in places like next, m&s h&m and even Primark tend to be too little-girly (she is so over unicorns, mermaids and llamas). As she put it, they just make bigger sizes of little girls clothes. So from my point of view It’s thank goodness for New Look who seem to recognise that 10-12 yr old girls don’t want to dress like their little sisters.

  4. Carol Smith-Reynders

    Hi there,
    I just found this after opening my parcel from Pull and Bear – wish I’d found it before. I’m in my 60’s and my size tends to yo-yo all over the place! I love denim jackets – they are just so handy for times when you can’t tell what the weather is going to do! I wanted a black one, and finally found one for a reasonable price at Pull & Bear! On the website they ask you your height, bra size, shape and age, then they came back and told me to order a medium, but I ordered a large, because it says Fitted, and I like my jackets a little loose. Imagine my surprise when I took the jacket out of its parcel and it is too small! Why doesn’t the store simply have a size guide that tells you what the British sizes are for each of their sizes? What a waste of time and effort! Tell your teenagers that this store is clearly run by people who do not care about their customers! I am so angry I want to get on a bus and travel down to their Oxford street store to tell them off! It’s just ridiculous, there should be standards that sores should stick to!

  5. Exactly what we go through. My daughter is 12 with hips, thighs and proper boobs. She is fit (she rows 12 hours a week -her choice!). Clothes shopping is an utter nightmare so she defaults to joggers, sweatshirts and jersey shorts. Compounded by the fact she is 5ft 3. Nothing fits. She gets very upset because all her school friends are stick thin pre puberty.

  6. Im not a teen but got really angry not only by the Pull and Bears sizing. Im a 24 old peared shape women. I usually wear size eur 38 or 40 (10 and 12 i guess) . In Pull and Bear, I couldnt get the 38 jeans and the 40 ones werent much better. I ended up with 42, the biggest size availeble, angry, because it was too big on my waist.. And Pull and Bear isnt the only shop like this.. As you said, its all shops with mostly teenage base.

  7. I know this is a couple of years old but thank you! Just had some size 16 cargos not going anywhere near my 14 year old daughter who now is just responding with ‘it’s because I’m fat’. I slipped off my size 14 jeans and tried them on and surprise surprise they don’t go anywhere near me either. I thought the average size in UK is 16? How can they retail this size which is more like a 12, how many WOMAN not CHILDREN will fit into them? It’s is soul destroying.

    1. I had exactly the same experience with my size 12 daughter convinced she was really fat because an XL didn’t fit her. And don’t even get me started on Brandy Melville!

  8. maybe ur kids just a fatass lmaooo i have size 4 pull and bear jeans that are large on me, im 14, 5’8 and 44 kg. i have hips, im built like a woman now but im actually thin and pretty because i care about my appearance, you can fit any clothes you want to if you just loose weight. idk why its considered normal for teenagers to be 55+ kg if they arent ridiculously tall, if i can be 44 while 5’8 ur fatass kid can be thinner at 5’5

    1. Oh honey, please, please get help. At 5 foot 8 and a size 2 with a weight of 44kg, your BMI is 14 – that’s dangerously underweight. It should ideally be between 20 and 25. My teen – who you think is a “fat ass” has a BMI of 21. She’s healthy and strong and her body lets her do sport and walk and kayak and snowboard and really enjoy life. I want that for ALL teenage girls.

      If you need help finding resources and agencies that can help, please look on the NHS website, it’s packed with advice that would help you. All the best.

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