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

teen clothing sizes

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.

How can that possibly be right?

Quite naturally Flea was dismayed when she realised the shorts were far too tight. She 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 now she is 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.
  • 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 – 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?




Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.

About The Author


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.


  1. Sarah MumofThree World

    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!
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted..Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane MoriartyMy Profile

  2. Emma

    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. Fee horne

    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.


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