How To…. Find Clothes In China

 In this instalment of my “How to…. China” series, I talk about clothes in China

 

Clothes. Something we all need but getting clothes in China can be a bit of a difficulty, especially finding some that fit. I have a massive problem, as I am a 5′ 11″ tall female, with big feet even for the UK and other sizable assets; I am much, much larger than the Chinese therefore there is not an abundance of my sized clothes in China.

Here, I’m going to look at the different sizes of clothes in China in comparison with UK and US sizes and also talk about where you can obtain clothes that you can fit into.

The main thing you need to be prepared for is the fact that looking at a Chinese size chart can be a bit depressing, especially if you are a little body conscious. Buying clothes in China is not for the faint hearted, as I’ll demonstrate now. All the following tables are from this page.

First up, we have a standard chart for women’s clothes. All of these numbers are what could appear in the labels in women’s clothes in China:

Standard

Size details

China

160-165
/84-86

165-170
/88-90

167-172
/92-96

168-173
/98-102

170-176
/106-110

International

XS

S

M

L

XL

USA

2

4-6

8-10

12-14

16-18

Europe

34

34-36

38-40

42

44

But there are also other labels for women’s clothes in China, depending on the shop, so here is another conversion table with different Chinese labels:

Standard

Size details

China

S

M

L

XL

XXL

XXXL

International

XS

S

M

L

XL

XXL

XXXL

USA

2

4

6

8

10

12

14

UK

6

8

10

12

14

16

18

Europe

32

34

36

38

40

42

44


Underwear and shoes

Let’s just say my size doesn’t exist in either of these categories of clothes in China according to the Chinese. Underwear and shoes are a massive problem for lots of expats in China. Just look at these tables to see why:

Underwear

Standard

Size details

China

A

B

C

D

E

USA

AA

A

B

C

D

DD

DDD/E

F

FF

G

GG

H

HH

J

UK

AA

A

B

C

D

DD

E

F

FF

G

GG

H

HH

J

Europe

AA

A

B

C

D

E

F

Shoes

Foot length (cm)

22.5

23

23.5

24

24.5

25

25.5

26

China

35

36

37

38

39

39

40

40

US

5

5.5

6

6.5

7

7.5

8

8.5

UK

4

4.5

5

5.5

6

6.5

7

7.5

Europe (EU)

35

36

37

38

39

39

40

40

My size does not exist according to the Chinese!

For men, it’s a little easier, as generally men are always bigger than women, but men’s clothes in China still use different labels, which I’ll show you here:

Standard

Size details

China

165/88-90

170/96-98

175/108-110

180/118-122

185/126-130

International

S

M

L

XL

XXL

Shirts

Standard

Size details

China

36-37

38-39

40-42

43-44

45-47

International

S

M

L

XL

XXL

 Trousers

Standard

Size details

China

42

44

46

48

50

Waist

68-72 cm

71-76 cm

75-80 cm

79-84 cm

83-88 cm

Length

99 cm

101.5 cm

104 cm

106.5 cm

109 cm

Shoes

Foot length (cm)

24.5

25

25.5

26

26.5

27

27.5

28

China

39

40

41

42

43

44

45

46

US

7

7.5

8

8.5

9

9.5

10

10.5

UK

6

6.5

7

7.5

8

8.5

9

9.5

Europe (EU)

39

40

41

42

43

44

45

46

Finding clothes and shoes that fit

I bet you’re now wondering what I do for new clothes and shoes? Well, I didn’t bring all that much out here as I only expected to stay for 6 months. Where I lived in Ordos, there was no opportunity for me to buy new clothes, one, because I didn’t like what was on offer, and two, if I did like it, it didn’t fit me. I did buy some shoes though, as although being men’s shoes, I thought they looked nice.

It was my first trip to Beijing, way back in October/November 2011 that I bought my first clothes in China, from H&M, one of my favourite shops in the world. It was again in Beijing in February that I bought more clothes (H&M) and a couple of pairs of “girlie” shoes from the famous Silk Market. Being such a tourist destination, the Silk Market caters for the abundance of larger foreigners, so it was easier to buy larger shoes there.

Since then I have been buying clothes whenever I visit Xiamen, an hour away, as it has an H&M… Until the end of last month when, excitingly, Zhangzhou got its own H&M! To be honest though, I haven’t bought anything there yet.

Besides from my H&M purchases, I have managed to buy clothes in chain “Chinese” shops. The two blue dresses from my photo shoot are from such shops, La Chapelle and Cache Cache. Cache Cache is actually a French brand, which may explain the availability of slightly larger sizes.

Now to shoes. It is impossible for me to buy shoes in Chinese shops, especially if I want to buy something “girlie.” Fortunately, I have an alternative, Taobao. This is a Godsend for me as I have been able to search and buy larger sizes of shoes. For the last 5 months I have been living in flip flops, but now the weather is slowly getting colder so I wanted some boots, plus Rachel was getting on my back about not having a pair of heels. So here are my new boots (size 45) and heels (size 44)!

 

brown boots made in China

These are lovely and as long as a lot of my students’ legs!

high heels made in China

These, at a 44, are actually a little too big! But at least that’s more rectifiable than too small.

I’d love to hear of fellow expat’s problems in regards to having difficulty finding clothes in China. As ever, leave a comment and I’ll always reply!

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Author: Bennett

2 years as an expat in China and now doing the same in New Zealand, Bennett sure likes to experience "slow travel!"

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19 Comments

  1. That is a good set of comparison charts you’ve set there. I remember once trying to buy a pair of shoes in Shanghai. I gave up in the end as none of them would fit.

    Post a Reply
    • Well, as I say, no credit taken by me for the tables! But they are very useful.
      It’s so frustrating, but I kind of knew it would happen, being a freakily sized female in my home country! At least it’s curbed my shopping habits a little anyway!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Post a Reply
  2. Buying clothes in China was always a nightmare for me: not the right size and I felt like being fat and ugly ! Skinny jeans I could fit into and too small t-shirts!

    Post a Reply
    • And you’re not 5’11”!! It is crazy how much smaller the Chinese are. You know it, but you don’t really realise until you have to buy clothes and you’re buying XXXL…. 🙁 This equals obese at home, so therefore I am obese in China?!

      Post a Reply
  3. The boots look like Link’s. I’m actually rather jealous. x

    Post a Reply
    • Amy they were only a tenner too, great considering they were made to order! 😉 No idea how long they’ll last, but even if just for a few months as it’ll get too hot. Even now I’m considering taking out the lining! And I shall fight evil in them, maybe 😉

      Post a Reply
    • Taobao is like an online shop – a bit like eBay but no bidding! It’s really useful for finding stuff, even stuff from home! Just read your site – not long now! 🙂 Get in touch if I can be of any help at all!

      Post a Reply
  4. I know this was like 2 years ago but do you know what my dress size in china would be if my U.S size is a 9? I found a prom dress I like but there sizes are so weird im not sure what I’d be

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Abi – thought US sizes were all even? To be honest, I think the safest thing to do is not buy anything from China unless you’re living there and can try it on/send it back easier. Their sizes are so crazy but then again we are a lot bigger than them anyway 🙂

      Post a Reply
  5. Hey there Bennett! I am very tall, just like you, however, my dilemma is that I am also super skinny, do I go with large, because my torso is long, or do I go with Medium because I am so thin? Thanks!

    Post a Reply
  6. In the u.s. I wear like a small or small and I’m a size 1 do you kno what size I would be in china?

    Post a Reply
    • It’s pretty tricky working out the sizes as I’m a UK 14/16 and an XXXL or something ridiculous in China! I’d go either medium or large Chinese size if you are a small, as Chinese small is different to other “smalls” around the world!

      Post a Reply
  7. This has been the most useful China- UK size chart on the internet so thank youuu 🙂

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Michelle – I found it from the Chinese online shopping store and thought I’d share it with everyone! 😀

      Post a Reply
  8. so, my shoe size is US 10.5. i guess in china it doesn’t exist!

    Post a Reply
    • It’s so nice to live in a country where I can actually buy shoes my size again 😉

      Post a Reply
  9. I wear men’s XXL in America and I have some Chinese sweat pants on which the label says “XXXXL 195/110.” These fit comfortably. What does the 195/110 mean? How many cm is that? How can I measure to know what I need?

    Post a Reply
  10. I wish more authors of this type of content would take the time you did to research and write so well. I am very impressed with your vision and insight. read information

    Post a Reply

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  1. Swap Shop Lesson - A Leap Into The Unknown | A Leap Into The Unknown - [...] Tiger,”  my photos from my photoshoot (don’t I look horrible?!) and added a piece on clothes sizing in China…

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