Can I get a little help with my dress, please?

Want to know a place that every woman dreads entering?

Want to know a place that every woman dreads entering? I’ll give you a clue—it’s usually cramped, has bad lighting and is the one room that has the ability to either make you feel great about yourself or make you cry.

If you haven’t already guessed, it’s a high street changing room. No other place in the world has the ability to make grown women cry more than a changing room with a wonky mirror that’s telling you that the gorgeous dress you picked up in your size doesn’t fit you.

Back in 2012, the online clothes retailer Marisota surveyed nearly 2,000 women on the perils of high street shopping. The result was that over half of the women surveyed hated high street shopping and 37 per cent admitted that they hated getting undressed in a changing room. No wonder retail sales have slumped!

High street sales have apparently gotten so bad that retail expert and broadcaster Mary Portas has attempted to reinvigorate the retail industry with television shows such as “Mary Queen of Shops” and “Mary Queen of the High Street” and David Cameron has asked for a review of the future of Britain’s high street.

Whilst these efforts are commendable and certainly important, Portas’ television shows reportedly inspired smaller, boutique shops on the high street to up their game and smarten up their shop floors. What is seemingly being ignored are the actual clothes themselves. It’s all very well having a nice shop floor but if your clothes don’t fit well then you’re in trouble.

That sounds a bit obvious doesn’t it? Well sadly, it seems as if the high street missed the memo on stocking clothes that fit. Worse still, most of the high street are apparently throwing out the size rulebook and making it up as they go along. So much so that I’m not sure they even know what they are doing anymore.

When did the high street forget what sizes women are? What is considered to be a size 8 in one store is often a size 6 or size 10 in another and don’t even get me started on the internet sites that have grown in popularity over the last decade!

One minute I am a slender size 6 and 10 minutes later and two shops down I’m a size 12, no wonder women don’t enjoy taking their clothes off in a changing room, it’s positively soul destroying. One minute the diet’s worked and the next you’re two or three sizes bigger than you’ve ever been in your life!

Karen Millen is perhaps the guiltiest of this, with sizes often coming up one or two sizes smaller than most other high street measurements. Indeed, only last week I went shopping with my partner on the hunt for a killer dress that would work for both a summer ball and a wedding at which his dreadful ex would be attending (I’m sure you will all agree the need for a knock out dress was vital!). Trying on dresses in Karen Millen I went from a size 4 to a size 10 and when I queried this, the shop assistant nonchalantly told me that the dresses are a size smaller than they should be.

Whilst perhaps many of you are reading this and thinking “So? What’s the big deal?” with so many different sizing measurements out there on the high street, those strapped for time or the body—conscious become unnecessary victims of sizing discrepancies and the high street ultimately loses out on key sales.

How many times have you gone shopping only to spend hours in the changing rooms because you can’t find a size that fits and given up and gone home? Or how many times have you felt disheartened when you can’t fit into your regular size?

On a more serious note, that Karen Millen think it a good idea to make clothes smaller offers a worrying insight into the ideals of the fashion industry that places emphasis on the need to be slim. For those less hardy than myself, struggling to slip a dress on can lead to extreme dieting, negative body image or notions that one has to be skinny to wear a certain label.

Mary Portas and David Cameron are on a crusade to save the high street but are they looking in the wrong direction? The high street retail industry needs to recognize that customers do not have infinite time to figure out the individual sizing measurements of each and every store on the high street and do something about it or lose out. I mean, how long does it take to make a universal sizing chart and stick to it?

What do you think? What should change in Britain’s high streets? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.