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Men’s EU Clothing Size Guide

What are EU sizes in the UK?


You’re young, you’re on holiday somewhere pleasant — a good balance of history, architecture, fair weather, great food, nice beaches etc. You decide you want to get away from the image you have of yourself back home — you’re a man of the world, now. You want to take this feeling home with you when you leave, this feeling of freedom and somewhere-elseness, so you buy yourself a shell necklace and a little leather bracelet for four euros. Then you see it. A shirt with a weird graphic on the front, in a language you don’t understand — might say something vague and inoffensive, or it might say ‘I will eat your beloved family cat whilst your first-born child watches.’

Impossible to know. You’re young, Google Translate won’t be on the scene for years yet. 

The problem is that the tee is labelled in European sizes. Unfathomable. Impenetrable. Impervious to your attempted understanding. You have to guess. It doesn’t fit. You never wear it. 35 euros you’ll never see again laughing at you from inside the till of a shop owner who thinks you eat cats.

Here’s what you need to remember:

1. For tops and outerwear, add 10. So if you’re a size 38 in the UK, you’re a 48 in continental Europe.

2. For trousers and shorts in Italy and some other parts of Europe, add 16. If you’re a 34 in the UK, you’re a 50 in these areas.

3. For shoes, add  32.5-34. The smaller the foot, the less you add. If you’re a 6 in the UK, you’re a 38.5 when you’re on holiday, whereas if you’re an 11 in the UK, you’re a 45 in Europe.


Clothes sizes follow a linear conversion, unlike Celsius and Fahrenheit, which makes things easier. You just have to remember 10, 16, and then the number to add to your shoe size depending on your feet. Make up a rhyme to remember it, perhaps.


You’ll never go wrong when you’re buying your fits in a nice European clothes store

If you add ten on the top sixteen on the bottom and your feet are a plus 34. 

Three simple steps to make outfits thrive

Add ten, add sixteen, add thirty-point-five.


Something like that.



Typical Size Variations Across European Countries


There are a couple of spanners in the works to bear in mind. Unlike most of Europe, Italy has the same men’s top sizes as the UK (voi ringraziamo per questo, amici nostri). Also, French shirt sizes are a nightmare — you have to double your UK size and add eight.


f = 2uk + 8


Remember BODMAS/BIDMAS from your GCSE algebra? Multiplication before addition. If you add the eight before you multiply by two, that’s the end of you. You’re walking around in a tent instead of a shirt. Une tente instead of une chemise. Call up your old maths teacher now, say sorry for giving you all that grief I see why I should’ve listened now.


Some European countries have a trouser sizing system similar to the UK but generally using slightly smaller numbers and with more increments e.g. a UK 32 can be a European 30, 31, or 32. This conversion scale varies depending on the side so be careful. Italy and various other parts of Europe simply add 16, whilst France adds 12 to UK sizes. BE sure to look up the size conversion of trousers before purchasing in Europe — it’s a minefield.

What is the difference between EU, U.S. and UK sizes?


EU clothing size

Europe used its very practical 5 and 10-based metric number system to come up with its precise sizing systems. Unfortunately, they couldn’t all agree on one system and so you essentially need to use a size converter or pray to whatever deity you worship and hope for the best.



U.S. Clothing size

The U.S. came up with their first sizing system for men during the American Civil War when they measured thousands of men for uniforms. They don’t differ too much from our men’s sizes in the UK, except they’re a little fonder of a S, M, L, XL etc. than we are. For women, it’s a different story based on marketing and exploitation of fashions and, frankly, it’s all a bit unpleasant. Marilyn Monroe was a size 12 in her day, she’d be a modern day size 6 as manufacturers and marketers have driven sizing numbers down to make women feel smaller… unpleasant, we told you.



UK Clothing Size

The UK first developed clothing sizes in response to demand for uniform during the Crimean War. Essentially, if there were no wars then the whole world would probably have a standardised clothing size system by now, and if that’s not a reason to stop killing each other, we don’t know what is.



Unfortunately this size is no longer in stock.