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When people talk about "European" sizing they often mean French which is quite widely used, but it does vary country to country. Italian 42 is a 10. Net a Porter have a good guide on their site. I have worked in few womens retail stores and thought it seemed accurate.
H&M get that wrong though and call 36 a 10. It's not. It's an 8."
No, they're right. A 38 is supposed to be a 12, but size inflation here has changed that. If you're a 14 under size inflation, then yes a 42 is right. If you're a 14 from a few years ago or from a shop that still has smaller sizes such as a teenage shop, it would be different.
"All I can say about H&M is that their 40, which they call a 12, is comparable to what nearly all other shops call a 10 or a 38."
I disagree with 'nearly all'. Yes, they have smaller sizes than middle aged shops, but not necessarily than young shops like Top Shop. Many of their customers are young so I suppose they are communicating with their customers. Their customers' idea of small, medium and large is going to be very different to the one of 60 year old M&S customers where the sizes are very large.
Ugh, trying to rectify a mistake and making a new mistake., Gwen was quoting someone and disagreeing with them. Who was saying it? @MIssWimplyDimple - I agree with you that H&M are being silly in making a 38 and calling it a 12. They would do better to call it a 10. Or just write in the EU sizes and let us figure things out for ourselves.