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Try this for size; CARD GIVES PERFECT FIT.

Byline: GEORGINA WINTERSGILL

IT'S not quite like having a personal shopper in your handbag, but it's the next best thing.

Before long we could all be carrying a smart card containing an accurate 3D image of our body size scanned in by computer.

You could use it to find your size in a shop, or when you go abroad, to give details for made-to-measure clothes or to get the right size from a mail order catalogue.

And for people that loathe those communal changing rooms, this is a big step towards buying without even needing to try things on.

A national sizing survey, Size UK, was launched on June 26, backed by the Government and stores such as Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Debenhams. It aims to form an accurate picture of the UK's changing shape. Between now and December, 3D body scanners will take the measurements of 10,000 volunteers.

With three friends, right, we gave the system a try. And as if to prove a point, our four "size 12" figures did not have a single measurement in common - the scanners measure 130 key points.

Size UK project director Professor Philip Treleaven explains: "Participating retailers will have precise information on the average shape of, for example, women aged between 20 and 30 who live in Greater London.

"Retailers could even sell clothes in quarter sizes, for a precise fit."

Male and female volunteers are needed. 3D scanners will visit Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester, Nottingham and Southampton this year. Check out the website www.sizeuk.org

TALES OF THE TAPE

IT'S hard to believe, but size specifications between shops vary by up to two inches. So while your 36.5in hips may fit a pair of slinky size 10 trousers in M&S, they'll be nudging a 14 in JD Williams.

Current size guides are shown below. The stores and home shopping catalogues here are all part of Size UK. That means that in future they will draw their information from the same database and sizes are likely to be more standard.

But shops will always determine sizes according to their target market, so a high-fashion chain will still have different fittings from a range for older people.

MARKS & SPENCER

10 33.5-27-36.5

12 35-28.5-37.5

14 36.5-30-39.5

TOP SHOP

10 34-27-36

12 35.5-28.5-37.5

14 37.5-30.5-39.5

DEBENHAMS

10 34.5-27-36.5

12 36.5-29-38

14 38.5-30.5-40

FREEMANS

10 33.5-25.5-36

12 35.5-27.5-38

14 37.5-29.5-40

GREAT UNIVERSAL STORES

10 33-25-35.5

12 35-27-37.5

14 37-29-39.5

LITTLEWOODS

10 33-25-35.5

12 35-27-37.5

14 37-29-39.5

JD WILLIAMS

10 33-26-34

12 35-28-36

14 37-30-38

TESCO

10 34-25-36

12 36-27-38

14 38-29-40

GEORGINA

Georgina Wintersgill, 27, is a journalist.

Her statistics are 33-26-36. She wears a size 10 in M&S, Top Shop and Debenhams but a size 10-12 in the other stores listed.

JEANNETTE

Jeannette Chalaye, 23, is an actress.

Her statistics are 36-28-38. She wears a size 12 in Debenhams, a 12-14 in M&S, Freemans and Tesco and a 14 in Littlewoods.

ANTHEA

Anthea Dolman, 27, is an engineer.

Her statistics are 36-30-37. She found that she wears a size 12-14 in all the stores involved in the Size UK survey.

VITA

Vita Moltedo, 27, is a student.

Her statistics are 33-27-39. She wears a size 10 on top and a size 14 on the bottom in all the stores listed here.

CAPTION(S):

Pictures: TIM ANDERSON
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 30, 2001
Words:589
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