While a woman may be more pleased to fit into a size 8 than a size 44, actually the garment is the same size. Clothing and shoe sizes are different in Europe than in the U.S., and furthermore, the system varies from country to country within Europe. The term "European sizes" mainly applies to Germany and the Scandinavian countries, but not the U.K., France and Italy. Men's and women's sizes are numbered differently. Making it a bit more confusing for Americans, measurements are often shown in centimeters, not inches, and sizing varies by designer. A reminder: 1 inch equals 2.54 centimeters. When in doubt, try it on or carefully read the fine print on the return policy.

Sizing for Trousers in the United Kingdom

The language may sound quite similar, but the clothing sizes are quite different. Throughout Great Britain and Ireland, pants are referred to as trousers. One must add two sizes to convert American women's sizing to the British/Irish system. Therefore, in trousers and shorts, a size 8 in the U.S. is a size 12 in the U.K. In women's jeans, sizes tend to be increased only one from U.S. to U.K., so a size 8 becomes a size 10. Otherwise, look for jeans sizes in inches (not centimeters) that are the same as in the U.S. For men, sizing is the same in the U.S. and U.K. or jeans, trousers and shorts; they generally run from a 28 to a 48 in short, medium or long. This also applies to men's suits.

French Sizing for Pants

No doubt, the French know fashion. The French sizing system also applies to Belgium, Spain and Portugal. Add 32 to the American size number to get the French size in women's pants. In the U.S., a pair of women's pants in size 0-2 is the equivalent of a size 32 in France. Therefore, size 4 is 36; size 6 is 38; size 8 is 40, size 10 is 42, size 12 is 44, size 14 is 46; size 16 is 48. For men, pants sizes are based on the waist and inseam measurements, so it is simply a matter of converting inches to centimeters. Trousers tagged 28 inches measure 71 cm; 30 inches is 76 cm, and so on. Often, the garment will be tagged in both inches and centimeters. For a man's suit size, add 10 in both the French and Italian clothing sizing systems. For example, a 40R becomes a 50R.

Italian Sizing for Pants

Superior Italian styling and the cut of garments made in Italy are known all over the world. Italian sizing runs two sizes higher than the French system. So, ladies' American size 8 pants (size 12 in the U.K.) are a French 40 and an Italian 44. For men, things get tricky. Suits and coats as well as trousers that are tagged 28 inches in the U.S. (71 cm in France), will be an Italian 44. Size 29 is 45, size 30 is 46, and so on.

German and Scandinavian Sizing for Pants

German clothing sizes are usually called "European," and also used in Austria, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The American women's trousers in size 8 (which are a size 40 in France and a 44 in Italy) are a size 38 in the German system. Alternatively, pants sizes are often written as a waist and leg (or length) measurement, for example, W/28-L/30. It’s the same way jeans often display sizes in the U.S. For special sizes in men's pants, the following terms may appear: Schlank for longer legs; Untersetzt for shorter legs; and Bauch for wider waists.