European clothing sizes are unique. While each country within continental Western Europe has a common clothes sizing system, that system differs from other countries outside of Europe, including the system used in America. If you are buying children's clothes in Europe or online from European retailers, it is helpful to know the differences between American and European children's clothing sizes.
Inches vs. Centimetres
In general, American clothing sizes for children are determined by weight in pounds and length or height which is given in inches. Knowing conversions between inches and centimetres and pounds and kilograms is very helpful since European lengths for children's clothes are given in centimetres and kilograms. Charts for American clothes sizes are included in the references.
One cm is equal to .39 inches whereas 1 inch is approximately equal to 3cm. One kg. is approximately equal to 0.907kg. whereas 0.454kg. is equal to .45kg. Use the referenced conversion tables to help you convert specific measurements.
Both European and American clothing manufacturers indicate sizes for children's clothes with numbers. In the United States, sizing for children runs from 2 to 12 along even numbered increments. In Europe, corresponding sizes are given in a range starting with 40/55 up to 90/95 such that an American "4" is equal to a European "50/55" and an American "10" is equivalent to a European "80/85." The American size numbers generally indicate age whereas European size numbers indicate the height of the child in centimetres.
Another common point of comparison that is aided by clarification is the difference between American and European children's shoe sizes. Children's shoes are generally defined as those for children aged 6 to 12. In America, size numbers are smaller, ranging from 1 to 13, whereas corresponding European shoe sizes range from 28 to 39. In Europe, a size 28 shoe corresponds to an American 11 while a 39 corresponds to an American 7. View the referenced table for more conversions.
Finding the Right Fit
Because sizes can vary from one manufacturer to another and because it can be difficult at first to keep the sizing conversions right in your head, the best way to make sure a garment will fit you when you can't try it on is to take measurements, in centimetres, of a comfortably fitting shirt, trousers, shorts and dress. Take measurements for length, waist, chest, shoulder and sleeve and select European clothes with those measurements.