Life | Travel

Ultimate UNIQLO Size Comparison: Japan vs. US

January 2, 2018
UNIQLO Japan

As a petite Asian woman living in the United States I am always struggling to find clothing that fits straight off the rack. Granted there are a number of retailers in the US that do offer petite sizing, but even then the cut and styles never seem to be exactly right for what I’m looking for.

That’s why I got really excited to try on some clothes during my latest trip to Japan.  I had heard that the Japanese sizing of popular chain brands like UNIQLO and Muji that have US stores had different cuts for the Asian markets and maybe I would have better luck in Japan than I’ve had buying from these brands in the States.  In my experience, even when buying the smallest sizes in the US UNIQLO, the fit was never right – usually too long in the torso or leg length –  and it always made me sad because I figured Japanese brand = sizing great for petite Asians.

I tried to do some online research ahead of time, but couldn’t find a very comprehensive comparison between UNIQLO sizing from the US vs Japan and info on the sizes that are generally stocked in the US vs Japan stores. That’s why I decided to write this post based on my own experience. Hopefully, this helps some of y’all out on your next trip to Japan or Asia where you plan on going to a UNIQLO!

TLDR version:

  • Japanese UNIQLO sizing is generally one size smaller than the US version.
  • In addition, across the board, the garments in Japan feature a shorter cut than the clothing sold in the American version of the store.

But let’s dive in and look at the specifics of the sizing charts:

UNIQLO’s US sizing chart

Uniqlo US sizing chart

I’m only going to focus on the smallest sizes here since that’s what I would wear. So as you can see from the chart:

Height

  • US XXS = 5.1-5.3 ft in
  • US XS = 5.1-5.3 ft in

Bust

  • US XXS = 29-31 in
  • US XS = 31-33 in

Waist

  • US XXS = 22-23 in
  • US XS = 24-25

Knowing all that, I have very rarely ever seen XXS carried in the US stores (even in NYC where I would imagine selection is among the largest in the US), although the size is sometimes sold on select items through their US online store as part of their extended sizes offerings.

UNIQLO’s Japan sizing chart

Uniqlo Japan sizing chart

Here’s where things get interesting. In the Japanese sizing, there is no XXS – the smallest is XS.  So let’s take a look at the XXS and XS sizing for comparison. I’ve rounded the centimeter measurements into the nearest inch.

Height

  • US XXS = 5.1-5.3 ft in
  • US XS = 5.1-5.3 ft in
  • JP XS = 4.9-5.1 ft
  • JP S = 5.0-5.3 ft

So already you can see that for XS, there is no equivalent in the US sizing in terms of height – the XS is simply going to be cut shorter than anything in the US sizing which only starts at 5.1 at its shortest in XXS or XS. However, the US XS and JP S are in the same general range, with the JP S covering women one inch shorter, at 5 feet tall.

Bust

  • US XXS = 29-31 in
  • US XS = 31-33 in
  • JP XS = 29-31.5 in
  • JP S = 30-33 in

That means that the US XXS and the Japanese XS are roughly around the same size around the bust and the US XS is close to the Japanese S, again with the JP S covering one inch smaller, but still covering women up to 33 in.

Waist

  • US XXS = 22-23 in
  • US XS = 24-25
  • JP XS = 22-25 in
  • JP S is 24-26 in

Based purely on the numbers, the US XXS is 2 in smaller than the Japanese XS, and the US XS actually only covering women up to 25 in waist, as opposed to JP S covering women up to 26.

One thing I noticed in the Japanese UNIQLO stores is that that just like in the American stores, the smallest available size is generally not in stock – I don’t think I saw any XS in the stores I visited – you’ll basically only see S, M, L.

US vs Japan UNIQLO sizing: What the sizing chart says

Just looking at the sizing charts, the Japanese S supposedly caters to a person with the same height, bust, and waist size as the US XS, which totally confused me. That’s because every time in the past I’ve tried on clothes in the US UNIQLO stores in XS, and they just never seem to fit right (too big), versus when I was in Japan, trying on the Japanese S, everything seemed to fit just perfectly.

So I started to wonder if I had made some horrible mistake and spent a lot of time and energy shopping in UNIQLO Japan just to bring home the same exact item I could get here in the States. Had I deluded myself into thinking that everything in Japan fit better just because it’s in Japan?

Side-by-side size comparison: UNIQLO shirt Japan S vs United States XS

For the sake of my own sanity, I performed an experiment, comparing a Small size shirt I bought at UNIQLO in Japan vs the same exact shirt in XS from a UNIQLO here in the US.

UNIQLO shirt S Japan

UNIQLO shirt XS US

As a side note, you also may notice that there’s definitely a price difference between Japan and the US. The Japanese UNIQLO shirt comes out to be less than $20, but in the US the shirt sells for almost $30.

I took the US XS and laid it out on the table first, then put the Japan S on top of it – lining up the collars, shoulders, sleeves and body.

So as you can see from the photos below, the Japan S sleeves and hem are at least an inch shorter than the US version. The body width is basically the same.

UNIQLO shirt size comparison sleeve

UNIQLO shirt size comparison hem

The conclusion is that even though the Japan S and the US XS are supposed to fit a person with the same height, bust, waist, the Japanese cut features shorter sleeves as well as shorter shirt length, which definitely explains why the Asian version fits a petite like me much better!

UNIQLO pants and jean sizing

As for the pants, I feel like even though the US XS and the JP S are roughly supposed to be for the same height range, the Japanese S are cut shorter and slimmer in the hips/butt. Again, if you just look at the numbers, supposedly the cuts would hypothetically cover the same range, but I really think since the Japanese S is supposed to cover people slightly shorter and with smaller hips than the US XS, the cut is generally slimmer.

In terms of the jeans, I found I needed a 22 (56 cm) in Japan UNIQLO. In the US UNIQLO I almost never see anything smaller than a 25, whereas in Japan the 22s are generally available as the smallest stocked size. I also have no idea how I’m a Japanese 22 – usually in US sizes I need to go with a 24 (J Brand jean size). When I tried on 24s in Japan I was absolutely swimming in them, so could this be the case that in Japan the pants sizing is vanity sizing as opposed to the US?!?! Who knows!

Bonus: Tips for shopping at the UNIQLO stores in Japan

If you want the most varied selection of UNIQLO products, you must go to the largest UNIQLO store in the world – the Tokyo’s Ginza district. The UNIQLO has 12 floors- with the top floor devoted to their best selling items, a floor to Uniqlo special collaborations, and multiple floors for women’s and men’s clothing, as well as a floor featuring children’s clothing. I found this store carries the most sizes and colors, stocking many items that were sold out in other stores I visited.

If you are a tourist, you should definitely take advantage of the tax-free shopping offered at UNIQLO if you spend over 5000 YEN. Depending on the store, you may need to go to a special tax-free cashier (as was the case at the Shibuya Spanish Steps location) or you may be able to get your tax-free shopping at any cash register (as was the case at the Ginza store).

Happy shopping! Let me know if you found this article helpful by leaving your thoughts in the comment section.

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