Vanity Sizing: A Fitting Room Debacle

Vanity Sizing, waist measurement

Vanity Sizing Image Credit: Amanda Gill

 Clothing sizes are not created equal and a size does not define you!

The Sizing Predicament.  Sizing standards in clothing are not the same across the board.  Much of it has to do with location, the brand itself, production facilities, and quality control.  I’m a size 10 at BCBG Max Azria, an 8 at White House Black Market, and a 12 in H&M button downs.  Needless to say, I carry 3 or more of every style in a variety of sizes into the fitting room to compare.  Sometimes you even have to try on 2 or 3 of the same size, since the quality of production always varies slightly.  One size 8 may be too tight and another that is exactly the same may fit perfectly.  I’m the girl who measures pants waistline against waistline to see if there is a half-an-inch difference in the same size.  Sales associates see me coming with my pile of clothes and bolt to the other side of the store.

How is Sizing Developed?

Every company has their own sizing methods, often based on the body shape of their fit model.  The model’s body style is used to develop patterns and samples for the garments designed by each company.  All designers have a target market and a certain type of person that they envision for their clothing.  Patterns are developed and graded (expanded for the company’s size range) based on their customer.  Because our figures are all different shapes, sizes, and lengths, each brand fits differently.  This can make shopping quite difficult and often very frustrating.  If you wear a size 4 in one store, you may not be happy going up a few sizes in another.

The Vanity Behind Sizing Psychology. 

The size is just a tiny little number inside your clothes, but for some reason it means the world to a woman.  Retailers are now participating in what is referred to as vanity sizing.  Clothes are created at one measurement, but marked a size or so smaller.  Women regularly purchasing a size 12/14 are now suddenly squeezing into an 8 /10 and they are ecstatic.  It sure is exciting to go down a size, but wouldn’t it be easier if sizing corresponded to your proper measurements?  I know my true measurements and I’ll gladly admit that they aren’t comparable to a size 2.  Clearly, there is an issue when I am wearing a size 2 in a certain jean, when I have a 28-inch waist.  It doesn’t make me feel better about myself, it just makes my shopping trip a little more hectic.  If I’m new to a store, I now have to carry a range of four sizes into the fitting room before I can figure out where I fit in with that particular brand. In my shopping travels I have noticed that higher-end, more expensive brands run larger allowing you to purchase a smaller size.  Cheaper brands are sometimes cut small, especially if they are appealing to the junior, teen, and early twenties market.

A Sizing Change has Occurred

Sizing has changed over time.  It is a widely known fact that Marilyn Monroe ranged from a pant size 8 to a dress size 12 during her career.  Dressmakers claim that her measurements were 35″–22″–35″.  In today’s sizing standards, Marilyn Monroe would be a size 0 or 2.  Obviously, sizes are not the same as they used to be.  Historically, it is evident that people having been growing over the years.  Two-hundred years ago, people were built smaller and shorter.  As times changed, people have evolved and so has sizing.  If you ever have a chance to visit a historic costume exhibit, you will notice that the clothing is very petite compared to that of today.  As a general rule, you can’t base your sizing on what you wore when you were younger.  The standards (or lack there of) have changed.

A Size Does Not Define You.

Here’s some wise advice:  ignore the tiny number on the tag and look at the fit of the garment.  Don’t buy something that is too tight because you’re self conscious about going up a size or two.  It will be unflattering and uncomfortable.  No one will know precisely what size you are if your clothes are fitting correctly.  If the number on the tag is causing negative thoughts about your body image, just cut it out of the garment.  Simply forget the number and focus on feeling good.  Sizing is so varied, that it is relatively meaningless when compared across a broad spectrum of brands and retailers.  Clothing that fits properly is more important than any silly number and can bring you a wealth of confidence, whether your waist is 24-inches or 62-inches.

So in your shopping travels, don’t get discouraged by a number.  Base your decisions on what fits and feels good and I promise that you will be a lot happier with yourself in the end!

 

2 Comments on Vanity Sizing: A Fitting Room Debacle

  1. Jona @bohowillow
    09/23/2013 at 1:24 am (4 years ago)

    Amen, sister! Loved this little bit of learning – and it’s exactly why new jeans came home with me last weekend!

    Reply

1Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Vanity Sizing: A Fitting Room Debacle

  1. […] Now that you’ve fallen in love with that vintage dress, please compare the measurements of the garment to your own.  Check out our measurement guide for an easy how-to for proper measurements.  Unfortunately size standards have changed over the years, so it’s usually best to ignore the number on the label.  A size 10 in 1950 is much smaller than a 2012 size 10.  If you’re interested in understanding more about sizing in general, you can find more information here on our style blog. […]

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