I’m sure you’ve experienced it: grabbing your usual dress size and heading to the fitting room, or even straight home, and then discovering that it just doesn’t fit!
Too large? Too small?
I know I have! It’s annoying. And it’s a tactic called vanity sizing.
One of many things we must deal with when buying off the rack.
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What is Vanity Sizing?
Clothing manufacturing companies do it to sell more clothes.
Back in the day, people made their own clothing. There was no need for clothing sizes, because women, for example, made each dress tailored to each person. They could account for wide hips, or long legs, or a short torso.
So what the heck happened?
Why do clothes have sizes in them?
Well, during the Great Depression, people could hardly afford food, much less fabric. And who was going to make said dress?
Suddenly, clothes were being mass-produced, because it was just cheaper. So of course, it was less important that the dress fit to your exact specifications and much more important that the dress fit the most people as possible in a certain size range.
This is why clothing label sizes exist in the first place.
Why Has My Clothing Size Changed?
There was a study conducted in the 1940s that aimed to create standard clothing labeling. Hundreds of measurements were taken on about 15,000 women and you know what happened? They ended up about as overwhelmed as you are in a fitting room. They figured out that people can’t be fit neatly into one size box.
In an article in the Washington Post, there is a chart that shows just how much women’s dress sizes have changed over the years. It’s crazy! See it HERE.
However, in the late 1950s, there was another attempt, and this time, arbitrary numbers were used. The smallest size was determined to be an 8 and the largest 38, with designations TSR for tall, regular and short, and + or – for girth.
Are Clothing Sizes Getting Bigger?
More and more studies are proving that people are getting bigger. However, clothing sizes would suggest that women are getting smaller.
For example, the model Twiggy was a size 8. Her measurements were 31” bust, 23.5 waist, and 32.5” hips. Can you imagine? I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of her, besides, there’s a good reason her nickname was Twiggy. Today, however, she would be a 00.
Mindy Kaling is currently reported to be a size 8. During Twiggy’s time, she would be more like a 14-16.
Marilyn Monroe’s body measurements made her a size 12 (a 1950s size 12, mind you). With more current charts for women, her dress size today would be considered a size 6.
What’s Beyonce’s dress size? About a size 6 by current standards. So, yes, she would be among the size 12 women along with Marilyn Monroe.
Other women who are approximately a size 12 include Kelly Clarkson and Kim Kardashian West.
There is no standard to the sizes of women’s clothing labels from then until now. It’s just gotten worse since the 80s when more and more designers started to adopt their own sizing.
Now, it’s the Wild West out there.
Are Designer Sizes Different?
I should note, couture designers fit closer to a size standard for ladies’ dress sizes. The sizes are more closely based on measurements. Although that doesn’t help the shock you feel when you’re used to wearing, for example, a size 4, then discover you can’t take a deep breath in that dress (and it isn’t even zipped up!). Women often find that their dress sizes are about 1 size larger in designer clothing.
How Do I Keep Up with Changing Sizes?
Your goal of dressing yourself, then, should never include some arbitrary number determined by some designer or manufacturer who seeks to manipulate you. It should be to find the clothing and styles that FIT.
The pieces that make you feel comfortable and confident every time you wear them.
Your task, then, is to stop buying those jeans because you want one day to be a size 2. Besides being a waste of your hard-earned money, all it’s going to do is taunt you and torture you, a constant reminder that you are not that size.
Toss them out, donate them, consign them or put them up for sell on your favorite second-hand clothing site before the day is out. If you want to lose weight for your health, that’s an excellent reason to lose weight, but don’t go buying a new wardrobe for your future self.
Final Thoughts on Vanity Sizing
You are beautiful. This does not depend on the number that is sewn in the seams. Cut it out.
Take some scissors and cut the tag out (as long as you’re sure you want to keep it, of course).
What is vital is that you be comfortable in your skin, confident in yourself and healthy on the inside and out.
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