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Discuss: Size Matters

Yesterday, in the men’s style post, I mentioned one of my biggest fashion pet peeves: that men’s clothing has standardized sizes and women’s clothing does not.  There’s nothing that bothers me more than the fact that I can be a size 0 or size 8 depending on the brand.  So why don’t women have standardized sizes too?

My co-worker had an interesting thought on the matter: men are systematic, clinical, they like to walk into a store select the correct size from a table of items and pay for it.  No wondering if it will fit, and no trying on.  

“In a men’s store, the clothes are folded using cardboard and pins.  So, if you want to try on a shirt, you actually have to break it. No man is going to go through that hassle.”  

This no-nonsense, scientific approach to shopping is completely different from the way women shop,  he argues.  Women want to feel good about the clothes they buy.  They want to fit into the smaller size, so retailers cheat and put a size four tag in a pair of pants that another designer would consider a six or eight.

While I rarely agree with him on anything regarding fashion, I have to say, I think that he’s right on the money.  My Mother would rather skip dessert for life, work out until she bleeds and wear three pair of Spanx than buy a size other than four.  And there was certainly a time, when if the size 26 jeans and the size 2 top didn’t fit, I was going home empty handed.

Luckily, I’m no longer obsessed with the number, because I realize that the digit on the tag is fungible and subjective.  But it took a 20lb weight gain and years spent working retail before I learned to accept that reality.

So here are the points that I’d like to discuss:

First off, is my co-worker right?  Are retailers engaged in psychological warfare with American shoppers?  Are they giving men the systematic shopping experience that they want, and perpetuating an alternate reality for women where we can lie to ourselves about what size we are because the lie makes us feel good?

Secondly, do you think standardized sizing is a good idea?  

And last, if we had standardized sizing, and suddenly your were a 12 instead of an 8 or an 8 instead of 4, how would you feel about that?

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  1. LS says:

    This is a fantastic discussion! I'd like to offer another petite perspective.

    As I think you all have concluded here, standard sizing could be fantastic but because women have so many styles of clothes and body shapes, it probably wouldn't be as simple as it is for men.

    What would make sense, as I think a few ladies have pointed out already, is for retailers to stop increasing the sizes every season. I'm 5'0″ and 105 lbs and find it infuriating that 00s at almost every major retailer are absolutely huge on me. Almost every work appropriate item that does come close to fitting has to be tailored. I'm not freakishly small; I can probably name at least a dozen female friends that are my size or smaller but retailers are slowly but surely phasing out clothes for women of my stature. My mom has kept some of her old clothes so I know for a fact that 20-30 years ago I would have been a 2 or 4. I am dreading the day that size inflation gets so bad that I can't even have clothes tailored because there will be so much extra fabric. What then? Custom clothes? I can't stand it when sales people suggest children's clothes. Little girls do not have hips and chests!

    Overall, I'm extremely frustrated with the sizing situation as I know women of almost every size and shape are. What do we do? Boycott?

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. LS says:

    This is a fantastic discussion! I'd like to offer another petite perspective.

    As I think you all have concluded here, standard sizing could be fantastic but because women have so many styles of clothes and body shapes, it probably wouldn't be as simple as it is for men.

    What would make sense, as I think a few ladies have pointed out already, is for retailers to stop increasing the sizes every season. I'm 5'0″ and 105 lbs and find it infuriating that 00s at almost every major retailer are absolutely huge on me. Almost every work appropriate item that does come close to fitting has to be tailored. I'm not freakishly small; I can probably name at least a dozen female friends that are my size or smaller but retailers are slowly but surely phasing out clothes for women of my stature. My mom has kept some of her old clothes so I know for a fact that 20-30 years ago I would have been a 2 or 4. I am dreading the day that size inflation gets so bad that I can't even have clothes tailored because there will be so much extra fabric. What then? Custom clothes? I can't stand it when sales people suggest children's clothes. Little girls do not have hips and chests!

    Overall, I'm extremely frustrated with the sizing situation as I know women of almost every size and shape are. What do we do? Boycott?

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  3. prosecutordc says:

    online shopping would certainly be alot easier if there was standardized sizing. Sure I know I might be a bigger size than I think I am…but I'd rather be able to buy something (without trying it on or online) and know its going to fit!

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  4. Lisatella says:

    Last night I was browsing around Urban Outfitters and took a few items to the dressing room. I love that pants there come in waist size, but after falling between the two sizes I tried on, I was visibly bummed. It wasn't worth buying the jeans, even on sale, if they didn't fit better.

    I also took two skirts back with me, same skirt, two different sizes. One of them was bound to fit, right? No. The larger one was tight and uncomfortable. I came out of the dressing room and said to my shopping companion, “I feel fat.”

    I am not fat. But it can be frustrating.

    I am all for standardized sizing in pants, but am not quite sure how it would work with items like dresses.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  5. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    Banana Repubilc is the worst offender of size inflation. Their XS shirts fit me like a tent. And, I'm nearly 5'10 and a regular healthy weight. In no world am I ever an XS. It makes me take all of their clothing unseriously. Because I am tall, I also appreciate standard sizing when buying pants. It saves me a LOT of grief when I can see up front the pant has 34inch inseam before dragging myself to the fitting room to be disappointed with a 30 or 32 inseam. I'd really like it if more pants had waist and inseam sizing in inches, like some brands of jeans do.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  6. Megathy says:

    I think it all depends on how you feel about your body. There have been times when I've been really secure with how I look, and I don't mind going up several sizes to get the fit just how I want. There have also been times when I've sat crying in a dressing room because the size I want doesn't fit, and I can't make myself go get a bigger size.

    From my point of view, I 100% wish there was standard sizing. I HATE buying an adorable dress on sale online, and then getting it to realize it won't fit. Also, for my personal sanity, I don't own a scale, and standardized sizing would give me a realistic idea of my weight fluctuations.

    Finally, it's totally psych warfare. A ploy to make everyone feel skinny. And most people don't mind.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  7. Adrienne says:

    I've saw an interview with Emme (remember her?) when she was launching a clothing line. She said the sizing issue was a huge point of consideration. Do you cut clothes more generously and have smaller numbers or do you make them more true to size? The way your sizes run can actually make or break a clothing line.

    A few weeks ago, I found a conversion chart for US, UK and European sizes. It was insane. In the days of internet shopping, I can just as easily purchase something from a European vendor and unknowingly order the wrong size. There are also issues when stores like Marshall's and TJ Maxx get in UK clothes. They always place them in the wrong section. A UK size 8 is going to be a size 6 in the US.

    There are tremendous amounts of psychological issues when it comes to clothing sizes for women. Retailers know this and play with our minds. I wish we'd go with the European system and face the harsh truth. Shopping would be sooo much easier.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  8. Colleen says:

    Companies look it as helping the bottom line. For instance, if I'm a size 8 at J.Crew and a size 10 at Banana Republic, you can bet that I'll be more likely to make J.Crew my go-to place because knowing that my pants are a size 8 does make me feel better. I don't think I'm alone in that.

    Standardized sizing would be a dream come true – for online shopping, gift-giving, etc. I wonder if would be possible with women's clothing because there are so many style of pants, dresses, skirts. I can usually wear a smaller size in higher rise pants becuase my waist is smaller than my hips – which is where the lower-rise pants hit. Same thing with A-line skirts vs. pencil skirts, button-down tops vs. non-button down. Men's fashion just seems more standardized in general, making it very easy to standardize the sizes.

    And I would be royally ticked if I went up in sizes as the result of standardized sizing. As it is, I started working out and watching everything I eat because I refuse to buy clothes in double-digit sizes. That sounds really shallow, I know, but that's coupled with a strong history of adult-onset diabetes triggered by weight gain in my family. Watching my clothing size and paying attention to how my clothes fit helps me see when I need to start taking better care of myself.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  9. MidwestChic says:

    I think that standard sizing for women is a fantastic idea. In my mind, retailers would get more of my money because I would have to spend less time trying things on, and more time picking items. Most women know what looks good on them and what doesnt (or at least they should have some sort of idea).

    I am 5'8″, 125 pounds… small by anyone's means, and finally coping with the fact that I simply will not gain weight when I actually want to. I know for most women this is a dream, but it is nearly impossible for me to find something that actually fits, its a nightmare! Most department store brands are spot on with what I think a small shirt should feel like. But I bought a new sweater the other day in a small and it is absolutely huge. Brands need to stop with the size fluctuations. WHO CARES if you're a small or an XL. As long as you know what looks good on you and you wear it with the upmost confidence, no one is gonig to wonder what size your blouse is, they are going to think you look chic and stunning.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  10. TrailBlaizer says:

    Interesting subject!

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  11. R says:

    I used to work at Abercrombie (I know…I know…) and we would literally tag clothing incorrectly. Every size 2 would have a size 0 tag, and so on. The management called it 'Vanity Sizing'.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  12. VA says:

    Another issue with women's clothes is that it just seems like women come in more “shapes” than men. My friend and I might be the same height and weight but still need totally different sizes because of how we want things to fit in the bust, waist, and hips. I would love it if women's ready-to-wear had standardized sizes, but no way is the basic waist/inseam or neck/sleeve measurement going to cut it for our gender.

    I really try not to worry about the size number. There was an episode of What Not to Wear where Clinton told the shopper, paraphrased, “I know you really want to be a 'size 6.' But if you would buy a size bigger, you would LOOK smaller because your clothes aren't stretching over every bulge and jiggle.” Amen, Clinton.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  13. k-t says:

    Men's casual wear is now experiencing the joys of vanity sizing. My husband has not changed size since graduating college (38 regular jacket, 32×32 pants), yet now has to buy his casual tops in a small and his swim trunks in an XS. I've lost count of how many swimsuits I've bought him that were supposedly for a 32″ waist that would literally fall off of him. Luckily men's dress clothes are still tailored to the true measurements.

    My frustrations with size inflation include the inability to purchase vintage clothing online, or try new brands. I don't care too much about the size on the label, as I gauge my weight goals by clothes that are already in my closet.

    Another challenge for “standardizing' women's sizes is that we don't all have the same waist-hip ratio (or bust-waist-hip, to make it even more complicated). By most size charts I am about a 10 in the waist and a 4 in the hips. I know that some brands fit me pretty well, and some I don't even bother trying on because I know their fit model is completely different from my body. If all manufacturers had the same waist-hip ratios, tailors and seamstresses would be VERY busy. And my near-instant gratification of buying clothes would be gone.

    I would wholeheartedly support accurate measurements in the garment's online description (bodenusa.com does this and it is really helpful) and on the hang tag for brick & mortar shopping. Heck, if stores could just start with accurate pant lengths, that would be an easy place to start.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  14. Belle says:

    I think most of the concerns about the difference in women's body shapes can be fixed by going to a tailor. I've never understood why women just REFUSE to have something taken in. If the dress fits hips, waist and is too big in the bust, don't give up on it. Tailor it.

    TAILOR IT!

    Sorry, pet peeve freak out.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  15. K says:

    I want standardized shopping and, when possible, I want it to be a reflection of an actual measurement instead of an arbitrary number. Your co-worker is 100% wrong about the way I shop. I still want to look good, but I am not interested in figuring out my size on a garment-by-garment basis. It's absurd that I have to bring 2 or 3 sizes of every item with me to the dressing room and then still have to ask a busy sales clerk to bring me a different size.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  16. jenny says:

    I agree with VA. Women come in more shapes than men, I think that's a big part of the problem. For example, in some designers I wear a size 4 in pants because they cut their legs generously and that's the biggest part of me. In others, I wear a size 6 because their legs are skinnier, and then the waist is a little too big. Some designers have “hippier” pants than others and I have to go down a size because I'm fairly straight up and down. Men don't seem to have this problem, and it's actually a major reason I've mostly moved to wearing skirts – the fit doesn't have to be as precise.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  17. Allison says:

    Standardized sizing would be wonderful, but I'm not sure it would work for women. I have hips and I am an athletic build. If pants aren't cut for hips, I have to size up. (Thank you Banana Republic Jackson fit, I love you.) So even if there were standardized sizing, I'm not sure it would be as fantastic as it is for men. Women come in more diverse shapes, and we wear clothes closer to our bodies. Men generally wear things looser, and don't have a woman's curves, so waist and length, or sleeve and neck is the only measurement they need.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  18. Allison says:

    Oh sorry, it took me so long to type, that by the time I posted I was repeating VA!

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  19. Kc says:

    This is one of my pet peeves that I rant on every time I go into stores, Ann Taylor especially. At 5'6″ and healthy weight, but little waist and a tad hippy, I should not be a size 0. Really, Ann Taylor? You are ridiculous, and I am not buying your vanity sizing nor implied flattery.

    I want to buy pants in a waist size (real measurement like inches please, not made up numbers) and length (also in a real measurement please). To accomodate the differences in shape, that is when cut and style comes into play. “Please give me a 27×32, curvy fit (or whatever name the store would call it) pant. ”

    It would work with skirts too – just order in waist size.

    Shirts? Instead of neck and arm length, why not do ladies in bust and arm length? Shape differences again taken care of with shirt style. “I'd like a 35×31, slim fit shirt”

    Dresses should likely be bust and waist as well.

    Stop pandering to overweight Americans already, clothing industry. Team up with sanity and health. Maybe if we all had to be serious and know our waist sizes, we couldn't turn away from the fact that most of us are over the recommended 35 inch waist. That might be enough to alter some people's eating and exercise habits to scooch them back from the brink of heart disease. Number one killer of American women. Not to mention ease of finding clothes that fit well between different stores and different seasons.

    Belle, I hope you forward on these comments to some clothing industry association representative. Who knows maybe we can start a revolution of logic!

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  20. The Dude says:

    A dude here to chime in and let you ladies know you're not alone. Our stuff varies quite a bit from brand to brand as well. Even with our supposedly standardized dress clothes, a 16.5 in. neck in Brooks Brothers fits completely different than one from Ralph Lauren. Sometimes a brand will fit perfectly for years (I'm looking at you Gap jeans) and then all of a sudden, they're a debacle of epic proportions.

    I totally get the psychological issues and yeah, even for dudes it always feels good to buy a smaller size. But even that pales in comparison to how good it feels for someone to tell you that you look good. So, buy what fits, get it tailord for you, cut the tags off since it is now sized for you and rock it out.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  21. A says:

    “and we wear clothes closer to our bodies. Men generally wear things looser, and don't have a woman's curves, so waist and length, or sleeve and neck is the only measurement they need.”

    This. Unless a guy is getting his suit tailored to fit like a GQ model, mens suit can accommodate several inch variations in the butt/thigh/hip region. This drape would be frumpy on a woman, and its the reason I have to get pants tailored, or more accurately, rebuilt (and a major reason why I buy mostly skirt suits).

    As many have stated, this vanity sizing can literally eliminate an entire class of people from buying your clothes. As it is now, Banana Republic, Anne Taylor XSs are often to big for me. I remember the year I went into BCBG, with a BCBG size 2 pair of pants purchased previously on, and found I was swimming in the new seasons size 2s. Size is just a number. Its ridiculous that I can't buy clothes at some stores just bc you can't accept your weight gain and still need to see a size 6 no matter what.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  22. LL says:

    Just chiming in to agree with a point that Aliison and VA made earlier. While standardized sizing would be nice for women, i'm not sure there's a way to do it. An athleticly-built size 4 looks totally different than a “skinny fat” size 4 — they fill out clothing differently. Designers have in mind the body they're dressing. At the other end, women's bodies change because of childbirth — at the same weight pre-baby, I'm now a completely different size (bigger) because my pelvis is actually wider than it used to be. I've finally started taking my measurements and looking at the size charts when ordering online because its the only way I can figure out what size I actually am. Now if only designers could actually follow their own measurements — the lady at JCrew actually told me to try on 4 of the identical item/size because it can vary. Not exactly a vote of confidence for their quality control.

    Actually Belle — I'd love to see you post about taking one's measurements — where exactly is my “waist” (low/natural/high?), “hip” (high hip? low hip?), “thigh” and “bust”? I've seen the “hip” described as the widest part within a few inches of your pelvic bones, but what I consider my “hips” are lower than that.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  23. Belle says:

    I don't understand the argument VA is making, and here's why:

    Yes, women are built differently. Some are slim, some are curvy and some are in between. Currently, if I go to the store to buy a t-shirt from J.Crew, I'm buying the same size small that my slim and curvy counterparts would by. So how does having a standard size for a small (say 34″ bust and 27″ waist) across multiple retailers change anything?

    I'm not saying our shirts can be 34×27 or 38×30, but a small, a med, and a large could be standardized across brands right?

    Also, I think men's sizing guides on bottoms (skirts, pants, etc.) would be Ah-May-Zing.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  24. Shannon says:

    All I know is, in college I wore a size 6. Fifteen years and 20 pounds later, I'm a…size 6. I buy a lot of my clothes online (better sales, more variety) and I have to sit at my desk with a measuring tape, reviewing size charts.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  25. kat says:

    I have a range of sizes in my closet (the fat pants, the aspirational slimmer pants and everything in between) and I'm always tempted to take all of the tags out of my clothes once I buy them. If it's pretty meaningless, why let it bother me?

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  26. CS says:

    I'm really happy to hear other people get frustrated with vanity sizing. I'm fortunate that I've been a size 0, 5'4″ 107-110 pounds for the last decade. I love to online shop and– because I have a small bust and go straight up-and-down, I'm usually pretty confident that a 0/XS will fit. Except, nowadays, when I order from J.Crew or Banana Republic, everything is absurdly big– what the hell am I suppose to do– buy childrens clothes? Also, for somewhat obvious reasons, I havent spoken up, I just suck it up and take it to the tailor.

    In an ideal world, there would be standard sizing. Dresses should be in numerical sizing 0-14 and tops in XS-XL or 0-and so forth. All sizes should be the same measurement. Obviously, pants are trickier as we do have different shapes. I do think pants should be waist size (25, 26, 27 ect.) and inseam (so tall people can find pants and short people dont have to have them hemmed).

    And, most importantly, women should (and thankfully sounds like, at this point in our lives, most of us do) derive self confidence from their accomplishments, friends, hobbies they enjoy, exercise, how a dress fits, ect. and not from the number on the clothing.

    ….it would probably help the environment, too, if things were in standard sizes we wouldnt have to keep shippng clothing back that doesnt fit!

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  27. Anna Della says:

    My roommate in college–a failed ballerina with an extremely serious case of anorexia nervosa–was obsessed with American Apparel tank tops. Why was she downright enthusiastic about paying $20 for what was basically a Fruit of the Loom A-Frame undershirt? What Fruit of Loom calls an XS and sells in packs of 3 for $3.99, American Apparel deems an XXS–and homegirl loved/craved that extra X. As a result, vanity sizing strikes me as kind of insidious (in addition to frustrating), but I completely understand why retailers do it.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  28. Allison says:

    Clarification on the point I made that was the same as VA's:

    If a size 4 was the same waist/length across all retailers, you still couldn't be sure that you are a four. Personal example, I am a size 4 in the Jackson fit at Banana, but a 6 in Martin fit, because Martin is a straighter cut and is too tight on my booty, and Jackson is cut for hips. So even if sizes were standardized, you would have to try things on. Does that make sense? If someone is busty, just knowing a size M shirt is so many inches long wont help, they need to try it on the see if the V is too low, how the shirt hangs on them, etc. Although standardization would still be great, I don't think it would work for women as well as it does for men.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  29. Ginny says:

    As a so called “plus sized” shopper, I see things from the opposite side of the spectrum. I don't think that I'm what most people would call a fat girl, but I am pretty muscular from college athletics, and I have a large frame. That being said, it is downright demeaning when I can't find clothes at stores like J. Crew, Banana, etc., because they're all tailored to smaller women. For as much as some commentors say that the clothing industry is tailoring to “overweight Americans” with vanity sizing, I have seen the exact opposite. Size 2s are now 4s, 4s are 6s, and so on and so forth.

    So yeah, I think it would be great to have standardized sizing, though I doubt that will ever happen.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  30. Jaime says:

    I second the request for information about how to measure. I honestly have no idea where or what I am supposed to be measuring, and the size differentials between manufacturers are getting worse.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  31. Kc says:

    Crud, I knew my off-the cuff comment was going to get me in trouble. From both sides of the spectrum of sizes, consumers would be better served if sizes reflected actual measurements rather than an arbitrary numbering system. An inch or a centimeter isn't going to change.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  32. prosecutordc says:

    On a separate note…even bras (which appear to be standardized) vary across brands and even within brands. Its very frustrating. I believe I'm the same size and then I buy a bra online and nope…to big or too small. Often I own the same one at home or am wearing it that day! It makes no sense.

    Also…on the tailoring point. Some women's clothing is so poorly made that you can't possibly tailor it. Wouldn't it be nice to have women's suits you could get tailored (like men's suits) but they don't leave the waists of pants or the jackets in such a manner to easily do such things. Besides, for men, stores throw it in. Why should I spend $400 on a new suit and then pay another $100 for someone to tailor it.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  33. Sarah says:

    Great timing of your post! I would love to have standardized sizing. I just discovered that I need to return a new JCrew suit jacket due to sizing issues – in this case, because the size I ordered online (same as my other two identical jackets, which fit perfectly), is too small. When retailers change sizing, it makes it harder to order comfortably online. I'm tired of guessing.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  34. ~M says:

    The idea of vanity sizing is insulting. It says women are stupid and will believe anything they are told. Yes, I'm working on losing some weight right now and yes I wish I was a little smaller, but what I really want is to know that when I buy an 8 or a 10 I am getting roughly the same size clothing every time. I bought a jacket from Ann Taylor in a size 6 this past fall. I have very broad shoulders and haven't been a 6 since middle school. I haven't bought anything there since.

    January 21, 2011/Reply
  35. LS says:

    This is a fantastic discussion! I'd like to offer another petite perspective.

    As I think you all have concluded here, standard sizing could be fantastic but because women have so many styles of clothes and body shapes, it probably wouldn't be as simple as it is for men.

    What would make sense, as I think a few ladies have pointed out already, is for retailers to stop increasing the sizes every season. I'm 5'0″ and 105 lbs and find it infuriating that 00s at almost every major retailer are absolutely huge on me. Almost every work appropriate item that does come close to fitting has to be tailored. I'm not freakishly small; I can probably name at least a dozen female friends that are my size or smaller but retailers are slowly but surely phasing out clothes for women of my stature. My mom has kept some of her old clothes so I know for a fact that 20-30 years ago I would have been a 2 or 4. I am dreading the day that size inflation gets so bad that I can't even have clothes tailored because there will be so much extra fabric. What then? Custom clothes? I can't stand it when sales people suggest children's clothes. Little girls do not have hips and chests!

    Overall, I'm extremely frustrated with the sizing situation as I know women of almost every size and shape are. What do we do? Boycott?

    January 22, 2011/Reply
  36. lorrwill says:

    Ms. Belle, you pet peeve is exactly why I could care less what number is on the label. If it fits, it fits. If it is close, a good tailor can finesse it.

    What REALLY pisses me off is that I can not use a size chart to buy my clothes. I purchased some pants by the size chart that technically should have been a tad small (enough for shape ware to make right) and when I tried them on, I was swimming in them. As in 3 – 4″ too big in the waist and 3″ to big in the hips and thighs. And guess what? That is the smallest size that store carries.

    I am NOT abnormally small. I am just smaller than “average”. Which brings the to the answer to your original question about standardized sizing. Would I like it, yes! Is it feasible, oh hell no. It would based on an average, yes? Average for whom? And at what age as bodies rearrange with the decades.

    I would much prefer if clothiers made clothes that matched their size charts. Meaning if I buy pants in the size for a 26″ waist, the actual garment waist will be closer to 27″ – 28″ which is standard ease for pants and skirts and the garment would be constructed to be altered, if needed. And so on for other clothing items.

    Sigh.

    January 22, 2011/Reply
  37. lorrwill says:

    Oh Belle,

    “I'm not saying our shirts can be 34×27 or 38×30, but a small, a med, and a large could be standardized across brands right?”

    Not unless each is for only 1 size per category*. For instance, currently a lot “small” clothes are for sizes 4 – 6. By definition then a size small needs to be large enough to fit a size 6, and is therefore too large for a 4 unless you want baggy clothes. Granted that same small may be tailorable for the size 4 woman, but then what does the 6 who needs a bit of tweaking do?

    *And the actual garment is a true reflection of the measurements stated in the size chart.

    January 22, 2011/Reply
  38. claire says:

    JCrew I believe does (or used to) offer free tailoring on its suits, at least in some locations; if they hadn't at the time I wouldn't have spent $400 on a pant suit. The problem is that while the higher-end stores for women offer free tailoring, ALL men's stores of every price point offer it.

    January 22, 2011/Reply
  39. Rory says:

    I'd like a standardization of sizes as well. One of the biggest problems I forsee would be for the women who are in the size 16-20 bracket. Many of them can fit into the largest sizes at J.Crew/Ann Taylor/Whatever, but if a standardization was to happen, they might end up in polyester pants from Lane Bryant. This, obviously, would cause much unhappiness. There's very little style or substance to plus size clothing, basically every store and designer sells the exact same boxy t-shirts, ill-cut pants, and cropped hooded sweatshirts.

    Belle, if you ever want some posts on plus size clothing, let me know. I'll gladly write you some!

    January 22, 2011/Reply
  40. AnnS says:

    Another “plus size” reader here. My problem is that rarely can I find shirts that fit my upper arms- yes, I am athletic and have muscles not pencil thin arms. Don't even get me started on finding nice clothing that fits my bust. I don't understand why a size 12/14 bottom fits perfectly, but the corresponding tops are so small (especially in the aforementioned upper arms). I have a very proportional figure, but most companies seem to cater to pear shapes.

    January 22, 2011/Reply
  41. Heidi says:

    Working in retail, I know that there is a science behind shopping – why people buy things and how people shop. Men don't like variety thus it's easier for them to shop – fewer options, more colors. Women like variety for the most part. As far as sizing? Vanity sizing. It's a damn shame too for all the comments above – I'm anywhere from an XS to a L depending on where I shop – and even at jcrew, some of their smalls are fit like larges, so i have shirts from JCrew that range from XS to M.

    Some sort of across the board sizing would be nice – thankfully where i work we have amazing sizes so I know i'm a size 6 in pants and a size 6 or 8 in tops depending on how i feel that particular day or the style. Still that's pretty consistent given other stores inconsistency.

    it wouldn't be that hard to make an across the board sizing – if a 0 is an xxs, 2 xs etc…up to a 14 or whatever. yeah sure women come in many shapes and sizes but so do men. there's no reason the fashion industry can't agree on one set of standard sizing for women. I mean, I'm short, with a curvy/athletic build and somewhat wide hips, so i know what works for my body, it won't be the same for someone who might be taller with a flatter chest and a more squarish build. Part of it is knowing what works for your body, just because there are many shapes of women doesn't mean they can't get a standard bust size for a size 6 or size small.

    January 24, 2011/Reply