Monday, October 3, 2011

Size confusion

Recently I was shopping for casual slacks and tried on a variety of styles and sizes, starting with what I thought was my size, as usual. I have a strong habit of reaching for size 12 first. In this month's column (submitted to the Herald today), I tell why I identify with that size.

The pair of pants that fit me best was size 8. Huh? That's the second time in two months that size 8 has been the right fit. I thought the first time was a fluke, perhaps a mistake in labeling. Never before had I worn an 8. Occasionally I had bought a 9 or a 10, but usually regretted the resulting tightness and discomfort. Safer to stay in the 11-12 range, I had learned years ago. Sometimes for extra comfort I used to buy a 14 or a 16.  How could I possibly fit into an 8? What is going on? I haven't lost weight. If anything, I've gained a few pounds.

Women's clothing sizes have always been a bit of a mystery to me. I remember two different series:  odd-numbered sizes (e.g., 9, 11, 13) for Misses and even-numbered ones (8, 10, 12, 14) for Women. I had a vague idea that the difference was to accommodate differently proportioned bodies, but I wasn't sure which applied to me. Many stores fudged the difference by putting both numbers on the labels: 9/10, 11/12, 13/14. Or perhaps that was meant to be a 3rd series?  Of course there is also the common series of S-M-L XL, which works reasonably well for loosely-fitting (one size fits many) garments.

Men's clothing sizes --in real inches that can be measured-- make much more sense. Why can't women's sizes be given in inches?  That system would be more precise and consistent. It's the INCONSISTENCY of women's sizing that confuses and annoys me. The numbers seem to be shrinking.

My sister Jean, who is runs UpCycled Fashionsays, “there's now a trend to rename sizes smaller."  Some people call it "vanity sizing." Some in the fashion industry call is "size evolution."  See History of Women's Sizing part 1" (and pt. 2 and pt. 3). 

See my October column: Confusing sizes and body image.

While creating this blog entry, 
I experimented with a "new improved" format, 
then decided I preferred the original style. 
When I reverted, I noticed that the FONT SIZE had shifted to a smaller size. 
Sorry!   I've been trying to fix it, 
but the Blogger software seems to be as confused about size as I am! 


Katley said...

I've noticed this trend in the stores myself, especially with jeans. For years a size 8 fit me. Then I noticed the 8's got bigger and bigger and I was down to a 6 without losing any weight.

Another thing I've seen is that junior sizes (the odd numbers) tend to run smaller than the even ones.

Sandy said...

Here's a report (and video) about the changes in size standards for women's clothing:

It confirms my experience: size 12 became, after some years, a size 8...