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?
It’s called Vanity Sizing. Clothing manufacturing companies do it to sell more clothes.
Back in the day, everybody used to make his or her clothes? Actually, being back in the day, it’s more likely that the woman was making the clothes for the family, but I digress. For example, on those prairie shows, you would see people going to the general store to buy fabric for a new dress. Did you ever hear them say, mom, just make my dress a size 2. No! Each dress was fit and tailored to each person, so they could account for wide hips, or long legs, or a short torso.
So what the heck happened?
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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.
Why my 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. Duh.
There’s a great chart in an article from the Washington Post that shows just how much sizing has changed over the years. It’s crazy!
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?
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. Even the fabled Marilyn Monroe was a 12 (a 1950s size 12, mind you) and today would be considered a size 6.
What’s Beyonce’s dress size? About a size 6.
My point? There is no standard. 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.
I outline the exact steps you need to take to find a dress that actually fits and looks fantastic.
Are designer sizes different?
I should note, couture designers fit closer to a size standard, being based on measurement. 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!). Let me teach you how to take your measurements the right way!
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.
If you need help with identifying your style, start by following the link in this sentence.
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. Write your goal down on a piece of paper instead.
You are beautiful. This does not depend on the number that is sewn in the seams. Cut it out. No, seriously. 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.