While the swirl of sputtering disbelief, occasional outrage and relentless ridicule that initially greeted J.Crew’s announcement that it was adding “XXXS” sizes has subsided (turns out it wasn’t about pressuring women to be smaller, but rather to serve a more diminutive customer as J.Crew plans to extend their retail reach to Asia), at least one side-effect of the move is now manifest: J.Crew has expanded their Petite (under 5’4″) offerings to include jeans and some tees and knits. That THUMP you just heard was the clumsy end result of me attempting a happy cartwheel.
There’s been a lot of ink lately dedicated to the vagaries of vanity sizing, but as the New Yorker article linked above explains:
…the notion of “vanity sizing”—whereby retailers deliberately increase the measurements of each clothing size so that women feel better about the number on the tag and therefore spend more—is a myth, at least as it’s usually described. Because Americans have gotten heavier over time, retailers have had to adjust their sizes upward to keep their “medium,” which today corresponds to a size eight or ten in the U.S., as the most popular size. (To use fabric efficiently, Fasanella said, “you should be selling two mediums for every small and every large.”) If your weight has remained constant over many years, you might wear a smaller size today than you did ten years ago.
So it doesn’t sound like the Fashion Fairy will be granting our collective wish for universal, consistent sizing anytime soon. I’ve come to the conclusion there’s some Bad News/Good News in all of this.
Bad News – Sizes Are Meaningless.
You’ll continue to experience sizing inconsistencies between retailers, and often between styles among a single retailer or designer. You still won’t be able to walk up to a rack of pants and pick your waist/inseam measurement the way men can. You’ll still have a wardrobe in multiple sizes. You’ll still often have to take several sizes to the dressing room, or order and try on at home, to get the right fit.
Good News – Sizes Are Meaningless.
You are not a size. You can let go of the angst and value judgments about that number on the tag and can finally drop those last vestiges of measuring self-worth or success based on what size you can squeeze into. You can look at size labels as a starting point, nothing more. It won’t affect the quality of your day or week when you find out you need a different size today than you did last season. You can quit worrying about numbers and focus on FIT.
How do you deal with sizing inconsistencies? Have you found any retailers whose sizing seems to be more consistent?
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