Reader neighbourhood.gal popped this into the suggestion box:
A call to standardized sizing would be great. I am 34 years old, 5’3″, 135 lbs and I have given birth three times. At Land’s End I wear a small or extra small. I haven’t worn a small or extra small since a very bad period in high school. And the tops are still too wide in the shoulders and are too baggy on the sides. At American Apparel, I wear a large or extra large. the tops are too narrow in the shoulders and too tight around the middle. I haven’t braved their leggings yet.
Hello? I am no more extra large than I am extra small. Vanity/non-standardized sizing is ridiculous. It’s true that we should not care what the numbers say on the tags, but it can be time consuming/frustrating/disheartening to struggle through a purposeful shopping trip when you don’t know what size to begin with.
Part of me rebels against the idea of standardized sizing because I have gotten to the point where I don’t actually KNOW what size I wear, and I’m actually quite content about it. When I thrift, I seriously wear everything from 4s to 14s in both tops and bottoms, and I can’t tell you how liberating that feels. I am not my dress size, I’m just me. And I shop enough that I can typically eyeball a garment and know if it’s in the me-ballpark.
I have also learned to buy online exclusively from retailers who give me garment specs. If I don’t know the waist circumference for their medium, I’ll either query customer service or look elsewhere. The tape measure doesn’t lie, and I’m more than happy to buy a XXL if that’s what’s gonna fit me best.
But I understand the utility of standardized sizing. Not everyone has the patience to take four sizes of jeans into the fitting room, or wants to have to go through extended rigamarole to order a dress online.
The menfolk have it a bit easier since their sizing is based on actual measurements. Instead of having some phony numbering system, I’d love to see women’s wear switch over to measured inseams and waists. Dresses could be labeled according to waist circumference and hem. Shirts could be tagged by chest size and shoulder width. Not only would this enable us to more accurately gauge if a garment would fit sight unseen, it would force us to become more intimately acquainted with our own physical dimensions. And while a single dress or pant sizing number can be mysteriously loaded, a measure of inches can feel far more scientific and factual.
But I haven’t seen any indications from the fashion industry that standardization of sizes is a priority. Or even that it could be truly possible. So, irritating as it is, I’d try to make peace with the fact that nearly all of us will wear a range of sizes instead of one tidy number.
Image courtesy sporkist.