It’s been mentioned often in the petite community, and is a contentious issue for women in general…sizing is out of control.
- Women can have anywhere from two, to four or more different sizes in their closets, depending on the store/brand. How do you shop when you don’t even know what size you are?
and in the petite community:
- Women who were once able to shop certain brands, can no longer fit even their smallest sizes.
- Adult women are forced to wear children’s and teen sized clothing.
There has been a call for standardized sizing in the women’s garment industry, and a recent article from the NY Times described the phenomenon as “vanity sizing”.
Another website, written by Kathleen Fasanella, a garment manufacturing industry insider, rebukes this and claims vanity sizing is a myth. I like her explanation for the whack-a-doo sizing in women’s clothing, and will try to do it justice with an abbreviated run-down below:
- Each brand has to decide who their target demographic is. The target age, general body-type, socio-economic status, general size range (plus, missy, teen, etc.), among other factors, all has an effect on the garment sizing. For example, a brand who’s target demographic is a young, twenty-something with no children will be sized much differently than a brand who’s target demographic is an older, forty-something who’s had children. The body type of these two groups is just different, and each brand’s sizing will reflect those differences.
- Every so often, a brand does research on their target demographic, and what her measurements are. The median size of the target demographic gets labeled as “size medium” for the brand, and all other sizes are adjusted accordingly. If the population as a whole grows larger, the brand’s target demographic grows larger, and so the brand has to re-align it’s sizing with the target demographic.
- Since each brand may have a different target demographic, the median size for one brand may be wildly different than that of another brand. Hence, you’ll be one size at one store, but a different size at another.
- The arrival of such “tiny” sizes as 0 and 00 are merely the brand’s attempt to provide sizes for women who have been left behind by the shifting of the sizing curve due to the target demographic growing larger.
But none of this makes sizing any less confusing. If you don’t fit in a certain brand’s clothing, you may be out of their target demographic, whether it be your age, body type, size, etc. But most brands don’t openly tell us who their target demographic is, or how their sizing curve compares against other brands, so how would you ever know? And if you find yourself in the middle of a brand’s sizing restructure, you may find your world crazily out of whack when “your size” no longer fits, sending you into a fitting room hell of trying to re-discover the size and fit that suits you. Not to mention, the notorious inaccuracy of brand sizing charts…sizing is a mess.
Other companies have tried to solve the problem of sizing, including a call for women’s sizes to be labeled in inches like men’s (read this great explanation as to why this isn’t feasible, and don’t forget part 2), and building complicated and expensive machinery that will supposedly align your measurements with brand sizes.
The online petite community has taken interesting steps in solving the problem of sizing for ourselves, and I’ve been watching with great interest. I have my own idea about how women can find clothes that fit, but that will have to wait until my next post… ;)
For more reading on this subject:
The Myth of Vanity Sizing – wonderful website with lots of industry insights.
Why the Smallest Sizes are Understocked via YouLookFab
How have you dealt with out of control sizing?