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What is Your True Size?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/24/2013 12:00 PM   :  687 comments   :  42,817 Views

I don’t know about you, but for the past several years clothes shopping has become more of a headache than the nice enjoyable activity it once was. Sadly, for me the fun is long gone and is replaced with countless hours of frustrations. There was once a time I could go into any store, pick something right off the rack, make a purchase and go home. But not today. That would be too easy.

Like a hunter searching for his prey, I head out early in the morning just as the stores are opening while I still have the energy for what I presume to be a day long mission. After trying pants after pants, hour after hour, store after store, I find myself literally worn out heading home more times than not dejected and empty handed.

While the styles and trends do count for many of my frustrations--I am not a BIG fan of the low rise trend--just finding a size has become a chore. In one store I can easily be a size 4, in another a size 6, and yet another I could wear a size 8. And let’s not even talk about online purchases without knowing beforehand my size in a store. Why is that?

Well the answer lies within a sales tactic that clothing manufacturers discreetly call vanity sizing.

So what exactly is vanity sizing and how did it come to be?

Knowing how women are glued to being a certain size, the clothing manufacturers researched and learned that women like being a smaller size. As a consequence, the manufacturers discovered that women are willing to spend more money just to have a smaller size on a tag. In other words if you have two pairs of identical jeans with the same identical waist measurements--one store labels it a size 10 priced for $20 and another store labels it a size 6 for $50, according to the research, more of us would choose the latter just to have the smaller size in our closet. This trend is especially more prevalent in higher end stores where sizes tend to run smaller even though they are the exact numeric size as their less expensive counterparts.

Because there is no industry standard, we, as women, must succumb to the scrutiny of looking high and low for the perfect size in EACH individual store. As a result, when I find the size I can wear at that particular store, I come home and put all the data in an Excel spreadsheet. So the next time I am in search of the perfect pant, jean, blouse, etc. all I have to do is pull out my handy-dandy cheat sheet and just pray that the clothing manufacturers haven’t decided to re-vanity size their items since my last shopping escapade.

I would like to believe I am one standard size, as it was in days of my youth, but that is now a thing of the past. This is one reason why we, as women, need to liberate ourselves from the size on the tag and just buy what fits regardless of the games the manufacturers are willing to play.

Would you spend more money just to have a smaller tag on an article of clothing? How much more would you be willing to spend for that smaller size tag? Do you find it frustrating that there is no standard sizing between stores?


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Comments

  • 637
    Oh my goodness! Judging from all the posts I am not the only one with this problem - 5/25/2013   6:05:02 PM
  • 636
    Oh my goodness! I am so glad I am not the only one who has the same problem! - 5/25/2013   6:02:59 PM
  • 635
    Who has time for all this shopping and Excel spreadsheets?
    If a person is to concerned about someone judging her by the tag in her clothes, then I say, "Cut out the tags, save the money, and if someone sees that the tags are missing and makes a remark, tell them you have decided to wield power over the manufacturers." Perhaps that's a good conversation starter and would begin a trend that would turn things around. - 5/25/2013   4:43:58 PM
  • 634
    I just had this sad experience this week. I have lost 43 pounds and have packed away all my size 24 jeans. I had to buy 22s and they are now falling off. I can take them off at night without unbuttoning or unzipping. I went shopping because the kids gave me gift cards for Mothers Day for this purpose. I went into Kohls and grabbed several different brands of jeans in 22s and 20s because I know how sizing is. I must have tried on 8-10 pair of jeans in one store and not one fit!! I was so discouraged I didn't know what to do. I decided I'm taking a couple pair of my 22s at a time to the tailor and having them taken in. The next night I stopped at another Kohls because I had a $10 coupon that was going to expire so I thought I would at least get more athletic socks. Always need those. I decided to head to the clothes dept for one quick stop. I saw a nice looking pair of navy slacks on sale. I grabbed the 22 and the 20. I went over to the jeans. I grabbed a pair of size 20 Gloria Vanderbilts (that have always been my go-to jeans), that the night before did not fit. I went into the dressing room and started with the jeans just for grins and giggles. Low and behold, that night, that pair fit. Go figure. I tried on the 22 slacks and I was swimming. I tried on the 20s and Bingo! I left there after trying on 3 pair of pants/jeans with 2 in hand! None of it makes any sense!! I love to shop online because of my schedule...can't do that anymore! I can't even go to CJ Banks online and order my shirts like I used to because they aren't even as consistent as they used to be. I might wear a 2X in one shirt and a !X in another. And if I go to JCPenneys and try on Liz Claiborne I need a 3X. Aaarggghhh!! - 5/25/2013   12:13:10 PM
  • 633
    Sounds like a great spread sheet. I would love to have a copy.
    - 5/25/2013   12:12:23 PM
  • JAMERICANYER
    632
    I won't pay more for a smaller size, but there are some people out there that are very emotionally tied to the size on their tag. I'd rather have something that fits and looks great no matter what the size tag says. I'm not sure how people end up so invested in their clothing size, but I guess it's symptomatic of what media tells us: being a bigger size = being a bad person, etc. Some people really buy into that mentality.

    It's frustrating to wear different sizes within the same store; I can deal with being different sizes in different stores to a point, but for uniformity's sake I'd like to go into one store and be able to say I'm a size 12 or whatever. What I find most helpful, though is to take my measurements once a month or so, and when I shop online look for the measurements of the clothing I'm buying. Doing that helps me get a good fit most of the time. I don't even worry about the size. In person, it's a little harder but I try to get the measurements online before going into the brick-and-mortar store. That helps a bit. - 5/25/2013   12:02:00 PM
  • CGEIGER87
    631
    Ugh yeah this such a pain. First of all, I am tall. I'm 6'4" and I'm a woman so that's the first thing that makes it hard to shop. I'm all legs. I can't buy pants at stores. Everything is online. I can buy tops and dresses at stores, thanks to the trend that everything is longer now. My suits for work have to be bought online. However, my fiance and I were talking about how funny (and frustrating) it is when shopping for clothing for me and for women in general. We went to Target a few days ago and found something that fit me in a M, L, and XL. A the same place! Some places I'm a 12, some I'm a 14 and some I'm a 16. And once in a while, I fit into a 10. I wish the government would just make things standardized in regards to clothing. - 5/25/2013   11:44:48 AM
  • 630
    I've lost 20 pounds during this school year and have gone from a 16 to a 12. I've been 'shopping in my closet' for a while now (nope, I never threw out my larger OR smaller sizes!) and decided last week to get something new for the summer. My old 12's at home were big. The 12's at Kohl's and Cato's, some almost the exact same cut and brand, were almost too tight! It's so frustrating to try on a huge amount of things just to find one or two that actually fit. So apparently over the course of a couple of years, these manufacturers have redone the cut and sizes again. I need to start sewing again.....

    The spreadsheet is a clever idea but no one should have to go to that trouble! - 5/25/2013   10:27:48 AM
  • 629
    Grrrrr, don't get me started. I have blogged on this topic and commented on numerous similar blogs. I have pants ranging from size 8 (Talbot's) to size 14 (Macy's) that fit. I have an XS sweater from Ann Taylor. Seriously. I weight about 145, and that XS sweater fits with the size S skirt. Okay, deep breath, and...out! - 5/25/2013   9:56:44 AM
  • 628
    I would not pay more so I can "pretend" I'm a smaller size. This is just ludicrous. What I would like to see is a pair of pants fit my hips and my waist since I'm all hips. - 5/25/2013   9:53:35 AM
  • 627
    As a young woman (early 20s), I found my biggest problem was when I stopped shopping at stores aimed at teens (Stitches, Blue Notes, Garage, etc) where I was a size 8 and started shopping at more "womanly" stores (Cleo's, Banana Republic, Reitman's, etc) where I am a size 2-4. - 5/25/2013   9:48:00 AM
  • DELLMEL
    626
    Great Blog. But I am so cheap. - 5/25/2013   9:11:57 AM
  • 625
    no way would I pay more for a smaller size! it won't make me be smaller or feel smaller or make me healthier, seems a silly measure. as someone that is morbidly obese, I felt regret when I went from a 2X to a 3X, but I've always found the larger sizes cost more, not the smaller ones. Now that my weight is going the other way, I will be happy to not have to pay more for the same outfit! - 5/25/2013   8:49:11 AM
  • 624
    I think it should be mandatory to make all women's clothing exact same size and on the tags. Women should not be shown they have to wear a larger size to get the better price. - 5/25/2013   7:26:43 AM
  • 623
    I used to work in a retail store and that is so true. A lot of people tend to lie about the size to themselves, even force clothes on that at glance one could tell it wont fit and do not like to hear it. They blame the designer, the cut or the fabric instead of facing the true. If your clothes in regular clothes are mostly one size then you are that size, not just one brand that tell you s smaller size. - 5/25/2013   6:09:20 AM
  • 622
    I have been wishing since I was a teenager that women would get fair and equal treatment from clothing manufacturers as men do. Why can't we all just have the waist and inseam on our pants as men. I've seen XL that is a 6-8. I think women can't be that stupid to believe they are a 6 at Neiman Markus, a 14 at Kohls and a 16 at k-mart. We need to band together and stop this practice. - 5/25/2013   3:32:23 AM
  • 621
    I agree with every word of this blog. - 5/25/2013   2:03:49 AM
  • 620
    i have an 11 in one brand that is exactly the same size as a 15 in another brand....its ridiculous, i wouldnt pay more for a smaller number. - 5/25/2013   1:08:55 AM
  • 619
    One big error in this blog is that the sizing is not determined by the store, but by the brand & designer. Going into one store you can grab every type of jeans available in the same size and some will be too big, some too small, and some just right.

    As an example, a year and a half ago I was in a store that starts with K and ends with hol's. There was an overfilled rack of nice work slacks right in front of the dressing room. I grabbed a size 6 and 8 because that seemed to be the sizes that were working for me. I ended up going back out and grabbing a size 2, which even when zipped and buttoned literally fell right off of me. The size 2 was at minimum what should've been a size 14! I double checked the sizes 3 times, even grabbing others labled at a size 2 and held them up - the vanity sizing was so ridiculous that putting them in with the 'misses' sizes instead of the plus sizes meant that no one was buying them. So the extreme vanity sizing backfired on them! (BTW, Ellen DeGeneres just did a monologue the other day about how ridiculous it is to have a size 0 and size 00, which wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for vanity sizing.)

    It's also important to note that vanity sizing is not just for women's clothes, but men's too. A size 36 pants for men means it has a 36" waist, but with vanity sizing a size 36 now often has a 40+" waist.

    As for whether would I pay more for a smaller size, NO! I'd rather go to a thrift store or discount store and pay cheaper prices for clothing (which is often made in the same horrible conditions overseas but given different tags to inflate prices) then if I really can't stand the tag I'll cut it out. No lying sizing tag is ever worth an inflated price tag! - 5/25/2013   12:28:58 AM
  • 618
    I hate vanity sizing. At some stores I'm an 8, others a 10 (most common) and some a 12. I hate it the most when I'm a different size in the same store. I'll pick up 4 pairs of size 10 jeans and only one will fit.... - 5/25/2013   12:22:07 AM
  • 617
    I would not pay that price for a lower size.....I buy what fits me. I hate clothes shopping because I have to try every pair of pants on as sizes are not standard sizing. One store I found a size 1/2 I could wear another place I wore a 0 and the last place I wore a 1. for me shopping for clothes is so frustrating...... - 5/24/2013   11:59:59 PM
  • 616
    I am much too frugal (read: cheap, lol) to pay more just for a lower size. I think it is much better just to buy something that fits well, as it will look better that way anyway.

    I find it incredibly frustrating that manufacturers mess around with sizes.

    cj
    - 5/24/2013   11:50:29 PM
  • 615
    Or they change the size of the exact same item from one year to the next. 2 years ago, I bought several pairs of yoga pants and exercise capris in size 18. They fit perfectly. Still do. Last year, I picked up several pairs of the same style and manufacturer and size, and they're all a size smaller. 18's this year were 16's the year before, which is the opposite of what this article is discussing. Really? - 5/24/2013   11:35:32 PM
  • 614
    It drives me crazy. We are fooling no one with vanity sizes and it just keeps us disillusioned at what our size really is...I suppose some can say that they are the same size as they were in highschool...not so much! I have a really hard time shopping as I live in South Korea and most stores except 2 don't carry my size. And the Big and Tall stores that they have here, (one feels good walking in those doors), carry too large sizes. I would love to shop online but vanity sizing makes it impossible. So when I go back to Canada for a visit, I stock up on clothes in my size and a couple sizes smaller as I am in the process of losing weight. Currently my size is 10, 13, 14 and 16....what's a girl to do!? - 5/24/2013   11:30:43 PM
  • 613
    I, for one, am not fooled or coerced into buying a smaller numerical size number, when very obviously my body has not changed sizes.

    In my city, there is a wonderful thrift store which benefits a worthwhile charity. Many of the wealthier women in our community donate their designer clothes there.

    I have gotten my favorites: Talbots, Chaus, and others for less than $10 per item. I could care less about the number in the label; but I love the excellent fabrics, cutting patterns, fit and style of the better quality clothes.

    I realize that buying used clothes may not be for everybody (took me a while to get used to the idea), but I love saving money, contributing to a worthwhile public cause, AND getting wonderful clothes into the bargain.

    On the whole, I find the idea of vanity pricing deplorable! How dumb do they think we are?

    - 5/24/2013   11:29:18 PM
  • 612
    I must confess, I didn't know about vanity sizing and I am probably a victim. I have not be overweight my whole life, and when I started over 10 years to put on 55 lbs, I insisted on staying in the same size. I loved stores that ran larger in some garments. I can't say I shop premium though, I hate shopping all together before I even gained weight. I'm down nearly 20 lbs now from my heaviest, but still, I loath the thought of going up a size. Now I know, I have gone up a size...lol. Jokes on me! - 5/24/2013   11:21:41 PM
  • 611
    The heck with different stores, how about some brands. I went into a local store and tried on 3 size 14 jeans, all by the same maker!

    One size fit, and the others were almost a size smaller. What the heck!! The same thing happened when I tried on another brand in the same store. I ended up buying the 2 pair of pricier jeans that were sized correctly. They fit well and I know I can buy those 2 brands at any store that carries them - I hope.

    It was one of the most frustrating afternoons I have ever spent. - 5/24/2013   10:54:19 PM
  • 610
    Vanity sizing is horrible, I hate being different sizes in different stores. But what really frustrates me is when the sizing in the store isn't consistent. I have walked into a store, picked up two pairs of jeans identical in cut, color and size and have one fit perfectly and the other I can barely squeeze into. - 5/24/2013   10:27:51 PM
  • 609
    I don't care what the size is I just buy what is comfortable and priced right. - 5/24/2013   10:23:50 PM
  • 608
    Ha! I would not pay more for a smaller size. Id leave the store and find a cheaper duplicate item. - 5/24/2013   10:14:40 PM
  • 607
    I hate vanity sizes. I know it's a lie, so it doesn't even matter. I refuse to shop at places like Lane Bryant and Torrid (I'm just about 'too small' to shop there anyway). When I was at my biggest size, I wore a size "6" pair of jeans...I didn't actually "feel better" because I knew that it actually meant size 26. I only bought them because I couldn't find my size in normal department stores. It does nothing to help me feel better. It's obvious that when you shop in a plus size store, and you're seeing "size 0" it's NOT size 0....they just think we're fools or something. - 5/24/2013   9:01:51 PM
  • 606
    Mind games. I realized some time ago that different "standard" sizes fit me differently depending on the brand. I have totally given up on buying any article of clothing online. I have gotten pretty good on sizing up things like dresses and blouses in person without having to actually try them on, but bottoms are "must try on" items. I'm not too caught up with wearing a certain size as long as the articles fit well and are flattering. - 5/24/2013   8:58:20 PM
  • 605
    I regularly buy from the same designers, so I am thrilled that I went from 6 to 4 to 2! It took a lot of work. - 5/24/2013   8:55:42 PM
  • 604
    Haha!!! Good to know! I tend to buy cheaper jeans. Especially now that I have been dropping sizes. No wonder I can fit into a 7/8 comfortable in some jeans my sis gave me, but, the 7/8 I bought for cheap is still a bit tight. Well, I have planned to wait to "call" myself a size 7 until I fit into the said jeans. Who knows maybe Ill be a 5/6 at most places. LOL - 5/24/2013   8:44:18 PM
  • 603
    As a very short woman, I have given up buying women's pants, even in petites. I buy from the boys' clothes. The pants fit much better, and I NEVER have to hem them or roll up the legs. - 5/24/2013   7:45:23 PM
  • 602
    No I would NOT spend more money to be a SMALLER size. That makes NO sense at all! Why not just write a size in the label with a marker! lol I do have that problem with some clothing given to me, 8, 10, 11 and 13 all fit the same on me! Go figure. Thanks for this blog! Have A GREAT Memorial Day Weekend! :))) - 5/24/2013   7:11:00 PM
  • 601
    This trend must explain why someone obviously larger than I am wears a "smaller" size than I do. I could never figure out how that worked. Now I know. - 5/24/2013   6:47:10 PM
  • RENATA144
    600
    Make your own clothes then you'll know. - 5/24/2013   6:21:31 PM
  • RENATA144
    599
    It seems to be arbitrary, per designer. So much for standards ! - 5/24/2013   6:20:56 PM
  • 598
    I don't care about the size number on the tag. Nobody sees the tags when I'm wearing the clothes.

    What I don't like about sizes not being consistent from brand to brand is that it makes it hard to order clothing online; I hate having to return things by mail. - 5/24/2013   5:54:07 PM
  • 597
    I always have a hard time finding jeans that fit well because most aren't made with my shape in mind, but I do find that I am generally a size smaller when I buy upscale jeans. Or anything at Old Navy. It's one of the only places where I am a size 4/XS. - 5/24/2013   5:37:00 PM
  • 596
    I have never cared what the tag says, nobody sees the tag. I care what the mirror says. Do the clothes help me look my best or not, that is what counts. Nobody else sees the size or the price tags anyway. - 5/24/2013   5:29:58 PM
  • 595
    That's the reason I always shop at Chico's - so I can wear a size 0 or 1 which is really a size 8 to 12!!!! (just kidding!)

    But seriously, one thing they don't tell us is that, (and I was told this years ago by a fashion store clerk) unless you're buying at a really high-end store, before being sewn together, individual pieces of clothing are cut out several inches deep by a huge stamp/cutter . . . the piece on the top can vary up to 1 1/2 inch from the exact same size piece on the bottom. And they're both labeled the same size. - 5/24/2013   4:47:46 PM
  • 594
    I would like the sizing to be actual. I definitely would not pay to artificially wear a size I am not. Self deception is definitely self defeat. I will get there and get there honestly! - 5/24/2013   4:16:40 PM
  • 593
    Great blog Nancy!!

    This is the first I have heard of vanity sizing but as where I walk with a notice skip in my step when I fit into a smaller size, I would not pay more. I have worn all the sizes. I have paid enough! LOL. As long as it looks and feels good I don't care what size it is. - 5/24/2013   4:15:04 PM
  • LAST20FORME
    592
    I did like the old days when you wore a certain size you knew you were safe ordering from a catalog. Now I only purchase clothes after I try them on. I just have to eye the article of clothing before I take it into the dressing room.

    The more expensive the store the smaller the size is. I don't care what size the tag says, I only care how it looks on me when I glance into the mirror. - 5/24/2013   3:20:46 PM
  • 591
    I don't find the non-standard sizes to be that much of an added hassle. Hold pants up, see if the side seams go hip to hip, and take two sizes into the change room if any doubt. In inexpensive clothes lines, the original cutting is a bit less accurate (bigger piles of fabric) and the variation from one to the next in the same size is just the price of admission. - 5/24/2013   3:11:36 PM
  • STRIVING47
    590
    I do not like the vanity sizing at all. After losing 35 lbs in total - I no longer fitted in previous size 14. I went shopping and found out that my new size was anything from a size 6 - size 10. I made a trip back to my home country and did some clothes shopping there as they are a whole lot cheaper than here (they do not have the obesity issue that the States has, nor do they have vanity sizing). I discovered that I was between a size 10 & size 12. Who knows what size I would've been over there before the 35 lb weight loss - considering my waist and hip measurements I had lost 8 inches in both places. No I would not consider paying more for clothing just because it has a smaller size on the tag, I buy clothing that fit well and are comfortable. - 5/24/2013   3:09:19 PM
  • JLANSBER
    589
    I would not pay more. I don't care what the tag says, just how it looks. It would be good if the sizing was labelled by measurement. Then it would have to be honest, lest it be false advertising. - 5/24/2013   3:04:43 PM
  • 588
    I *hate* vanity sizing! I kept a pair of jeans from a decade ago- size 10. Matches the fit of my size 8 jeans today. blah. - 5/24/2013   3:02:42 PM

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