Size by any other name is just a tool

Why do we stress out about the number inside of our clothes?

Should size be a reflection on one’s self?

What is size anyway and how did this little number end up inside of my clothes?

Sizing of clothes only dates back to the World Wars.  The government decided that there needed to be a way to mass produce military uniforms in a gradient of sizes to be issued to the many inducted for service.  This was the first call of duty requiring the masses of all sizes and genders to join force and unite.  Prior to this, most clothing was made to order by measurement.

To meet this demand, a survey of measurements was conducted.

The averages were taken and graded into sizes that would fit a range of people.  It was found that there are certain measurements which increase proportionately with height and weight, so sizes can easily be fitted based on body type.  Over time people changed size.  Overall, the US has become taller and larger since then, however, these ratios have still remained proportionate.

Then why am I not the same size in every store?

In the 1970’s people were buying clothes for self expression and designers began to realize that women spent more money if they felt flattered by the size they chose.  This was the birth of “vanity sizing.”  Most menswear has remained true to size.  That’s why men typically wear the same or close to the same waist size in every brand.  On average women’s sizing has changed by 4 sizes since the implementation of vanity sizing.  Many bridal and international sizes are true to size, so if you are a 2 in “street sizes” as some call it, you will be a size 6 in international and bridal wear.  Not all bridal wear and international stores use original sizing, but you are more likely to find it in those genres.  I have clothes in my closet ranging from 0-6 depending on the brand.

Pattern grading
Pattern grading tool that many (including my college instructors) still use.
How sizes are graded for fit. example of digital pattern grading.

What does this all mean and how do i know what size to buy?

It means that the sizes you find in stores are in no way a personal reflection on your body type.  You should buy clothes that fit you nicely.  If you are unsure, move around a bit in your clothes.  Raise your arms like you are driving and try to sit in the dressing room.  If they are comfortable and don’t pucker oddly, you’re probably on the right track.  Ask the sales people.  They probably wear the clothes themselves, or fit many customers and will know if your clothes are working to flatter you.  Sales associates have often talked me into a different size based on the wear of the product.  They get feedback from customers all the time and they know when the product stretches for comfort and when it doesn’t.

The bottom line is… it’s not you, it’s them, so buy what makes you feel good and flaunt it!


Kate Thakkar

You May Also Like

One comment

Leave a Reply