Today I’m starting a series called Tales from the Shop, where I’ll share lessons I’ve learned from running my own online shop. In this inaugural post, I’ll tell you why you should never care about the size tag on an piece of clothing.
Through my thrifting adventures, I’ve learned one important lesson about brands, eras and the number on your size tag–it’s basically all bullshit.
I came to this realization long before opening my shop. My mom used to take me and my sisters shopping. During our adventures she taught me to focus on styles and fits that looked good with little regard about the number on the tag. If something looked good, she would tell me. If something looked bad, she would tell me. I always knew it wasn’t me that was the problem, it was the clothing.
Yet there are so many people out there who obsess about being a certain size. All this is further exacerbated by the mind fuck that is vanity sizing. I spend a fair amount of time explaining vanity sizing to customers, as I often get questions about measurements. Here’s a short description:
. . .Clothing manufacturers [often use] “vanity sizing,” the labeling of clothes with sizes smaller than the actual cut of the items . . . Why do clothing brands do this? It makes shopping for clothes more difficult when manufacturers don’t use the same standards for labeling, and no doubt increases return rates when products don’t fit as expected. The simple answer is that the downsized labels make customers feel good.
While vanity sizing is a relatively new term, in my travels I’ve come up with the theory that it’s been going on since the early 1990s when women’s clothing switched over to the 0-2-4 (and so on) sizing we know today. Prior to that brands frequently started their sizes at size 10. Why? Well, it’s kind of confusing, but this Time article attempts to explain the confusing evolution of women’s clothing sizing:
In 1958, for example, a size 8 corresponded with a bust of 31 inches, a waist of 23.5 inches and a hip girth of 32.5 inches. In ASTM’s 2008 standards, a size 8 had increased by five to six inches in each of those three measurements, becoming the rough equivalent of a size 14 or 16 in 1958. We can see size inflation happening over shorter time spans as well; a size 2 in the 2011 ASTM standard falls between a 1995 standard size 4 and 6.
Even 15 years after the adoption of the sizes we know today, a pair of pants labeled size 3/4 in 2015 would most closely correspond with a 7/8 from 1995. Add in psychological marketing and brand competition and you have what can only be described as a clusterfuck.
The best advice I can give anyone is to not care about the size on the tag of an item of clothing. There’s so many factors beyond your control that go into selecting what number goes on that tag, and the last thing you should do is let marketers affect your self esteem.