Vanity Sizing: Are You Being Lied To?


I love shopping as much as the next girl, but I won’t deny that it can be a daunting experience. You grab the perfect pair of jeans and saunter into the dressing room, only to find yourself sucking and squeezing everything in to no end, baffled.

But, I thought this was my size?I shouldn’t have eaten such a big lunch. Have I gained weight? We’ve all beat ourselves up with that fitting room soliloquy, trying to avoid the inevitable: going (gasp!) the next size up. Believe it or not, however, it’s not you. Trust me I’m a size 4… And 10.

Introducing “vanity sizing,” a little trick meant to boost morale (and sales?) by adjusting standard measurements so that a size 12 woman could pick up a size 8 and fit. Nice sentiment, but the result is a bunch of confused women toting five sizes of the same item into fitting rooms. Unfortunately, those numbers on clothing labels are inevitably attached to self esteem. The bigger the number, the lesser you feel.

The New York Times recently released a graphic illustrating the stark differences in sizing particularly between designer labels like Gucci, Valentino, and YSL and lower priced brands like H&M and Delia’s. Apparently, a 27 inch waist falls between an 8 and 10 for Marc Jacobs, yet is a triple 0 at Chico’s. This isn’t a new issue by any means, considering a 32 inch bust was a Sears size 14 in 1937, yet an 8 in the 1967.

Luckily, there are efforts to standardize sizing once and for all with new technology. MyBestFit is a company sprouting up in East coast and California malls offering 30 second, full-body scans that provide you with your sizes in up to 50 participating stores. There’s no telling if it will catch on, and although in theory it bolsters convenience, it doesn’t get rid of the fact that we’ll still face sizing disparities among stores.

Unlike mens’ sizing, where exact inches are displayed, women’s sizing is more arbitrary, thus more damaging, if you ask me. What are we supposed to think of ourselves when we fit a size 2 in one store and an 8 in another? Then again, who says a number should dictate how good you feel about yourself? Until sizes are unified, just pick up whatever the hell you want to try on. Ignore the number if you’re smiling when you see yourself in the mirror, I think that’s a pretty good way of measuring the perfect fit.

(image via NYT)

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