You’re likely well aware that a size 8 in one store is likely entirely different size 8 in a different store. It isn’t just that there are no standard sizes among retailers (even though standardized size charts exist)—you’ll probably notice that any size 8 today is a lot roomier than it was ten years ago. It’s a practice by retailer’s referred to as vanity sizing—put a smaller size on an item of clothing, flatter the person trying it on, and hopefully, in turn, they’ll be more likely to buy it.
But just how common is vanity sizing? Social shopping network Fitbay, which connects shoppers who are similar body types, compiled data from 100,000 of its users to determine which brands are the most guilt of vanity sizing.
“There are a lot of dynamics that come into play,” Fitbay CEO Christian Wylonis told Racked. “People have a tendency to think of themselves as a smaller size than they are in reality, and there are certain brands that tend to increase the size of clothing so that people fit into a smaller size.”
As for the brands that favor vanity sizing the most? According to Fitbay’s data J.Crew, Gap, and Banana Republic are the most guilty among their women’s offerings, while Express and American Eagle are fans of doing it on the men’s side.
What’s the big deal, you are probably thinking, if a retailer is a fan of vanity sizing? Well, for one, it makes it awfully hard to know what size you are, and to shop online. “The risk associated with buying the wrong size scares people away from purchasing clothing online,” Wylonis said. “Our data looked at what sizes our users were buying and what worked best for them. Our hope is that this analysis is helpful to navigate the space and choose the right size.”
The practice, according to experts, is also creating a lot of psychological pressure on women obsessed with being a certain size, and who find themselves to be a size 2 one minute, and a size 6 the next. The impact of that is a lot of women stressing out over something that is pretty arbitrary to begin with.
Check out Fitbay’s findings to see how your favorite stores rank:
What do you think of vanity sizing? Share your thoughts in the comments!