I am not your typical girly girl. I don’t gush when someone gives me flowers, I haven’t gone anywhere near nail polish since my wedding, and I would rather clean my toilets than go clothes shopping. Memories of trying on dozens of pieces of clothing and only ending up with one, or even none, in my to-buy pile just squashes my desire to even walk into a store. It seems like each time I pick up a pair of pants in what I think is my size, it doesn’t fit! While some of this may be due to vanity sizing or my changing body,1 a good part of this comes from the frustrating fact that sizes are simply inconsistent.
Years ago I walked into Macy’s determined to find a pair of jeans that fit well. I browsed each display and finally decided on a dark pair of DKNY boot cut jeans. After grabbing a few sizes that I thought might fit, I made my way to the dressing room. I experienced a Goldilocks moment where one pair was too big, one was too small, and one was just right. I spun in front of the mirror and appreciated how the jeans fit my body. Unlike the other two pairs which had me either swimming in denim or struggling to breath, this pair flattered my derriere and had enough give where I could eat an actual meal and not feel like it had shrunken two sizes. Pleased with my selection, I decided to purchase another pair but in a slightly lighter color.2
I easily found what I was looking for and started to make my way to the cashier. Not being a frequent visitor to the mall, I didn’t want to make a special trip to return it if it didn’t fit, so I thought that I should try it on just to be on the safe side. Much to my disappointment, it didn’t. This pair constricted my thighs and created an unsightly pooch of material by my lower back. I mentally raged. These two pairs of pants were the same brand, same cut, same length, same everything, except for the color. How is it that one felt like it was made for my body and the other one felt like a completely different pair of pants?
Determined to figure out the reason for such an exasperating experience, I did a little digging. The vast majority of us buy off-the-rack rather than have an article of clothing tailor-made for us. That means that our clothing is mass produced and size consistency within a brand comes down to quality control. Neither human nor machine is perfect and sometimes the product reflects that through a lack of uniformity. Our clothing is made by taking a pattern, putting it on top of a stack of fabric, and cutting through the fabric using the pattern as a guide. If the stack is not cut exactly vertical, the material on the bottom of the stack will be larger or smaller than intended.
My research did help me understand the “why” behind such a discrepancy, but it didn’t ease my frustration for shopping for clothes. I often grumble that if only women’s clothing were sized like men’s clothing where the waist and length are stated right there on the label, buying the perfect pair of pants would be simple. But alas, these issues come up even when my husband buys clothes!
The sizing of clothing will always be a source of annoyance, but I know it will drive me nuts if I let it. I purposefully leave myself extra time to find clothes and accept that I may spend hours shopping and leave with nothing to show for it. I could resign myself to buying something that meets most of my criteria and fits “okay”, but I’ve moved beyond that. Because I want to feel good about what I wear, I will only buy clothes that look good on me even if it takes multiple trips to the mall.
What are your experiences with the sizes of clothes? Please share in the comment section below.
1Thanks a lot, middle age.
2And why not? Finding a good pair of jeans is tough, so I might as well buy another. Even Thor would agree!
Thank you so much for reading my blog! I am honored that you chose to read about my experience.
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