Size matters

size chart,, © Huffygirl 2014Aha. You thought this was going to be about something else, didn’t you? But, alas, it is indeed about another very important issue of dissatisfaction for women: clothing sizes. Most women, at least in the states, have grappled at some time with the inaccuracies and frustrations of women’s clothing sizing. Unlike men, who will find their sizes fit true in almost any store, catalog or online retailer, women are constantly guessing at sizes, trying on items in every store, and mailing online purchases back because what you thought would be a size medium turned out to really be sized like a small. Sigh. There probably are a few perfect size zero women out there who don’t have to deal with this, but I expect most women know exactly what I’m talking about.

Then, there is the sizing secret code terminology. Men have it easy. Sizes are clearly described as regular, tall, short, portly (a diplomatic code word for overweight), and slim. But for women? Nooooo. I clearly remember the day I explained what women’s clothing terminology actually means to my sons. Misses or missy is code for average or regular, and uses even numbers such as 2, 4, 6, 8 etc. . Juniors is for average height but slim build, and uses odd numbers – 3, 5, 7 etc.  Petite is for short women 5′ 3″‘ and under, but of small to average build, and uses even numbers. Half-sizes, probably the most confusing of all, is for short women of stocky/overweight build, and uses even numbers with half added.  And women’s, which one might think is actually what should be for all women, is in fact, for average to tall height and stocky/overweight build. Whew. My kids stared open-mouthed at the end of this explanation, and said “nuhuh.” I concur.

Sizes such as small, medium, large, extra-large, are especially problematic. If I buy a regular T-shirt, I can probably get a small or medium. But if it is a fitted tee, I would have to get a large or extra-large. But generally fitted tees don’t come larger than large, so if the large, which actually fits more like a medium or small, is too small, I am out of luck. Case in point: The size chart above is for a pair of ladies exercise compression shorts. I had bought them before so I knew to skip the trying on and go right to my size. This can sometimes be dangerous though, as I’ve often discovered that I can wear a certain size at one store, but come back another day, still the same height and weight, and find that size no longer fits. And my size in these shorts? Large. Yep, large. According to the chart, for my 5’ 2″ height and weight, I should easily fit into a small, or maybe a medium if I want them to be a little more roomy. According to the table, size large starts for women at 5’7″ and 190 pounds, through 5’11” and 170 pounds. Most of the time I know better than to even pay any attention to size charts, but I found this one especially vexing and just had to share. Meanwhile, while I’m going through all this work to find a few things that fit, my husband can walk into any store, pick up a size 32 waist pants, and will find they fit perfectly 99.9% of the time. And I forgot to mention that all sizes change according to the quality of the store. A small in Talbot’s or Macy’s would probably be a medium or large in Wal-Mart or K-Mart. And often two identical items of the same brand and size will fit differently. I could go on and on.

So why are women’s clothing sizes so random? Part of it lies in the way clothes are made. If the fabric is at the end of the roll and the cutter is cutting out mediums, the last couple shirts will be cut a little smaller to get more product from the fabric, but still are labeled “medium.” Part of it comes from appealing to women’s vanity. I might feel better about myself if I’m buying a small instead of a medium, unless I start thinking about how my small would really be a medium or large in a less expensive store. Then, it just becomes depressing. Probably many people remember the recent brouhaha over remarks made by Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries. Jeffries asserted that A & F only carries female clothing up to size 10 (which is really a 6 or 8 in other stores) because “…we only want cool, thin people wearing our clothes…” And that about sums up the problems of women’s clothing industry.

Huffygirl in her size large shorts.

Huffygirl in her size large shorts.

© Huffygirl 2014


I’m sick of the right to bare arms

It’s the holiday season, so I thought it would be nice to have a new dress for Christmas and other holiday occasions. Fast forward several shopping hours later to find me frustrated, with about two suitable dresses from which to choose. Buying a nice dress should be easy right? This time of year every store, catalog and online shop have a plethora of dresses, with great prices and free shipping. The problem? The majority of the dressy dress choices are sleeveless. Sleeveless. For winter wear. When over half the country is covered in cold, wintry weather, and the warm locales are shivering in their air conditioning. Who started this nonsense? Of course, I blame Michelle Obama.

Media folks began noticing Mrs. Obama’s arms during the presidential campaign, but really took off following them after her husband, what’s his name, became

Michelle Obama, official White House portrait.

president. Forget about important issues like healthcare, unemployment, and terrorism – what kind of sleeveless dress is Michelle wearing today that shows off her extremely toned arms?  Fashion and fashion icons followed in kind, and now we see just about everyone prominent in the media wearing sleeveless. Morning talk show hosts, the Weather Channel people, even local news folks sometimes, and of course, that annoying combo of Kathie Lee and Hoda. Granted, many of these sleeveless folks have lovely arms, almost as nice as Michelle’s. But, hey, it’s winter. I spend about 80% of my life being too cold, even in pleasant weather, and I’m not going to deliberately worsen this by wearing sleeveless dresses in winter. It’s time for we goose-bumpled women to speak up to the fashion industry. We want sleeves! No more sleeveless-only choices. Speak up America.

© 2013 Huffygirl

Related link: Michelle Obama’s Arms




What not to wear

The logo of The Learning Channel's What Not to...

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Stacy and Clinton, stay away from me. I don’t want to let you anywhere near my closet. Why? I break all your fashion rules and I don’t care. Sure, I would like to look fashionable and great all the time. In reality though, by shopping at the clothing stores available to the average middle-American person, this is impossible. Even if you have a generous clothing budget. And especially if you have any special size needs.

I’m short – 5′ 2″, which puts me into the petite size section. I’ve tried shopping for clothes that are not petite and they don’t work. Never. Even when people convince me that non-petite dress, jacket, whatever, fits fine, I end up taking it back because it just doesn’t work. Sigh. 

Somehow the few stores that stock petite sizes decided that petite equals old. Large department stores like Macy’s have a petite selection with two or three items that anyone could wear, such as plain turtle-necks or tees, and the rest are elastic-waist pants with matching sweatshirts with a cutesy print on the front, like a  little bird on a branch or a flower. Really? I don’t even plan on wearing that when I’m 80, and I certainly wouldn’t wear it now. My best bet is Talbots, which has a wide selection of petites, although lately their styles and colors have been hit or miss. I also do a little Land’s End, but often their clothes look plain and utilitarian, a little too much like “mom” clothes.

So, I break all of Stacy and Clinton’s rules. If I find something cute and stylish that I like, I buy one in every color. Who knows when I’ll find something else that fits again? Look in my closet and you’ll find a modest selection of identical sweaters:  three turtle-necks (black, maroon, tan); two cable pullovers (aubergine and khaki); two shawl-collar cardigans,  and so on.  Add a modest collection of nearly identical black and navy pants, two similar black skirts and a collection of matching jackets, and that fills out the winter work wardrobe. Boring, utilitarian, but hey, I have to wear something.

I never wear the stylish spiky heels that Stacy and Clinton favor. Sure they make your legs look great, but they’re dangerous and hard on your feet and back. Moderate heel-height shoes are hard to find, so if I do find them, you guessed it, one in every color.

I don’t bother to buy matching bags for all my outfits. First, out here in the midwest we call them purses. Second, who has time to change her purse every time she gets dressed? I don’t have a personal assistant after all.

So, Stacy and Clinton, stay away from me. I know what not to wear but I wear it anyway. Use your energy to change America’s pitifully lacking  clothing industry instead.

The Search for a Warm Coat, Part Deux

Zipper animation

Image via Wikipedia

Round two: The Online Search

I begin my online search at the ever-popular retailer described as an “outdoor outfitter” which for the sake of confidentiality, I’ll call Ebbie Dauer. I’ve had bad luck with the fit of their clothes before and have sworn them off more than once, but since they claim to be an”outdoor outfitter” decide to give them one more try. I order two coats – a lightweight down jacket and a short parka. It takes forever for the package to arrive (which is why this story has been in limbo.) The so-called down jacket which is touted to be good to 30 degrees is very lightweight, with no lining, and for me would be akin to wearing a nylon shell. I put it immediately into the “return” pile.

The parka seems pretty warm – I’m impressed. It is down-filled, has a plush furry lining in the upper part of the jacket and furry-lined pockets. The hood is big and awkward with a mass of goofy-looking fur trim, which fortunately is detachable. Then I try it on. It turns out to be very fitted and I discover that I’m STILL have trouble with the fit of Eddie Bauer, oops I mean Ebbie Dauer clothes. I can zip it up but it’s a close fit – I’ll never be able to wear a sweater under this coat, and I never leave the house in winter without wearing a sweater, so this too goes into the return pile. I also don’t really like the styling – it’s a pretty expensive coat, but it looks like a skiing parka, with lots of extra pockets, zippers and appurtenances. And it doesn’t have a two-way zipper which I consider a major deficiency in any coat with a zipper. How are you supposed to sit down in the coat without being able to unzip the bottom? This is especially important to short people, because the coats always come down lower on us than they do on our tall counterparts.

Next I look online at Land’s End (I’ll skip the pretense of giving the retailers made up names now.) I find a coat very similar to the one I’ve just rejected. It is a short down parka, but looks a little more stylish, lacks the silly appurtenances, AND has a two-way zipper. Also it’s $79 less than the similar version at EB. It claims to be warm down to 0 to -20 degrees, but I always add at least 30 degrees to that claim, which brings it up to 10-30 degrees, which is probably about as good as I can get. So I place the order, and round three begins.–PARKAS&pCategoryId=27301&pCategoryName=WOMENS-OUTERWEAR&gpCategoryId=1&gpCategoryName=EB&catPath=~~categoryId=21153~~categoryName=JACKETS-COATS–PARKAS~~pCategoryId=27301~~pCategoryName=WOMENS-OUTERWEAR~~gpCategoryId=1~~gpCategoryName=EB&viewAll=y–PARKAS&pCategoryId=27301&pCategoryName=WOMENS-OUTERWEAR&gpCategoryId=1&gpCategoryName=EB&catPath=~~categoryId=21153~~categoryName=JACKETS-COATS–PARKAS~~pCategoryId=27301~~pCategoryName=WOMENS-OUTERWEAR~~gpCategoryId=1~~gpCategoryName=EB&viewAll=y

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Making the world a better place for women


If you could invent anything, what would it be?

I’ve been waiting for this forever, and I’m pretty sure that no one is ever going to invent it. My invention is a universal clothing sizer for women. Anyone who manufactures clothing to be sold in the USA would be required to use the universal sizer. The sizer is a combination size chart and templates that would be used to create clothing in each size. So if a manufacturer was making women’s pants, size 10, they would get out the size 10 template to cut and sew the garments. The result would be that size 10 pants all have the same length, waist and hip whether they were sold by Ann Taylor or Wal-Mart. This would put an end to each company having it’s silly sizing and fit system (“Oh, you need the Mercer fit, or the Judy fit…”)

Why do I think no one will ever invent this? High end clothiers would no longer be able to attract customers by making them think they are smaller than they are, by making their sizes oversized. Low end clothiers would no longer be able to save money by making every size a little smaller and shorter than their competitors. And the clothing industry would no longer be able to jerk women around by making them try everything on in every store because everyone’s sizes are different. Essentially, universal sizing would make the women’s clothing industry like…men’s. Yes, we women could finally say to our sweetie, “Hey would you pick me up a size 10 dress while you’re at the mall?” and “Cathy” would no longer have to agonize over buying a swimsuit every year!

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The assignment: If you could invent anything, what would it be?

© The author and Huffygirl’s Blog, 2010 to 3010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and Huffygirl’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.