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