No sign of autumn in Sydney as yet, although there was a smattering of rain today. Despite the humidity I decided it was a sign to pull out my favourite chambray shirt and rock the ankle boots that I was hankering to wear since I chose them for my autumn capsule.
But I’d like to take the time to talk about sizing, especially sizing for clothes.
You see, the H&M pants I’m wearing were actually my mum’s – while she was in London a couple of years ago she snapped these up without trying them on. She figured, hey they’re a UK 12 [size 8 in the US] and I’m an Australian 12, these should fit fine.
Of course, as soon as she gets back to Australia they don’t fit, by any stretch of the imagination. I’m normally a size 8-10 in Australia, and when I tried them on they fit perfectly. So how is it that a simple pair of black pants clearly marked as a size 12 turns out to be two sizes smaller than it actually is?
You would have heard about vanity sizing – when clothing manufacturers mark clothes sizes smaller than they actually are so you feel good about yourself and buy the product. Here’s an excellent article which demonstrates the change in sizing over time and the pointlessness of standard sizing, because clothing manufacturers simply don’t follow it.Indeed, I have an example of vanity sizing in my essentials capsule, with my Gap legging jean being size 25. Now there is no way in this living and breathing world that I am a size 25 in any other clothing label – I would barely be able to fit such pants past my thighs – but when I tried my usual size 28 in this style I was swimming in it. My husband, in the meantime, has a size 36 waist and you know what? Pretty much every pair of pants he’s bought in that size fit him perfectly.
There are several issues surrounding sizing – the fact that there is no longer an “average” female body; the rise and rise of fast fashion in that the manufacture and movement of clothing out the door by the “average” female consumer is more important than taking the time to make quality, well-fitting garments; the stigma that still surrounds sizing beyond double digits which is the true reflection of today’s “average” body; and, although there are sizing standards to be followed, most clothing manufacturers simply choose to ignore them.
One outcome I’d like out of this capsule wardrobe experiment is to be more intentional in my clothing purchases when I go shopping – this includes assessing the fit and cut of clothing. More often than not I would spend a quick lunch hour popping into a clothing store or mindlessly surfing an online retailer, then buying something because it was cheap and I was half-interested in it but without actually trying it on, only to be donated a few months later as I really didn’t like how it fit. In fact, wearing these pants that my mum gave me, I’m finding that the fit and style doesn’t suit my body shape (but they’re the only black pants I have and I need them for work – damn this shopping ban!). With inconsistent sizing in mind, perhaps it is a good thing in that it means taking the time to physically go into a store, trying something on, deciding if it fits well, determining if it is a well made piece of clothing, and assessing if I really need that item of clothing (or if I’m just interested because it’s cheap). Well then, thank you clothing manufacturers, for although you are hella confusing me with your erratic sizing, you are making me aware of the importance of researching, trying on, and assessing my clothing choices for more informed and intentional purchasing.
What do you think of standard sizing and vanity sizing? Let me know! x
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