16 February 2006

Measuring mysteries

Who came up with women's sizing in the US? Really, I want to know because this person should be drawn and quartered.

I just finished flipping through a Lands' End catalog that my mom thought might have something I'd want. Could it be more pastel? That's another issue though.

When I got to the swimsuits, I noticed they had swim shorts "with a stretch panty underneath." Immediately I wondered how they were sized: like underwear or like shorts? And why is there no correlation between the two?

According to a salesclerk I encountered somewhere years ago, adding 20 to a women's pant size is supposed to correspond to her waist measurement. Underwear sizing is clearly on some other scale. Obviously waist measurement wouldn't be that useful, but hip measurement would be. It's range is smaller than pant sizes though so that can't be it.

Why can't they just use measurements like they do for menswear? Waist, inseam... actually have a variety of options. Yes, some places offer long or tall versions, and most places have petite, but the same size # will vary between designers. The more expensive, the more likely the clothing will be sized so as to make you think you're fitting into a smaller size.

Is all this psychological size maneuvering really necessary? Strangely, I'm more self-conscious with women's sizing (here I mean women as female as opposed to women's, miss, and junior's sizing because I don't remember which is which). To accommodate my height in women's sizing, I have to try on sizes that I associate with being fat.

Where the hell does that come from? I know better, but it's still in my head. The measurements in men's sizing don't phase me. No doubt, it doesn't hurt that there are so many sizes larger than what I wear available.

I think women's sizing gives the sense of a greater disparity between equivalent sizes in men's. At least that's how my mind seems to process it.

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  1. It's one of the reasons I'm terrified any time I buy clothes for Katie. The guessing game on size is terrible.

  2. Absolutely. S, M, L gives you more leeway, but it's still a pain.

  3. The problem is, Women's measuring is vague from the get-go, unlike men's. I worked at men's clothiers for four years, and it was so remarkably simple to fit someone. A size 42 pant means his waist measurement is 42 inches. A 16 32/33 shirt means his neck is 16 inches around, and his sleeves are between 32 and 33 inches long. And S,M,L sizing matches these measurements for the most part.

    But, women are apparently (according to the industry) uncomfortable with big numbers like 42 or even 16, and the standards that used to be in place are not adhered to. A size 8 pant should be a 30" waist, and each size up is an additional 2" (10= 32", size 6=28", etc.)

    It's beyond frustrating.

  4. Jeopardygirl: Thanks for your insights. The theory that women are uncomfortable with big numbers is dumb, or at least flawed because these sizes have been around long enough- haven't we all internalized the new scale into skinny and large? Why not use decimals? Or negative numbers? Or flip the scale so that large sizes are small numbers and vice-versa?

    Or why not just use measurements, so we could all have an easier time of getting a good fit.