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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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115 Responses

  1. andrea
    andrea April 25, 2011 at 11:52 am |

    I kind of like shopping in jeans stores for that reason.. some places like bluenotes size by inch, much like with mens jeans, and also offer different fits.. relaxed, slim etc.

    I remember once buying two shirts from a consignment shop.. both fit me relatively the same way.. one was a Medium, the other an XXL. If that’s not ridiculous, I don’t know what is.

  2. Rach
    Rach April 25, 2011 at 11:53 am |

    Thanks for writing about this. It is very frustrating because it seems no matter what size you are – big, small, tall, short – it’s hard to know what fits or find a decent fit.

    Also, would you mind to add a trigger warning to this post? The detailed discussion of sizes and measurements can be very triggering to those of us recovering from or suffering from eating disorders.

  3. gretel
    gretel April 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |

    Yes. Inches! Or centimeters! Preferably both! Just please for the love of god tell me how long the pants are and how big the waist is. Also, Small, Medium, Large, etc. for shirts/sweaters? Not at all helpful when every store seems to have a different definition of what those adjectives mean.

    But all this is further complicated by industrial sewing. I learned in a class that when a pattern for pants (or whatever) is cut from a stack of denim (or whatever) by a machine, that the piece on top will be smaller than the piece on the bottom. So this explains why two size 8 pairs of the same pants at the Gap, for example, might actually be completely different sizes.

    Ugh. I think it’s time to embrace the muumuu.

  4. Emily H.
    Emily H. April 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |

    I have to order pants online generally, because I’m both plus-sized and tall. Most of the retailers don’t stock tall plus-sizes in store, and even Lane Bryant has gone through periods where they had no tall sizes.

    I can deal with the fact that the number sizes are totally arbitrary. But if you go to a store’s web site, look at their size charts, measure yourself in a bunch of places… you should be able to make a guess at which size will fit you, no? And yet the last time I ordered pants they were falling down around my ass.

    Get it together, clothing companies.

  5. Ms. Ederle
    Ms. Ederle April 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |

    Standardized sizing is so difficult for fat people because the differences in people’s proportions get magnified as people get fatter.
    For example, a thin woman with similar proportions to me might have a 1 inch difference between her hips and her waist and a woman with very different proportions who is also thin might have a 1/4 inch difference. The could probably wear the same pair of pants that fit them somewhat differently. But I have a 5 inch difference and a woman the same size with different proportions might have a 1 inch difference. We probably can’t wear the same pants.

    So designers would have to make an exceptional effort to make sizing make sense for fatter women.

  6. Orangeblossom
    Orangeblossom April 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm |

    My solution to the combination problems of different sizes at different stores, combined with being plus-sized, short-legged and wanting to find cuts that flatter my figure has been to shop at one store. I thankfully found Ricki’s (I’m in Canada, not sure if they have locations in other countries). Still not perfect as they typically carry to size 18 or 20, but they offer pants in different cuts (most styles will come in ‘short’, ‘regular’, and ‘long’). They carry current fashion, and the range of casual, business, and semi-formal. It’s the only clothing store I can walk into and KNOW that I’ll be able to walk out with something I like. Heck, I can spend 1 hour or more trying on clothes and come out loving myself instead of hating my body like when I walk into E-V-E-R-Y other clothing store (yes, even the plus-sized stores, because they don’t even seem to cater to my shape or sense of fashion).

  7. Mimi
    Mimi April 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm |

    Ugh, I’m an in-betweenie (10-16 generally) and have to seriously gird up my loins to go buy a pair of jeans, which I will then wear into the ground rather than face the trauma of having to buy some more. I can buy my husband a pair of pants off the rack because I know his waist and inseam. I can haz that plz?

  8. Becca Stareyes
    Becca Stareyes April 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm |

    Oh, heavens yes. I know I generally avoid places like Target/Walmart for bottoms outside of sweats/workout clothing/PJs/anything with a lot of stretch not because of class issues, but because their bottoms just don’t fit me*. Even heading halfway down the mall to the Sears or the Von Maur puts me into territory where I can find some set of clothing that is comfortable and fits. I memorize what brands of jean generally work on my body shape.

    It’s things like this why I avoid clothing shopping unless I have worn a hole in my pants.

    * And the tops usually are sized small, so I get to haul half a dozen to the fitting room to figure out what the heck size I am.

  9. Sara Anderson
    Sara Anderson April 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm |

    One thing that’s started to bug me is how women have to go to specialty stores if they’re not thinner than the average woman (isn’t the average woman in the US a 16?), and men still get to go to “normal” stores, even when they’re chubbier than average. I’ve been on the border between regular sizes and plus sizes for years, and I never ever know where I can shop.

  10. BookAnn
    BookAnn April 25, 2011 at 12:36 pm |

    Why can’t there be a petite store for petites… wait, those are only for 40 year olds and up in Canada pretty much. Never mind. There are a few shops like La Chateau that do cater closer, but I’m not super trendy either. Wish I was in the US, definitely more options, like Ann Taylor, for example.

    I pretty much gave up on shopping all together for the most case. I’m a petite, short and small.

    There’s a crap ton of plus sized options in comparison. For those that say I’m lucky… I’m going to have to disagree with you here, other than the fact it’s easier to take in than to add fabric. However, on petite sizes there are certain cuts and proportions on clothes that don’t look quite right and there are less options out there.

    Like I’ve said, I’ve pretty given up on most retail stores. Been currently trying to find a seamstress to custom make clothes. Expensive as hell, don’t get me wrong.

    I definitely fall on the small end, and there’s not too much I can do really. Gaining weight isn’t the option if you’re built naturally small in terms of a small frame. It doesn’t do your body good. I still think the fashion industry and the clothing retail industry is all out to lunch on all of this stuff. This may be years of frustration speaking on this one.

    Cheers!

  11. Jadey
    Jadey April 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |

    @ orangeblossom

    I’m tallish and on the small side of plus-sized (14-16) and haven’t been able to shop in a mainstream store before Ricki’s. Their sale rack has been a godsend. Decent fabrics and cuts and everything. I wish they carried an even wider range. Tall Girl is my other option, but everything there is much more expensive and the sale selection is usually smaller. Also, better for the height, but still only an average range of sizes. It does cater to older women though, so there’s more allowance for a spread of hips, thank god, as I would need to shave off bone to get into some supposedly “large” pants at mainstream stores.

    On the OP, I’ve gotten used to starting big and working my way down, which feels better than the reverse. I try not to be bothered by the numbers at all, but it’s hard to shake. The worst is starting with the largest size available and having even that not fit and knowing that nothing else in the store would – I stopped bothering with most stores when I realized how common a theme that was going to be. And that’s, as I said, at around a size 16 max, which is a ridiculous cut-off point. Even in places where the clothes did technically fit (as in I could do up the buttons), it was often a bad fit and not worth the money.

    Among the stores where I have found a good fit, I find my size doesn’t change all that much. It seems to depend more on the fabric and cut what size fits most comfortably. But that’s a pretty narrow range of stores, as I said.

  12. debbie
    debbie April 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm |

    Even stores that size by inches or centimetres have this problem. The last time I bought jeans at the Gap (which sizes jeans by inches and just a number size in Canada, not sure about elsewhere), the waist size I bought bore no relationship to my actual waist size in inches. Vanity sizing is really obvious when you look at the difference in sizing between American and European chains – I am 4 or more sizes bigger at H&M than Old Navy or the Gap. My weight also tends to fluctuate, which means that I end up grabbing a huge range of sizes when I shop. So frustrating.

  13. Lori
    Lori April 25, 2011 at 12:46 pm |

    My sisters and I are always complaining about the vanity sizing problem because we have no idea what to buy one another anymore. Great point about the high-end market: in one upmarket store in my neighborhood, where I can barely afford a shirt these days, I’m a size Large. And yet, in J. Crew, I’m a size 2 skirt, size 4 pant. What? (By the way, I’m 5’9 and 140. In no universe should that be a size 2!!!). I think women would be so happy to have sizes standardized, as they are for men.

  14. siveambrai
    siveambrai April 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm |

    Sara Anderson:
    One thing that’s started to bug me is how women have to go to specialty stores if they’re not thinner than the average woman (isn’t the average woman in the US a 16?), and men still get to go to “normal” stores, even when they’re chubbier than average.

    Truth to this. I’m a slightly shorter than average (neither petites nor regulars are the correct length) overweight (add large sizes to the mix) woman married to a tall skinny guy. Neither one of us has much luck shopping since I end up dealing with the issues others here have discussed and he usually can’t find his pant size at all. Most department stores don’t carry sizes for tall skinny men any more because they are adjusting to the changing sizes of their customer base (unless that base is female). I was really happy when my husband put on a few pounds because it meant we could go buy him some pants!

  15. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 25, 2011 at 1:43 pm |

    Bah, I hate shopping for clothes for this reason. I’ve never found clothing to fit…in the history of ever. Whatever garmet I purchase I expect to have to significantly tailor and the only tailored shirts I’ve ever owned were custom.

    And menswear is now vanity sized which is angry-making. Not five years ago I could walk into any store and pick up clothes for M. Now he has to try shit on which makes us both grumpy.

  16. Azalea
    Azalea April 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm |

    I’m with you on this but I still dont know where I would fit. I’m plus size with small arms, waist back and belly. ALL of my belts are “small” as my waist is 26 inches, my ribcage is 30. If I bought a medium shirt or a size 6 shirt I could wear it so long as I didnt button anything over my chest. Shirts that button without the risk of popping a button are usually between size 10-14. HUGE discrepency. I understand why its hard to find the right fit for me, most women are just not my size in the bust area, even women with larger waists. Which brings me to dresses. Nothing fits the way it should and I either end up with a dress thats supposed to be form fitting being baggy on my waist and back or just being too tight altogether and risk tearing or splitting it. I have no pants that fit without tailoring.

    My suggestion; because bust, hips and butt sizes vary so widely amongst women who would otherwise be the same size to allow for more room in those areas in the form of stretchy material.

  17. Elena
    Elena April 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm |

    YES! This is so frustrating and makes shopping for clothing pure hell, especially if you’re having a real “I hate my body day”. Honestly I would rather the sizes be consistent and wear a larger size regularly than have this crazy system (the reason I own clothing size 2-10…seriously, madness!). My mom had a wicked sense of style in the 70’s and 80’s, and I wear a lot of her clothes from that period (but no shoulder pads…scary). Despite the “vanity sizing” thing, her clothes from then were from sizes 4-8, and all of them fit me well. Even the tee shirts and blouses(which, in modern sizes I usually have to buy a medium or large in) are size small (2-6), and they fit perfectly (not tight, they skim the form in a very flattering way). Especially the button downs seem cut more loosely. A bunch of them (size small) are too big and swallow me up (and I’m more Marilyn than Twiggy). I feel like cuts back then erred on the generous side…anyone got any input on that? My mom claims it’s because stuff being skin-tight wasn’t in style then, and she bought quality items (which she says are always cut properly, while low quality items are cut smaller to save money). Any ideas?

  18. zuzu
    zuzu April 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm |

    Where are these stores where a 14 fits a 20?

    I’ve recently become an in-betweenie, and need new pants. I don’t have to buy them in Lane Bryant anymore — and indeed, I really *can’t* buy them there, because they’re all too big. But at least I knew which cuts there fit my shape.

    I now have to go out in the standard-sized world and figure out where the hell to find pants to fit my thighs, ass AND waist all at once. I have no idea where to even start.

  19. zuzu
    zuzu April 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm |

    Side note: A ROMPER?

    Oh, Jill. Learn from our mistakes in the early ’90s: you’ll look adorable in a white romper until you have to pee at a bar, and then you’ll regret it.

  20. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth April 25, 2011 at 2:27 pm |

    Something that makes this even trickier is that different rises in jeans require different waist measurements. Two pairs of jeans might both fit me perfectly, one with a 30 inch waist and one with a 26, if one is meant to sit at my natural waist and one is meant to rise much lower. Even knowing waistband measurements would be useless, if I didn’t know how high they were supposed to rise.

  21. Sunfell
    Sunfell April 25, 2011 at 2:45 pm |

    I have demonstrable proof that vanity sizing is totally out of hand. I’ve been whittling myself down to my old military weight, and am currently between size 10 and 16, depending on what label I’m wearing. Most of my clothes are now 12-14. I recently found a 20 year old pair of trousers from my military days that were a size 12. I could not get into them. The size 12 of the late ’80s is probably a size zero or 2 today.

    Today, I go shopping for clothes armed with my measurements (which, when I actually measure clothing in different stores- give me radically different sizes) and a list of labels who cut clothes that actually fit my curvy, short-legged shape (ralph lauren, chaps, Lee, Jones New York…). I do not understand why most trousers have a 33″ length- especially when I have a 29″ inseam. I now hold trousers next to me, and if they pool on the floor, I put them back. Tailoring does NOT make them look good.

    Shirts are a royal pisser- I have to fit my chest, so the sizes vary wildly there, too. I’ve taken to wearing more t-shirts than button blouses because they can’t get the arm diameter or button scheme right. And I won’t even go into the see-through tissue that passes for fabric these days. One wash, and that’s it.

    If someone creates a scanner booth that gets your measurements then points out the best sizes and labels when you shop, they’ll make a mint.

  22. Monday Linkspam « The Rambling Feminist

    [...] Standardizing Sizing || Feministe It would be nice if women’s clothes, like men’s, were sized in inches and were fairly standard; it would also be nice if so much value weren’t assigned to the size on your pants tag. [...]

  23. StaudtCJ
    StaudtCJ April 25, 2011 at 3:03 pm |

    I have recently discovered Target’s house brand Merona. Six different color-coded fit styles in Tall, Regular, and Short, in sizes 2 through 18, on every single pair of jeans, pants, and shorts. As a Small-waisted, big-hipped tweenie, I’m in love. Sometimes we get lucky, and I was surprised to get lucky in jeans every time at that store.

    I’ve also fallen in love with eShakti.com, and their 7.99 extra customizer option. Change length, the neckline, sleeve length, or just have them custom fit your selection to your body measurements, whatever they are, and generous returns standards.

    I don’t share this to hype those places, but to show that we are being heard. Some places are changing their methods to help this problem, and some of these are very mainstream. More stores and manufacturers need to step up to the bar.

  24. Becky
    Becky April 25, 2011 at 3:15 pm |

    I’m another Canadian who shops almost exclusively at Ricki’s (that, and online). Truth is, a 16 there is tight in the hips, an 18 is loose in the waist, and both of them are too long (even the “short” length pants). But it’s still the only physical store in the city where I can know for sure I’ll find something that I like and that comes anywhere near fitting. And really, it’s only thanks to so-called vanity sizing that I’m able to. Not that I wouldn’t buy the same clothes if the tag said 22 or 24 instead of 16 or 18. And I agree with this statement of Jill’s: “Stores should be able to cater to larger people by adding additional sizes, not just by cutting garments larger and calling them size 10.” But… I still cringe when I hear people condemning vanity sizing because – yeah, it means having to try on more clothes. But it also means that some of us who are larger have a few more options.

  25. April
    April April 25, 2011 at 3:17 pm |

    Yeah, I’ve got pants in my closet ranging from sizes 3 to 11, and they all fit me nearly identically. It’s really obnoxious. I would love if more clothing stores sized according to inches/centimeters/whatever.

    This whole thing is exactly why I don’t bother shopping online. Besides my impatience, I would just flip if I had to mail everything back because it didn’t fit, and get another size mailed back again. PITA (whitewhine?).

    Someone else mentioned clothing for petite people who aren’t 40. That brings up another good point. I’m short and smallish, and always thought the petite section of stores should be where I should shop, until I went into one and it was all khakis and cardigans and sweater sets, none of which I was interested in wearing. So I shop in the Juniors’ section now, which feels a little… well, silly, at 27. Half the shirts have ridiculous “sassy” sayings on them, all the pants have a million unnecessary pockets and things attached to them, and shorts are like, an inch long. Really, can’t I just get some fitted, bootcut jeans and a few nicely-cut, solid color shirts? That’s literally all I want! Why is it so impossible to find?!

    One other thing: what’s the deal with odd-vs.-even-numbered sizing? From what I gather, even numbered sizing is for people who have hips, and odd number sizing is for those of us who are nearly rectangular (that would be me). Is there actually truth to this, or is it something else?

  26. Ashley
    Ashley April 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm |

    I’m a size 0 at most stores. However, at my favorite store which is Body Central, they don’t have size 0 at all. Their size 1 is too big.

  27. Hugo
    Hugo April 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm |

    The discrepancy between men’s and women’s sizes is certainly old, and some argue that it is rooted in a desire to protect women from having to reveal their actual measurements. A “10” raises the question “10 what”? A size 32 waist names and quantifies a real body. (Though vanity sizing is rampant in men’s clothes too.)

  28. Athenia
    Athenia April 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm |

    I would like sizes correspond to wear you put on your weight as opposed to some generic number.

    It’s silly to keep going up a size and then it fits in one area but not in another.

  29. Ellie
    Ellie April 25, 2011 at 4:18 pm |

    April: Someone else mentioned clothing for petite people who aren’t 40.That brings up another good point.I’m short and smallish, and always thought the petite section of stores should be where I should shop, until I went into one and it was all khakis and cardigans and sweater sets, none of which I was interested in wearing.So I shop in the Juniors’ section now, which feels a little… well, silly, at 27.Half the shirts have ridiculous “sassy” sayings on them, all the pants have a million unnecessary pockets and things attached to them, and shorts are like, an inch long…

    One other thing: what’s the deal with odd-vs.-even-numbered sizing?

    I do a fair amount of Juniors shopping, too. When I was like 22 I went through a phase where I decided I was too old to pick between the “spoiled” and “rockstar” t-shirts, and that I was done with the Juniors section. That pretty much left me with boutique shopping, considering my personal tastes, which gets pretty expensive pretty quickly. Now, I consider myself a selective Juniors’ department shopper. Some seasons it works, some it doesn’t.

    I was once told, though I’m not sure if this is accurate, that odd numbers are typically juniors’ sizing, and even are “adult” sized. I’m not sure if this just corresponds to the style of the pant, or if they expect you to have different proportions, or what… just something I heard.

  30. melissa
    melissa April 25, 2011 at 4:47 pm |

    I’ve seen sizes with inches be way off, and I guess it really does depend on your shape and where the garment will sit on you. It also matters if there is stretch in the item, any spandex or lycra will change after a wash. I kind of feel that with all of the variation we should just do away with sizes.

    As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder that number on the tag has meant too damn much to me. I would love to see the tags gotten rid of altogether. If you can be a 4 or a 10 you might as well not have a number at all.

  31. Ellie
    Ellie April 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm |

    melissa:
    I’ve seen sizes with inches be way off, and I guess it really does depend on your shape and where the garment will sit on you. It also matters if there is stretch in the item, any spandex or lycra will change after a wash.

    I always used to buy my jeans a little big to compensate for shrinking in the dryer. Once at the Gap, a guy working there told me to buy a size smaller to compensate for the way they stretch when you wear them; even 100% cotton jeans. Even if they fit great in the store, apparently there are differing opinions of what will fit great later?

  32. Ruchama
    Ruchama April 25, 2011 at 5:30 pm |

    As far as I know, the odd number sizes are juniors — they roughly correspond to the next even number, so a 9 is about the same as a 10, but the juniors ones aren’t as curvy.

    I really want to try one of those body scan things that tells you what size to wear for different articles of clothing. I looked up the company, and it looks like they only have one kiosk set up so far, at King of Prussia mall outside Philadelphia.

  33. J
    J April 25, 2011 at 5:39 pm |

    While the piece makes some good points, I have little sympathy for the “real” size 2 woman who has to try on more clothes than larger women. The clothing industry is, and always will be, much more concerned with skinniness (and perpetuating a desire for it) than with including larger women. So this whole “cutting clothing larger to make fat women feel good” is a farce. The clothing industry overwhelmingly caters to skinny women and always will. These size modifications still size-out the vast majority of american women.

    Lest we forget, the average “size” in this country (whatever that means) is a 14-16.

    as to class, Jill seems awfully classist herself in her discussion of the various mall brands. J.Crew is not accessible, nor is Gap. Try analyzing Old Navy and Target and maybe I’d give you credit.

    Her assessments of the size discrepancies are outrageous, also. Ain’t no size 20 woman fitting into a size 12 at J.Crew. I’m below the national average in size and I rarely fit into J.Crew pants.

    Fat acceptance is a feminist issue. And though I appreciate fashion as much as the next person (or Jill), I’m not purporting to run a nationally-read feminist blog that owes some duty to women of all sizes to be inclusive in one’s discussion. This feels like the kind of thing where the women at feministe can submit the piece, brush off their hands, pat themselves on the back for addressing women of “all shapes and sizes”, and then go off to Barney’s to reward themselves, thanking their lucky stars that they fit into a Marchesa size 6.

  34. mel
    mel April 25, 2011 at 5:41 pm |

    Vanity sizing seems to have gotten more extreme, but I feel like it’s a forever losing battle. Everyone’s going to be proportioned differently, even if labels were consistent.

    My zero boobs and long torso have an impossible time finding shirts. Oddly, my small waist and generous thighs love Gap jeans! However, not only between styles is there a variation in jean sizing, two washes in the same size and style won’t even fit the same if the materials have even the slightest difference in give. My solution so far is that I only have one kind of jean that I love and stock up on. I don’t know what I’d do if they were discontinued!

  35. Nahida
    Nahida April 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm |

    I’m petite. I’m really, really annoyingly small. And I always had a problem with petite sections because they seem to decide for you what type of cut a petite person should wear, and it’s always stuff that’s great on other people but I’m not into on myself, like short skirts and sleeveless tops. Maybe it’s just where I live. But the fact that what I should wear is dictated by my size makes me want to tear things in rage.

  36. Trigger warning | Sofiastry
    Trigger warning | Sofiastry April 25, 2011 at 6:41 pm |

    [...] had a post discussing standardized sizing, because as it is, women’s dress sizes vary from store to store. I’m not here to discuss [...]

  37. Kierra
    Kierra April 25, 2011 at 6:51 pm |

    I hate clothes shopping. I have the “shopping in the junior’s section” problem of holy-god-why-can’t-they-wear-normal-clothes?!! Would it kill them to stock pants that you can sit in without revealing your panties? I love the shirts in the women’s or petite sections, but they assume a larger bust size than mother nature blessed me with. My relatively large hips at least allow me to “barely” shop in the women’s section for jeans (which does not, for some reason, extend to slacks or khakis), but then I have the “try on 10 pairs of the same size and hope that one fits just right” problem. And then when I get home, the hubby asks what took so long…

  38. Tori
    Tori April 25, 2011 at 6:59 pm |

    In addition to the already expressed frustrations with “seen by public” clothes, I went bra shopping today.

    Were it not for some practical issues (dark bus benches in the AZ sun), I could be firmly in favor of public nudity.

  39. April
    April April 25, 2011 at 7:09 pm |

    Ellie: I was once told, though I’m not sure if this is accurate, that odd numbers are typically juniors’ sizing, and even are “adult” sized. I’m not sure if this just corresponds to the style of the pant, or if they expect you to have different proportions, or what… just something I heard.

    That’s kinda what I was thinking. A “junior”-ish body type is probably assumed to be less developed, and therefore not requiring extra hip room.

  40. Jadey
    Jadey April 25, 2011 at 7:34 pm |

    Tori:
    In addition to the already expressed frustrations with “seen by public” clothes, I went bra shopping today.

    Were it not for some practical issues (dark bus benches in the AZ sun), I could be firmly in favor of public nudity.

    I’ve needed to go bra shopping for months. Possibly over a year, although my memory seems to be in repress it all mode. But I don’t feel up to bursting into tears in a public place, I just don’t. Damn them for discontinuing the one bra that fit me perfectly and didn’t irritate the hell out of me with over-padding, under-padding, and assorted frippery.

  41. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 25, 2011 at 7:42 pm |

    Jadey: I’ve needed to go bra shopping for months. Possibly over a year, although my memory seems to be in repress it all mode. But I don’t feel up to bursting into tears in a public place, I just don’t. Damn them for discontinuing the one bra that fit me perfectly and didn’t irritate the hell out of me with over-padding, under-padding, and assorted frippery.

    Word. There was one style of bra I wore for about 8 years. But the last one started showing its age this year. After I got my new job I finally splurged and went to a store called intimacy which was a great experience.

  42. Tori
    Tori April 25, 2011 at 8:23 pm |

    Damn them for discontinuing the one bra that fit me perfectly and didn’t irritate the hell out of me with over-padding, under-padding, and assorted frippery.

    I’ve long ago given up on “fit me perfectly.” Now — discrepancies in actual measurements notwithstanding — I just want everybody to use the same damn names for the cup sizes. We seem to be pretty good with the first 4 letters of the alphabet, but outside of that** things start to get murky:

    A B C D E F G H I J K L M N (etc.)?

    A B C D DD DDD G?

    A B C D DD DDD/E*** F G GG H HH (etc.)?

    A B C D DD E F FF G GG (etc.)?

    It’s a little disappointing to find the one H-cup in the store only to discover, with this brand… that cup size? Does not mean what I think it means.

    ** My experience is with the “bigger than D” end of the spectrum. I cannot say whether this issue exists for the “smaller than A” end of the spectrum as well.

    *** Where, on the same style of bra, DDD and E are used interchangeably — and we’re supposed to divine the difference.

  43. NervousABoutAngels
    NervousABoutAngels April 25, 2011 at 8:25 pm |

    I have seriously been complaining about this for years. Men’s pants at least have waist and inseam lengths! Stop playing mind games with us and just give me some relevant information!

  44. J
    J April 25, 2011 at 8:33 pm |

    Jill: I don’t think classist means what you think it means. But ok.

    I guess all I was saying is the examples of “middle-market” and “mall-store” brands in terms of large sizing perhaps aren’t the best examples in terms of appealing to more Americans. But those are the ones used in the original NYT article, so I apologize for the oversight.
    I think the class issue comes up when we talk about obesity, which is distinctly lower class issue. And of that group, not only can they not afford designer clothes, but also brands like J.Crew and Gap.
    But again, this is a fault of the NYT article for not being more inclusive.

  45. notemily
    notemily April 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm |

    Does anyone know if sizes are more standardized in the UK? When I order a UK 14 online (say from asos.com, which offers a wide variety of brands), it always fits me perfectly. US stores are harder. I appreciate that most online retailers have size charts these days, but sometimes they give the size of the garment and not the size of the person who should be wearing it (which can be a problem for, say, things that stretch). Don’t even get me started on sites that say “runs small, please size up.” Size up from what, exactly?

  46. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 25, 2011 at 9:22 pm |

    Tori: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N (etc.)?

    A B C D DD DDD G?

    A B C D DD DDD/E*** F G GG H HH (etc.)?

    A B C D DD E F FF G GG (etc.)?

    Can I say that I really don’t understand cup sizes? Where the hell did those schemes come from? Why wouldn’t they just go straight down the alphabet? Thank god for having nearly negligible boobs. Not only can I get bras in the kids section for $7, but I also don’t have to question my grasp of the alphabet every time I need support.

    And to add to the juniors/womens conversation, I’m 24 and I feel like I’m playing dress up most of the time when I’m in the women’s department. Nothing fits right, and I assume it’s because my body has very little shape to it. I also feel like a giant creepster when I buy clothes in the juniors section, esp. suits.

  47. Bonn
    Bonn April 25, 2011 at 9:29 pm |

    Oh, don’t get me started on bra sizes! I periodically like to google “bra calculator” and plop in my measurements in every one on the first page or so just to see what sizes I get. Last time I got a variety from 32AA to 36C. Fun times.

    I’m a short torsoed, big hipped, relatively small person with no bust. If I wear petite sized jackets, the sleeves are short but the waist height is right. If I wear petite pants they’re too short, but average is too long. My inseam is about 30″. I like NY&CO’s shirts, but they do assume more boobage than I have to offer, so I often feel exposed. They do have a nice waist/hip ratio.

    The thing that irks me most about petites isn’t just that it’s all “activewear” for elderly folks, but also that you’re “petite” if you’re under 5’3″. The average American woman is 5’3.75″ … so why is 5’3″ considered “short?” Shouldn’t “average” pants all fit me perfectly? But no! They all have 32″ inseams, which is what all my 5’7″ friends have.

    I was pretty glad when I got down to a 4/6 because the inseams stopped at least being RIDICULOUS. At a 10/12 it was assumed I was super tall. Size: That’s not how it works.

  48. rain
    rain April 25, 2011 at 9:31 pm |

    If I was an alien that had to determine which human body part shows the greatest variance in relation to the rest of the body, and I had only shirts with which to make an assessment, I’d have to conclude men’s necks. Because making the same size shirt with different neck sizes is pretty standard for off the rack men’s shirts. I certainly wouldn’t say women’s breasts, since you have to go to specialty shops to get shirts with varying cup sizes. Judging by women’s shirts, women’s breasts must all be fairly close to the same size in proportion to the rest of the body, since no similar accomodation needs to be made for shirt sizing. If your breasts are larger than a D cup, you’re an outlier, and well, I’m sorry, but you can’t expect clothing manufacturers to make a bunch of shirts on the off-chance that the one-in-100,000, or one-in-10,000, or whatever, woman with a DD or larger cup, is going to come along and want a shirt that buttons in the front.

    And what is up with women’s shoe sizes. When moving up from boy’s to men’s, my sons went from a boy’s size 6 to a men’s size 7. But for my daughter, while the boy’s and girl’s sizes are the same (boy’s size 4 = girl’s size 4), the next size up from a girl’s size 3 is not a women’s size 4, but a 6. Why the hell would someone go through the effort of separating out only women’s shoes from a sizing system and assigning different numbers?

  49. ms. ederle
    ms. ederle April 25, 2011 at 10:10 pm |

    This is a really interesting discussion and I always feel like I learn so much about how clothes are made. But I just want to put out there that criticism of vanity sizing makes me a little nervous and a little sad.

    I weigh 315 lbs and wear a size 24 in most catalogs (like lands end), a 26 or 28 at Lane Bryant and (sometimes) an Old Navy XXL. It is very common for me, even at a plus size story to find something where the biggest size they carry is too small for me.

    So, Old Navy’s ridiculous sizing is annoying (why is the neck always so big on the regular t-shirts?) , but that it’s also “vanity sizing” is the reason that I can afford a wardrobe of stylish everyday clothing.

    So when people talk about ending vanity sizing and people just had to buy a size or two up from what they normally buy, I think about always having to buy the largest size a store carries and think, well shit, where am I going to shop?

  50. GinnyC
    GinnyC April 25, 2011 at 11:00 pm |

    Bra sizes I can do. I know what size I wear and what brands are consistently sized. Bras just cost way, way, way too much in my size. I have to find someplace that stocks my size (32D currently) with a nice plunge between the boobs rather than high underwires that are pokey. That task is nearly impossible except at high-end stores. I have to budget a large chuck of my annual clothes budget for bras, and I’m not even a particularly uncommon size.

    Clothing shopping used to make me feel grotesquely shaped and disgusting. It was really triggering for disordered eating. Pants are especially not fun because they are a standard clothes item, and I can’t eyeball them to avoid the ones that won’t fit. Shorts are a nightmare, and I’ve stopped wearing them. I wish regular clothes stores were like vintage and actually listed clothes’ measurements. On a positive note, I found Jones New York shirts fit me in the chest. They are expensive though, which is not good.

  51. zuzu
    zuzu April 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm |

    J:
    While the piece makes some good points, I have little sympathy for the “real” size 2 woman who has to try on more clothes than larger women. The clothing industry is, and always will be, much more concerned with skinniness (and perpetuating a desire for it) than with including larger women. So this whole “cutting clothing larger to make fat women feel good” is a farce. The clothing industry overwhelmingly caters to skinny women and always will. These size modifications still size-out the vast majority of american women.

    Lest we forget, the average “size” in this country (whatever that means) is a 14-16.

    as to class, Jill seems awfully classist herself in her discussion of the various mall brands. J.Crew is not accessible, nor is Gap. Try analyzing Old Navy and Target and maybe I’d give you credit.

    Her assessments of the size discrepancies are outrageous, also. Ain’t no size 20 woman fitting into a size 12 at J.Crew. I’m below the national average in size and I rarely fit into J.Crew pants.

    Fat acceptance is a feminist issue. And though I appreciate fashion as much as the next person (or Jill), I’m not purporting to run a nationally-read feminist blog that owes some duty to women of all sizes to be inclusive in one’s discussion. This feels like the kind of thing where the women at feministe can submit the piece, brush off their hands, pat themselves on the back for addressing women of “all shapes and sizes”, and then go off to Barney’s to reward themselves, thanking their lucky stars that they fit into a Marchesa size 6.

    Old Navy and Target? Some people can only shop at Goodwill.

    Classist.

    :::eyeroll:::

  52. zuzu
    zuzu April 25, 2011 at 11:15 pm |

    As for clothing sizes, something my sister told me she learned during her brief foray into being a fashion and marketing major: women’s clothes are designed on a fit model, who is usually a 6 or an 8. If you’re the same shape and size as the fit model, good for you! Your clothes will fit well.

    Once the pattern is made, using the fit model’s measurements, it’s sized up or down depending on what sizes are needed. Thing is, as you get farther away from the fit model’s size, the more variation you get. This isn’t typically that big a deal if you’re going from a 6 to a 2 or a 4, but if you’re sizing up to a 16 or 18, you’re going out many more standard deviations, so there’s lots more room to screw up.

    Throw in vanity sizing, and the whole thing goes to hell.

    I don’t think there are that many mass-market retailers who truly vanity-size so bad that women who were formerly size 20 can now wear a 14. Certainly that’s not the case with what I’ve tried on lately, with a couple of exceptions (Talbots and Old Navy both run rather large, with the exception of the thighs on their fucking pants – by the time I can get the pants over my thighs, I have enough room to smuggle a toddler in the waist, even when I can wear the same size in a skirt and not have so much fabric flapping around). I think the vanity sizing skews towards the lower and middle of the size range, since retailers love to have small women in their stores but not so much the big ones. Even when the big ones have money to spend.

  53. Tori
    Tori April 25, 2011 at 11:18 pm |

    Some people can only shop at Goodwill.

    That said, I loves me some Goodwill (or other thrift store; we have lots) shopping because at least then the size discrepancies make sense. I mean, if I’m weeding through not only multiple sizes, styles, and brands but also multiple decades of each of those things — sometimes with no legible tag! mystery clothes! — then it’s understandable why nothing seems consistent.

    Strangely, I do not have a harder time finding clothing at thrift stores than at stores that claim to sell my current size.

  54. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 25, 2011 at 11:26 pm |

    Jill: !!!! WHAT?! Yeah, that is not ok. I know this advice does not work for everyone, but: Girl, go to the nicest department store in your area and get properly sized. Seriously. Don’t feel pressured into buying anything, but get the right size and try on a few bras and find the ones that fit you and then search for them on sale.

    Also: Bra sizes change as you age, and as you gain or lose weight. I used to be a 34B and then I was a 32B and now I’m a 32C — not because my breasts have radically changed in size, but because I was a little rounder and then I lost a bunch of weight and now I’m evening out but my boobs stayed how they were. So get measured annually. And I rarely buy bras from stores anymore — I have two or three favorite brands, and I find them on sale and order them online.

    Also: Elle Macpherson makes gorgeous bras for hard-to-fit sizes (especially large cup sizes). They are not at all cheap, but if you have big boobs (or if, like me, you have a small ribcage) they’re a godsend if you want pretty lingerie that still fits.

    In the larger sizes this doesn’t work. At. All. I went in for a fitting two weeks ago and walked out with a 32H, 34K, a few 36s of various cup sizes and two 42EEs all of which fit exactly the same. o_0

  55. Jadey
    Jadey April 25, 2011 at 11:33 pm |

    I went to a high end lingerie store once that was having a “fitting” event (my sister and I were driving by and thought it would be a good idea). They basically just gave us drawerfuls of bras to try on (no, literally – they took drawers out of a big cabinet that had been organized by size) after a quick once-over while we were still fully clothed. Hence absurdly incorrect sizes. I am a 36C as far as I know (middle of the road, but I’m visibly lopsided as well and it’s hard to get something that fits both of the suckers correctly unless it’s the right kind of fabric), and I’m pretty sure the first drawer they handed me was the 34D or something – not a good guess. My sister got the same treatment. I guess they thought “flattery” was better than accuracy? It was bogus and unfortunate. :( I’ll find my way into a proper fitting at some point, but I’m even more self-conscious about my breasts than the rest of my body and I can’t handle the stress of shopping for bras very long. It’s just one ginormous trigger-fest. Blah.

    I don’t entirely get how getting rid of vanity sizing will get affect the actual range of sizes? I though it was the same crap selection, just with different numbers? I am not actually all that familiar with the phenomenon.

  56. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 25, 2011 at 11:53 pm |

    Jill:
    Ugh that’s annoying. My understanding is that the cup size adjusts with the band — so a 32C has a cup size that’s equivalent to a 34B, but the band is tighter (anda 32B is like a 34A cup-wise). But of course brands are sized differently, even though inches are supposed to mean things (smaller cup sizes have this problem too – I haven’t been into a Victoria’s Secret in years, but they are the absolute worst offenders in this regard and should be burned to the ground). I think the key is find 2 or 3 brands that fit you consistently, and then scouring sales online and at stores like Filene’s, which often have discount bras.

    Although again, everything is easier if you’re a “standard” size, like a 34A-D. If you’re a 32 or smaller, or a size larger than a 36 or a D cup, things are substantially more difficult. Which is why a lot of women walk around the wrong size bra — finding the right one is a real big pain. >:(

    When I was smaller band sizes meant things, but I left that world behind at DDD. The weird thing with manufacturers in the larger size particularly where you have a small rib cage is that they will continue to increase the *width* of the the underwire. So you’ll have the same underwire in a 42 as a 32. Which means that you’ll try on bras where the underwire wraps around your sizes to your back with two inch back straps. I shit you not. Or they’ll increase the underwire up so you’ll have a bra with very long back straps and underwire that pokes you in the arms it comes up so high. It would be funny if they weren’t so damn expensive.

  57. chava
    chava April 26, 2011 at 12:02 am |

    I’m trying to think of how you would do this in a commercial setting—

    For pants/skirts: Waist or low waist/hip/inseam or hem length, but that’s a tough set of numbers to stick on a sign or organize by. Organize by waist or hip size (depending on style) and then sub-sort by the other measurements?

    For tops/dresses: Bust or shoulder/waist/length? Still won’t tell you how much fabric the pattern puts in the center back (always a px for me), or if it is going to be absurdly tight in the upper arms, etc. But you’d at least have an easy way to sort by Bust/waist measurements.

  58. Sara
    Sara April 26, 2011 at 12:08 am |

    I have tried on 36As which were too big and at least one 36C which was too small, so yeah, smaller cup sizes definitely have inconsistency problems too.

    I’ve never been professionally fitted, but I don’t really understand why I would want to do that, since I have to try everything on anyway or else it’s a total crapshoot.

  59. Verity Khat
    Verity Khat April 26, 2011 at 12:11 am |

    I stopped caring (well, much) about my tag size around the time I started sewing. Because sizing discrepancy / vanity sizing became SO OBVIOUS when I started buying patterns. (Store dress = 6, pattern dress = 14, my face = O_*;) But I can’t make all my own clothes–my machine hates denim, for one–and shopping is THE DEVIL. I usually like my body. It suits me. But slip into the dressing room and suddenly I’m very aware of my many “deviations.” Nothing that’s cute fits, nothing that fits is cute, and it’s all just very frustrating and disappointing.

    Which brings me to the petite frump factor. Honestly, where the hell do the designers and buyers think short OLD ladies come from? Logically, short YOUNG ladies. But noooooo. We spring from the womb complete with droopy butts and a penchant for sweater sets. And not only are we apparently all tasteless creatures, but our hips are also halfway to our knees and our arms are proportioned like an orangutan’s. But over in the junior’s section, all the clothes come in spray-cans, soooooooo, yeah. Can’t win. >_<

  60. zuzu
    zuzu April 26, 2011 at 12:12 am |

    I have to say, I’m currently down to a weight I haven’t seen in 10 years, and I’m wearing the same size I did back then. I think if I were on the low end of the size range rather than the upper end, I’d notice more of a difference.

    Except my bra size. My tits went and got huge when I gained weight and haven’t shrunk appreciably since.

  61. Lis
    Lis April 26, 2011 at 12:16 am |

    I’m disgusted enough by clothes-shopping to pull out my sewing machine and make things for myself this year. Sizing is still a crapshoot and pattern-makers assume all women have gigantic breasts and tiny waists, but I can change the fit before the hard-to-alter bits go on.

    I think part of the essential problem is the fashion industry’s need for variety. Only so many people of size X will come to your store and buy something. If you only sold one style, you could bother to make it in every size and different cuts. Instead, you are only selling that style as one of twelve, and only for three months–so the odds that rare sizes will sell is low, and the cost of drafting the pattern to a different shape isn’t worth it.

  62. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth April 26, 2011 at 12:45 am |

    Zuzu
    I know someone who is a fit model. I always think, “lucky her.”

    Vanity sizing is a huge problem for me. I hesitate to ever bring it up on discussions of clothing problems, since I don’t want to minimize the much more difficult experiences of being plus size, or to suggest that my experiences are equivalent in any way. My problem is I have pretty much been sized out of all mainstream American brands, especially when it comes to pants, and I’m not all that particularly small (I have a slender build, but I am not tiny, plus I am 5’5″ so I can’t imagine what women smaller than me do). I actually can’t shop at Old Navy, Gap, J Crew, or Ann Taylor at all, and places like Banana Republic I can sometimes find stuff that doesn’t look ridiculously too big. Since I have an hour glass figure (10 inches between my bust and waist, 11 inches between my waist and hips), junior sections and clothes designed for teenagers are extremely ill-fitting, plus as an adult I don’t want to shop like a teenager. H&M is the only store where I reliably shop. I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that all of my pants will be at least a size too large.

    I know that ill fitting clothes are better than actually not having many options for clothes you can actually physically wear. I also recognize that I have a desirable body shape, and that if my biggest problem is ill-fitting clothes, I am extremely privileged. It is frustrating, however, that vanity sizing has meant that brands I could buy 15 years ago as a teenager at 10 lbs lighter now don’t sell things I can wear. Plus, I’m on a budget, and can’t afford to buy upscale clothing, but with the exception of H&M, I can’t shop at cheaper clothing chains, so it really limits the clothes I can buy. I wish stores would expand their ranges at both ends, to encompass more women. Also I agree with everyone who says women’s clothes should be sized in inches. The size numbers now are completely meaningless, plus they’re tied up with so much psychological baggage towards body image.

    I think another problem that is related is that it seems pants are made with some stretch in them, so after you wear them for an hour, they are at least a size bigger (I have owned two pairs of AE Outfitter pants, and they both were egregious in that way). I have tried things on in a dressing room that looked like they fit alright, but then, after wearing them for a little bit, the pants stretch out so much that they can actually fall off.

  63. Jadey
    Jadey April 26, 2011 at 7:29 am |

    @Jill

    I think that makes sense – I guess I assumed that within a store at least the sizes would be consistent, but clearly not!

  64. Sizing up | Silence is complicit
    Sizing up | Silence is complicit April 26, 2011 at 8:21 am |

    [...] check out this awesome article over at Feministe. It’s all about the difference in sizes from store to store, including how [...]

  65. Tori
    Tori April 26, 2011 at 8:56 am |

    I think the key is find 2 or 3 brands that fit you consistently, and then scouring sales online and at stores like Filene’s, which often have discount bras.

    Hrm. Yesterday, I went to all the “good bra bets” in my city (the specialty shops and department stores that are more likely to stock my size) and found zero bras in my size and zero brands that even consistently carry that size, so we might have a long way to go in that respect. ;)

  66. Bushfire
    Bushfire April 26, 2011 at 9:44 am |

    I’ve read everyone’s stories on this post, and I have nothing to add that hasn’t already been said, but I did want to express that I feel for you. I’ve been fantasizing for years about having my own sewing studio and making clothes for people who don’t fit store sizes. I still don’t own a sewing machine, but right now I am making two tank tops for myself using an old one as a model.

    If any of you have a lot of time on your hands, you can try this strategy. Take an old piece of clothing that fits you perfectly but that you can’t wear because of too many holes, stains, etc. Carefully take apart all the seams with a seam ripper. (If you don’t know what a seam ripper is, just ask for one at a sewing store, they are very common). Iron each piece of the old clothing so it’s completely flat. Place each piece on a new piece of fabric and use it as a stencil to cut an identical piece. (I pin it first so it doesn’t move around on me). Then you’ll have a bunch of identical pieces of fabric to match your old garment. Sew them together in the exact same way as your old garment was sewn, and you have a copy!

    This method isn’t foolproof, because your stitching will not be stretchy and manufacturers sometimes use an elastic sort of thing inside the seam that makes it stretchy. You may need to make your new garment slightly bigger to compensate. Manufacturers also have “sergers”- sewing machines that do special stitches that lower-end machines don’t do, so you might not be able to copy the stitching exactly (which doesn’t always make a difference, actually). Also, only attempt this if you have some sewing experience!

  67. Ellie
    Ellie April 26, 2011 at 9:52 am |

    I wore a D cup for years, and when I lost a little bit of weight they no longer fit me. At most places I can buy a C cup and it fits great; but my old favorite Victoria’s Secret hasn’t fit me since. I just can’t get into a C cup there. Which sucks, because my favorite collections of theirs only go up to a C. Yep, at 125 pounds I’ve officially sized out of some of my favorite things.

    For people smaller than the DD side of bra sizes, I’m guessing vanity sizing tends to go the other way– I apparently want to see a smaller number on my pants, and a bigger letter on my bras.

    Fortunately, I’ve discovered that Mossimo/Xhilaration bras at Target are sized incredibly reliably, and come in some really cute colors and prints. I don’t even have to try them on, and they cost 10 bucks, tops. Impulse buying of bras is a totally new concept to me.

  68. karak
    karak April 26, 2011 at 10:18 am |

    I’m extra long, extra small, with a long torso. This means most jean waists are nowhere near my waist, most boob cups are above my boobs, and my pants always come up higher on the sides than in the front and gape in the back, and I constantly have a tummy gap where my shirt and pants don’t meet.

    I’ve found Express and the Limited make clothes in my size, for my build and proportions, and I’ve pretty much stopped shopping anywhere else. No point.

  69. La Lubu
    La Lubu April 26, 2011 at 10:48 am |

    Hell yes to everything on this post! Frankly, at this point I’d be satisfied if manufacturers would just tell us what *shape* their clothes are cut for. Busty? Hourglass? Ectomorph? What?

    And why can’t women’s clothing be offered in an “athletic cut”, like men’s clothes? A small waist doesn’t necessarily mean tiny thighs.

    (Oh, and for those still shopping in the juniors department for pants in your late twenties? Trust—this doesn’t get any easier when you’re in your mid-forties. I loved zuzu’s comment about “smuggling a toddler”—LMAO!—but I knew exactly what she was talking about!!! I immediately flashed on all those times in the dressing room where it looked like I had clown pants on!)

  70. Piper Hoffman
    Piper Hoffman April 26, 2011 at 11:08 am |

    It’s the Fashion Industry vs. Women, and this is but one of the fields of combat. It is ludicrous that men can buy a garment without even trying it on and be confident that it fits, while women have to devote hours to trying on armfuls of clothes and still may walk out with nothing. See more about this at my blog.

  71. Ruchama
    Ruchama April 26, 2011 at 11:10 am |

    I’m 4’10” and very hourglass-shaped. (Think Lil Kim, with not quite as much ass.) Finding slacks that fit is near impossible. I usually end up buying a 12 petite to get something that fits my hips, but that always leaves me with several inches of extra fabric around my waist. And then, of course, I have to get them shortened, which screws up the line of the boot cut. As for shirts, every shirt I own is cotton knit. Shirts that don’t stretch simply don’t work for me. Bras, I need to order online — very few stores stock anything in a 32 band and DDD+ cup. I’ve found one bra that fits and looks good, and I just keep ordering that one, and I’ve accepted that, if I want to look good, I’ll have to pay $75 per bra.

  72. ks
    ks April 26, 2011 at 11:11 am |

    It is nice to hear that I’m not alone on the whole “can’t find clothes that fit” problem. I’m tall (5’10.5″) with a 35″ inseam, thick thighs, big hips, “I’ve had kids in there” belly, tiny waist, and big boobs. I’m kind of proportioned like one of those ancient stone age fertility goddess statues.

    Finding clothes that fit is a total nightmare. Pants are the absolute worst–they’re almost never long enough, and god forbid somebody make pants that are meant for someone who has very long legs *and* hips *and* a small waist. Everything either rides up horribly, so I have constant wedgies, or falls down. As soon as the weather gets warm enough, I basically live in skirts, because at least then I only have to worry about fitting through the hips and I’ve learned to deal with the fact that I will never have anything that is longer than my knees (things that are meant to be mid-calf length on most people tend to land at just at or below my knees, everything else looks like a mini on me). Unfortunately, I live in the cold, frozen north and it is just too cold for skirts for 6 months out of the year.

    Bras and button down tops are another problem. I used to be pretty flat chested, until I reproduced, and now I am popping out of 38DD bras, but the range in sizing is amazing. I’ve started investing in stretchy camisoles so that I can just leave the top few buttons undone, as that is the only way I can wear those at all. Also, I very much wish that somebody would make a supportive bra that is *not* a minimizing bra, because I like the big breasts that came with the kids and quite frankly, I don’t want them to be minimized. I’d like to show them off. Also, a supportive sports bra would be greatly appreciated. It hurts when these things bounce and I’ve not been able to find anything that I can afford that will keep them in place while I’m on the treadmill.

  73. zuzu
    zuzu April 26, 2011 at 11:26 am |

    La Lubu: Hell yes to everything on this post! Frankly, at this point I’d be satisfied if manufacturers would just tell us what *shape* their clothes are cut for. Busty? Hourglass? Ectomorph? What?

    Lane Bryant introduced their Right Fit line a few years ago, and it was FABULOUS. You shopped by shape and by size, which meant that your clothes fit.

    Then they went and changed it, and things didn’t fit as well. Also, I’m not in their sizes anymore, so it’s all sort of academic (and now I get to start my search all over again!). But really, what’s needed are multiple options for both cut and size, because there are predictable shapes that women come in, and just buying by one number isn’t going to fit everyone.

  74. zuzu
    zuzu April 26, 2011 at 12:09 pm |

    ks: Also, a supportive sports bra would be greatly appreciated. It hurts when these things bounce and I’ve not been able to find anything that I can afford that will keep them in place while I’m on the treadmill.

    They’re expensive-ish (about $50), and ugly as hell, but Enell bras are like the Promised Land for big-titted athletes. I currently have F (or DDD, if you please) cups, and am training for a half marathon, and THEY DON’T MOVE in the Enell. Well, well worth the investment.

  75. Mimi
    Mimi April 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm |

    I also live in skirts the second I can, like ks, and Old Navy has a wonderful semi-a-line skirt that fits my fat belly, covers my long torso, and doesn’t look super strange with my short legs. That’s right, I’m 5’6″ which is slightly above average for women, my husband is 5’10” so when we’re standing up, he’s four inches taller than I am. He has a very very short torso and extremely long legs, so when we sit down? I’m four inches taller than he is – we call it a party trick because it’s so unexpected, but it does actually reinforce to some people that yeah, not lying. Also people have different bodies.

    But I can still buy him pants without him having to try on eighteen different kinds, and he can’t do that for me. Bring on the standardizing!

  76. ks
    ks April 26, 2011 at 12:46 pm |

    I will look into those, thankszuzu. I’ll have to save up a bit, because the kids need new shoes and I don’t get paid in summer (such is the life of the adjunct faculty member–I’m still unsure if I’ll have a job at all come fall, what with the budget cuts and all), but I’ll definitely look into those.

  77. Danie
    Danie April 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm |

    Vanity sizing also totally pushes out petite girls. If you’re short and slim, you’re not going to fit into any brand that uses vanity sizing.

    When I lived in Canada, I saw a lot of girls like me around, but no one made clothes for us. We just had to shop in juniors, which isn’t really appropriate past a certain age. Plus junior clothes aren’t cut for hourglass figures (nor should they be!) I find sizes much more consistent in Germany, but unfortunately Germans are also TALL. I’m left with ordering stuff from the UK (Top Shop makes a petites line!) and France. Also luckily, I can sew well so when I’ve got time I just make stuff.
    I also filled out a -little- more in my mid-20’s so that helped. But I feel that should just make me a size or two above the smallest, not mean I can -just- fit into things!

  78. Morgan
    Morgan April 26, 2011 at 3:03 pm |

    @notemily

    From the sound of the comments here, I think UK sizes must be more standardized – admittedly, I’m pretty average-sized (UK 12 clothes, 34D bra, most of the time), and it may vary more if you’re particularly small or large (I have noticed more variation in shoe sizes, where I’m at the large end of women’s sizes). It varies between shops but I think that’s more to do with shape than size – there’s probably one or two measurements that the sizes match on, but different shops make different assumptions about breast size/shoulder width/waist-hip ratio/thigh size/etc. I can usually rely on a 12 being roughly the right size, and if I have to size up or down (and never more than one size either way) it’s more a question of ‘this fits most places but won’t do up over my boobs’ or ‘this is really baggy around the waist’ than ‘this is overall way too big/small’ – i.e. it’s a shape issue, rather than a sizes-are-meaningless thing.

  79. Ruchama
    Ruchama April 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm |

    Danie:

    Plus junior clothes aren’t cut for hourglass figures (nor should they be!)

    Why not?

  80. chingona
    chingona April 26, 2011 at 7:41 pm |

    Well, the thing about being professionally fitted is that it doesn’t cost anything, and if it’s done right, it should at least narrow down what you have to try on.

    I had a great fitting when I was shopping for nursing bras this last time. I went from a 38DD to a 34DDD, but the bras felt SO. MUCH. BETTER. But my whole life, I was a 36D, and my boobs were bigger, so I was only looking at bigger sizes. I wouldn’t have tried on a 34 without it being suggested by the woman who did the sizing.

    It is a really confusing and weird sizing system, but my experience has been that there is at least actual measurements behind bra sizes. However, the relationship between band size and cup size is rather opaque. (As band size goes down, cup size goes up. Your cup size shouldn’t be consistent across band sizes.)

    I still had to try on the bras, and some brands fit better than others, but I got much better fit this time around than any other time I was bra shopping. Some fitters don’t really know what they are doing, but the ones who do, provide a good service, IMO.

    Sara:
    I have tried on 36As which were too big and at least one 36C which was too small, so yeah, smaller cup sizes definitely have inconsistency problems too.

    I’ve never been professionally fitted, but I don’t really understand why I would want to do that, since I have to try everything on anyway or else it’s a total crapshoot.

  81. La Lubu
    La Lubu April 26, 2011 at 7:59 pm |

    Ruchama, junior sizes aren’t cut for hourglass figures because that’s the whole point of junior and misses sizing—if there’s only eight or nine inches difference between your waist and hip measurements, putting on pants cut for an eleven or twelve inch difference between the waist and hips gives you the “clown pants” look. Very dumpy, very frumpy. Not attractive.

    At the same time, not all of us “graduate” into hourglass figures. I weigh more than I did when I was thirteen, but I have the same proportions. That means it’s hard to find pants (other than blue jeans) that fit. There’s no difference in styling between junior and misses blue jeans (as long as you stick to classic styles with no embellishments), but it is harder to find slacks without cutesy-poo trendy-teenager stylings. I can find classic, clean lines in the misses department, but they don’t fit my body because they’re cut to accommodate larger hips—they end up looking sloppy on me. If I get them to fit my hips, I can’t button the damn things.

    And when you’re in your forties, looking for pants in the juniors department is no fun. I’m not there to dress “younger” than my age; I’m there trying to find something age-appropriate that’s cut to fit.

    (the whole “dressing younger than my age” thing is something I could go on and on and on about. Yes, I’m over forty. No, that doesn’t mean I’m ready to start dressing like my 92-year-old grandmothers.)

  82. CassandraSays
    CassandraSays April 26, 2011 at 11:20 pm |

    RE Juniors sizing, it’s really the best option for women who’re petite and under say a size 8 in size. If you’re willing to wade through all the tees with silly slogans, sparkly crowns, etc, and you want something cheap. Doesn’t necessarily exclude the busty either – I’m an E cup and usually have no problem finding juniors clothing that fits, unless it’s a top designed to have built-in support, at which point the manufacturers apparently think that someone with my boobs should be wearing a clothing size 5 sizes bigger. But that’s the case with brands aimed at adult women, too.

    With juniors I don’t think it’s that it’s cut for a less curvy body in general, because usually there is some boob room (tank tops with shelf bra excepted), it’s more that stuff tends to be cut smaller in the butt and thigh than women’s sizing. Which suits me just fine, since I am of the no ass tribe.

    Also, I have to say, I’m officially a petite (just over 5ft2) and it kind of irks me to see other petites claiming that we’re worse off than those who need plus sizes. Um, no. Our options aren’t always great, and often require hemming, but at least we have options. I know that having to pay extra to get every single pair of designer jeans hemmed is tedious, but it beats the hell out of literally not being able to put on a single item of clothing in most stores, which is the situation the genuinely plus sized are facing.

    Now both petite and plus size, that really must be a huge pain in the ass, since most plus brands seem to assume a customer who’s fairly tall.

  83. CassandraSays
    CassandraSays April 26, 2011 at 11:29 pm |

    Also, in terms of bra sizing variations, the most consistent in terms of sizing I’ve found is the Freya brand. Which I plug a lot, but there’s a reason for that – it’s rare for me to pick up a 34E and not have it fit. They actually appear to exercise some quality control. Also the fit is supportive without looking like it was designed by the Army Corps of Engineers. They’re expensive though, so worth waiting for sales. Watch out for styles with a high center gore if you’re short, though – that always makes me feel like someone is attempting to saw into my ribcage.

  84. Gabrielle
    Gabrielle April 26, 2011 at 11:56 pm |

    I am so right there with everyone on this post!

    1. I never fit into Juniors clothes even when I was a Junior. I cried in dressing rooms a lot in high school. Not fun. So making those jeans and shirts a little more accessable for girls with curves? Would be lovely.

    2. I wear a 38-DD, and the only bra I enjoy wearing (and isn’t minimizing!!!) is from Lane Bryant. I looovvvve their bras. When they have sales I just buy the exact same bras I already have, just in different colors.

    3. I am also an in-betweeny, which is sometimes awesome bc I can fit into the smallest sizes at Torrid. And there’s usually a lot available in that size when they have sales due to women my size not feeling comfortable going into a plus size store. I don’t have this issue.

  85. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth April 27, 2011 at 1:02 am |

    With pants, one thing I would recommend is learning to hem your own. Hemming pants is really easy, requires nothing more than a needle and thread (you basically do a very fine basting type stitch), and takes about five minutes per leg. In fact, the hardest thing I’ve found it getting the confidence to actually hem it yourself without worrying you’ll ruin them.

    One more thing on fit, again, I have “classic hourglass” proportions (breast and hips are either exactly 10 inches bigger, or hips are 11 inches, depending), and I have the damnedest time finding pants that are not either gaping horribly at the waist, or which are not too curvy (creating the frumpy look La Lubu points out). Like it seems like pants are cut for women with a 8 inch waist hip difference or a 13 inch difference. I don’t know if others have found this, but I have yet to find pants that are cut for the supposed hourglass figure. (Though…I know straight up and down people have problems, and really curvy people have problems as well! I always read things where people assume clothes are designed for hourglass shapes, and I want to say, “oh man, I wish.” Designers have found the “magic pant” design which manage to fit no body shapes at all)

    Finally, I don’t like “curvy” as a euphemism for fat, because, as fat acceptance people have pointed out, it’s a body shape, not size. There are curvy people at all sizes. You can be a 000 and still curvy, or a size 30 and not curvy. But, it seems like if there are “curvy” cut clothes, they don’t really come in smaller sizes.

  86. Shoshie
    Shoshie April 27, 2011 at 10:03 am |

    ms. ederle:
    This is a really interesting discussion and I always feel like I learn so much about how clothes are made.But I just want to put out there that criticism of vanity sizing makes me a little nervous and a little sad.

    I weigh 315 lbs and wear a size 24 in most catalogs (like lands end), a 26 or 28 at Lane Bryant and (sometimes) an Old Navy XXL. It is very common for me, even at a plus size story to find something where the biggest size they carry is too small for me.

    So, Old Navy’s ridiculous sizing is annoying (why is the neck always so big on the regular t-shirts?) , but that it’s also “vanity sizing” is the reason that I can afford a wardrobe of stylish everyday clothing.

    So when people talk about ending vanity sizing and people just had to buy a size or two up from what they normally buy, I think about always having to buy the largest size a store carries and think, well shit, where am I going to shop?

    I have to agree with this comment. I don’t know, I understand the frustration of trying to find cute, attractive clothing, but I find it hard to get worked up about availability of small clothes, just ’cause you all have so many options! I’ve lived with three very small women, two under 5′ and two who were very thin. As much as they complained about finding clothing, they just…went to the store when they needed something. That was it. And maybe it took a little longer and maybe they needed to hem the dress or cuff or whatever, or take in the waist. But if they needed pants now, they could totally get them.

    I live in a major city, but there is 1 Lane Bryant and 1 Avenue. In the whole city. They’re both over an hour away by bus.

    I dunno, I guess I have no problem assuming that an off-the-rack item of clothing may need to be altered to fit perfectly. To be honest, most of my unaltered clothes (meaning, actually, most of my clothes) DON’T fit perfectly. But I can put them on my body and walk outside without feeling ashamed. It’s sad that I have that low a bar, but then, that’s why I’m learning how to sew. And I pray that stores don’t decide that vanity sizing is stupid so I don’t get sized out of Lane Bryant and Avenue and get forced into buying all of my clothes online or making them myself.

  87. molly
    molly April 27, 2011 at 10:13 am |

    Elisabeth:
    Finally, I don’t like “curvy” as a euphemism for fat, because, as fat acceptance people have pointed out, it’s a body shape, not size. There are curvy people at all sizes. You can be a 000 and still curvy, or a size 30 and not curvy. But, it seems like if there are “curvy” cut clothes, they don’t really come in smaller sizes.

    YES. Exactly. I’m 4’11” and small-framed and, in my opinion, curvy. Few stores even carry 00 petite pants & dresses. I have some luck in the juniors department, but those clothes really are not cut for someone with hips and breasts. Comparing the “dress pants” I found at Gap Kids with the 00P slacks I found at Ann Taylor is like night and day. Even properly made adult petite clothing, though, doesn’t exist in a range of shapes. I don’t claim to know anything about the larger petites sizes, but the clothes I try on almost always seem to be designed for women with “boyish” figures. God help the short, thin, busty woman who needs to wear a blazer to work.
    It baffles me, though, that I am only occasionally lucky enough to find clothes small enough to fit me when I am really not outrageously small. I’m small framed and smack in the middle of the “acceptable weight range” for my height. And yet I can fit a fist in the waistband of the smallest size offered at JCrew (I checked — I’m wearing my size 24 Jcrew jeggings right now). I know this all sounds like self-deprecating “backdoor bragging” — oh, woe is me, I’m too small for clothes! — but whatever is going on with women’s clothing sizes, it is really impeding my ability to dress myself.

  88. Danie
    Danie April 28, 2011 at 3:34 am |

    Ruchama: Why not?

    By “juniors” I’d meant kids clothes….like for 10-12 year olds.

  89. Danie
    Danie April 28, 2011 at 3:43 am |

    Also, even when I was a teen and wore real “juniors” clothing, it wasn’t so much of an issue. Those sizes worked perfectly for me. it’s only when I got a bit older and got hips and hit a 32 C cup size that I found that adult clothes were too big, but teens and kids clothes (length and waist-wise, I could wear a kids size 10) weren’t accommodating my bust and hips. But I feel that’s really a problem with adult sizing, not sizing for younger people. I feel that as a woman in my late 20’s, I should be able to buy clothes made for grown-ups!

    Someone mentioned that UK sizing is much more standardized. I agree. I find the fit of clothing in the UK to be much more consistent. They have a much larger variety of bra sizes as well. It seems that there’s more of a standardized average and a whole bunch of stuff around that as well such as petites, tall, plus, junior, etc. And places like Top Shop carry all these sizes! If the UK market can handle this, why can’t the US/North American? There are MANY more people in North America, so surely that means more buyers?

  90. The Sizing Nightmare: What do Labels Tell Us about Ourselves? | Adios Barbie

    [...] Jill at Feministe adds that, “There’s a class aspect to this as well. Higher-end brands, I’ve noticed, are sized much smaller than middle-market and mall-store clothes. The cuts, too, are different — mall-store brands like Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and J Crew are not only wildly over-sized as a general rule… but also cut wider in the waist.” [...]

  91. The Sizing Nightmare: What do Labels Tell Us about Ourselves? | Adios Barbie

    [...] Jill at Feministe adds that, “There’s a class aspect to this as well. Higher-end brands, I’ve noticed, are sized much smaller than middle-market and mall-store clothes. The cuts, too, are different — mall-store brands like Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and J Crew are not only wildly over-sized as a general rule… but also cut wider in the waist.” [...]

  92. Margie
    Margie April 29, 2011 at 9:14 am |

    The Canadian Gov’t requires product labels to be bilingual. Why don’t they require labels that list an ‘equivalent’ size that would match a standardized Canadian system of sizing for women’s clothing? That way the women who like to think they wear a size 2 can buy a size 2, but the women who want to know what size it really is can see the additional information on the label.
    Also, why aren’t women’s pants designed such that it is easy to adjust the waist by taking in or letting out the back seam?

  93. andrea
    andrea April 29, 2011 at 12:33 pm |

    Kids and babies have it so easy. If you’re 18 months old, you wear 18-months clothes. If you’re three, you wear a size three. Oh to be a small child again.

    (before anyone jumps on me, I’m kidding here. Kind of.)

  94. andrea
    andrea April 29, 2011 at 12:35 pm |

    Margie:

    Also, why aren’t women’s pants designed such that it is easy to adjust the waist by taking in or letting out the back seam?

    We need to those awesome adjustable bands they’ve started putting in kids pants. “Oh, man.. I feel fat/bloated/whathaveyou… let me let my waist out a button or two…”

    See? Kids have it all, man.

  95. Lovely Links: 4/29/11
    Lovely Links: 4/29/11 April 29, 2011 at 3:19 pm |

    [...] Some progress in the battle for standardized clothing sizes. Interesting commentary on the ramifications of vanity sizing here. [...]

  96. Michelle
    Michelle April 29, 2011 at 5:53 pm |

    Sunfell:
    I have demonstrable proof that vanity sizing is totally out of hand. I’ve been whittling myself down to my old military weight, and am currently between size 10 and 16, depending on what label I’m wearing. Most of my clothes are now 12-14. I recently found a 20 year old pair of trousers from my military days that were a size 12. I could not get into them. The size 12 of the late ’80s is probably a size zero or 2 today.

    Oh yes! I have a pair of trousers that I bought almost 15 years ago labelled a size 8. 10kgs and 10 years later I went back to that same store and bought trousers in the same style in an 8. What the ….?!

  97. isidore
    isidore April 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm |

    Kathleen Fasanella is an expert on this and has written about this much better than I can (http://www.fashion-incubator.com/archive/the_myth_of_vanity_sizing/), but there is no such thing as vanity sizing. Men can go buy a pair of pants based on two measurements because men’s pants are less fitted and hang straight. Women’s pants are more fitted around the hips and crotch (front and back) and often also come in at the knee, so now you are talking about four or five measurements or more. For shirts it is just as bad – you have waist, bust, length, shoulder width and arm circumference. Then if you want a dress, combine both of those lists. Can you imagine retailers trying to carry every combination of those measurements? Instead they do body studies on the demographic that they are trying to reach and center their sizing range around that data. That’s why Chico’s pants are sized larger than pants from Hollister – one is trying to attract older ladies and the other is for teenagers. The best thing you can do is take your own measurements, compare them to the charts on store’s websites, find the stores that cater to something as close to your shape as possible, and stick to those stores. You just can’t expect to walk into any and every store in the mall and be able to pick up anything and everything that catches your eye and find it in your size.

  98. Elise
    Elise April 30, 2011 at 11:26 am |

    I have worked with designers on sizing and fitting. For one most brands have an idea of what shape, size, age their customer is and try to gauge the fit accordingly. Two, most people may not realize that most brands don’t just grade up a garment to make it a plus size. In my experience just grading a pattern up will not help it fit a plus sized woman. Most brands are creating new patterns and fit garments on a plus size model. And of course this all costs more money and most retailers and clothing makers are concerned about the bottom line. This is probably why it is harder to find plus size versions of some brands.

    I’m not saying that retailers should leave plus size and larger size ladies out in the cold. I bordered between missy and plus sizes for years and it was sometimes difficult to find flattering, stylish clothing. I just want your readers to realize there are other factors to take into account. Women’s sizing is and will always be a complicated thing and I’m even frustrated by the problems of finding garments that fit.

  99. MelD
    MelD April 30, 2011 at 3:46 pm |

    I also analysed sizing from vintage sewing patterns for my own interest and what I was familiar with as a young woman in Britain in the 80s.
    One key seems to be that sizes used to be 2″ apart, so 32-24-34 then 34-26-36″ followed by 36-28-38 etc. Now I see many charts where waist, bust or hip are only 1/4″ difference – hence tiny sizes. At the end of the day, few brands cater for hips much less than 34″ (probably realistic for a grown woman). This size difference was traditionally 6cm in Europe, I’ve been told.
    [At first I used to wonder how a 26" bust could be considered a bust measurement for a woman on a size 2 or 0 till I realised about the reduction in inch difference! In my book, anything under 32" is a chest, not a bust...]
    Then there is the waist thing. My mom was slim in the 50s/60s but not ultra-so yet she had a 23″ waist. That would now be considered tiny. But then she was a normal 34-23-36 figure and even considered herself well-covered as a British size 12. I do know that it used to be that British sizes allowed for the “traditional” pear shape rather than a perfect hourglass (e.g. 34-26-36 rather than 34-24-34).
    In addition, after years of low-waisted pants and skirts, it seems to me that a waist measurement is no longer a natural waist measurement, but taken lower – maybe another reason why pants sizes given by inch don’t always fit?
    And then the issue of different cuts in fashion, never mind millions of different women’s figures and their proportions…!!
    No wonder we don’t stand a chance.
    At 18-20 I considered myself almost plus-size with measurements of 35-28-37 at 5’2″ because at that time (early 80s) in Britain, that translated to a size 14 (36-28-38) and plus-sizes began at size 16. Gosh how I wish I still had THOSE measurements LOL How sad. (Funny how back then I didn’t even know anyone who was a size 8 and now sizes 6 and 4 are common on British clothes shop rails…).
    The body scan sounds highly entertaining but I can’t see that it will help much that we are a different size wherever we go!

  100. MelD
    MelD April 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm |

    PS and don’t get me started on breast fit… I cannot for the life of me find a bra that fits, is the colour I want (skin) and has no padding, decent straps, firm fabric and yet support at the sides etc. etc.
    Plus shirts that button over my bust (D-DD) are always too big in the shoulders, despite my broad shoulders??? Sometimes the sleeves are still too tight when the shoulders are too big… UGH.

  101. Jackie
    Jackie May 1, 2011 at 3:15 am |

    Elise:
    I have worked with designers on sizing and fitting.For one most brands have an idea of what shape, size, age their customer is and try to gauge the fit accordingly.Two, most people may not realize that most brands don’t just grade up a garment to make it a plus size.In my experience just grading a pattern up will not help it fit a plus sized woman.Most brands are creating new patterns and fit garments on a plus size model.And of course this all costs more money and most retailers and clothing makers are concerned about the bottom line.This is probably why it is harder to find plus size versions of some brands.

    I’m not saying that retailers should leave plus size and larger size ladies out in the cold.I bordered between missy and plus sizes for years and it was sometimes difficult to find flattering, stylish clothing.I just want your readers to realize there are other factors to take into account.Women’s sizing is and will always be a complicated thing and I’m even frustrated by the problems of finding garments that fit.

    Perhaps designers should learn how to make different patterns for plus size women, instead of whining about how hard it is, because they can’t just grade up. I’m sorry to sound so harsh, but when there is usually only one store willing to have your size clothing actually in the store, it gets very frustrating.

    There are many more plus sized women out there, then there are women who fit the thin ideal. Perhaps designers should learn how to make clothing for their clients, as well as clothing for the run way. There is a problem if designers are unable to design clothing for almost half the population, because it’s too hard. I really am upset at this nonsense that plus size women should understand how difficult it is for designers, to design clothing that fits a real live woman, not a hanger.

    They should understand the reality is more and more people are coming to the realization that starving yourself down to a designer friendly size is unhealthy. Far more unhealthy than being plus sized. So either they get over it, learn to design clothing for plus size women, or they should leave the business. Do we really need these narccistic designers, that belive their creations are so good that they’re worth starving to wear? I think there needs to be a change in the fashion industry. More designers willing to make clothing for women of all sizes, and less pathetic whiny crybabies, bemoaning how unfair it is that all people can’t fit their body ideals.

  102. Erin
    Erin May 1, 2011 at 7:14 am |

    I have a pretty rare body type – super short waisted, very short rise, almost no difference between hips and waist, big boobs, big shoulders. So there are NO clothes out there that are trying to cater to me. Clothes never fit me properly – from when I was a super-fit 10 to now when I am an 18. I find that there is some use in “repurposing” – a jacket that’s supposed to be cropped will look normal on me, low rise jeans were the best thing since sliced bread because they actually fit me properly, etc.

  103. Elena
    Elena May 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm |

    what about Levi’s “Curve ID” jeans? I’ve been wanting to test them out…maybe?

  104. mztress
    mztress May 1, 2011 at 7:17 pm |

    Let’s just preface this by saying that I hate clothes shopping. I am short (5’3″), with a round stomach, wide hips, a large ass, a 40D bust, and thick thighs. Approximately 40% of the time size 16 pants fit around me, but the legs are waayyy too long. Forget “petite” length; it’s never going to happen. The rest of the time, I’m randomly trying on different sizes from different brands (from 14 all the way to 18, or some equivalent).

    Clothes in Lane Bryant and Torrid fit me beautifully…and look attractive in the process!!! The catch: I can’t afford any of it.

    What can I afford? Target. The place where I have to go back and forth from “normal” sizes that are too tight/too long/too low-rise/too random in sizing/too unflattering, etc., to plus sizes which are too baggy/too long/unattractive, etc., to maternity, where I can get a good fit 65-70% of the time, but all the expecting moms look at my obviously non-pregnant body and immediately conclude that I’m a freak.

    So what’s the magic clothes shopping solution for someone like me?

  105. Taylor Serenil
    Taylor Serenil May 3, 2011 at 12:19 am |

    I have a terrible time finding jeans and bras that fit. Jeans because although I’m not anywhere near a stereotypical hourglass, I am large (roughly a size 18) in inconvenient dimensions. Specifically, the vast majority of jeans that fit over my hips and thighs are significantly too big in the waist (to the point that most of my current jeans I can pull down over my hips without actually unbuttoning them).

    As for bras–my actual measurements have me at a 38-40 C. However, what actually feels comfortable is generally more like a 42C, and I have at least one 44C. Again, I am not built to “standard” dimensions–finding something where the band size fits and the cups fit my breasts properly without wrinkling because they’re too large is usually an adventure in frustration. I was very happy that my most recent Target trip yielded two 42C’s (different colors, same style) that actually fit me comfortably, both band size and cup size.

    Interestingly, Target’s guys’ T-shirts generally fit me better than the ones that are theoretically designed to fit female bodies. As a result, I have a number of relatively unisex T’s from Target’s men’s department. Which makes very little sense from an objective viewpoint, given that I definitely have more breasts than an average male-bodied person.

    Like several other people commenting, I don’t do the Lane Bryant/Torrid thing, primarily because of pricing. Also, a lot of “plus sized” clothing does not match my personal style. I feel for women who are size 20 or bigger–at least I can find things at Target or Wal-Mart most of the time, but that’s not necessarily true for people even a few sizes bigger than I am.

  106. Taylor Serenil
    Taylor Serenil May 3, 2011 at 12:11 pm |

    Sorry about the italic close fail.

    Also, as far as the thrift store thing goes, I have had some success by simply grabbing everything that I like the look of on the hangers that’s even remotely close to my size, but it’s still pretty frustrating when that’s 10-12 items and maybe one or two fit and look right on me (and that’s on a good day). And again, I end up with some relatively unisex guy’s stuff because it’s what fits.

  107. Suzanne Pearman
    Suzanne Pearman May 5, 2011 at 4:05 am |

    I thought this article was great and your points were well made, but after reading this I was quite surprised to see your photo. No matter how flattering of a photo it may be, your claims about “not being a tiny person” and descriptions of parts of your body as “big” & “thick” are frankly insulting to the women out there who actually are full-figured.
    As a feminist, I would expect you to strive to promote a more positive and realistic body image in your readers. Every girl or woman I have ever met with an eating disorder has been heavily influenced in childhood by watching her thin or normal-sized mother complain about her own weight. I implore you to please be more conscious in the future of whether you are sending these types of harmful messages to your readers.

    Thank you!

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