What’s Your REAL Size? The Truth About Vanity Sizing

There have been times when I have been in denial about my weight. Since adulthood, I have only fluctuated about 10 kilos, or 22 pounds, which is quite a significant amount, but not dangerous. At a higher weight I am very uncomfortable: I feel like I look puffy and bloated. I am always tugging at my clothes and I struggle to buy things when I go shopping.

Vanity sizing

There is a phenomenon where ladies clothes stores that gear their clothing towards an older demographic relax the sizing so that a size 10 becomes a size 6. This makes the wearer feel smaller and maybe thinner, and the theory goes, more attractive and more likely to purchase the item.

Fools, are we?

This is such a noted phenomenon that there is even a Wikipedia article on it, and it seems that it’s not just women’s clothes that are affected, but men’s clothes too. The entry mentions that size inconsistency has existed ‘since at least 1937. In Sears’s 1937 catalogue, a size 14 dress had a bust size of 32 inches (81 cm). In 1967, the same bust size was a size 8. In 2011, it was a size 0.’

I first noticed this in the TV show I Love Lucy. Lucy states her dress size as a 10 in the show, but these days and American ten is much larger. Things are further confused because US, UK and Australian sizes are all completely different. Have a look at this sizing chart from Asos. A side note here – all my friends are raving about this online retailer, so check them out.

size chart

I am fooling myself

An odd thing happens when I gain or lose weight. I can instantly assess an item of clothing on a rack and know whether it will fit me or not. Depending on my size I will either reach for a small, medium or large (or god forbid, extra large) and I am pretty good at guessing what size I need. However, my conscious brain pretends that I am always the same size, and if you ask me, I always say “size 10” despite my actual size.

Aussies want consistent sizes – but the government says no!

Well, I agree with them, honestly. Anyone who has ever constructed a garment knows that it’s almost impossible to make things consistent. Different fabrics, cuts, warps and weave can affect how a garment turns out.

According to news.com the Australian government couldn’t be bothered implementing national sizing guidelines. “Despite years of lobbying, the Federal Government says it will not act on recommendations to undertake a survey of Australian body measurements for the purpose of establishing standard national sizing. Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation Senator Kate Lundy last month said The National Measurement Institute had found scanning technologies suitable for body measurements but that there were no plans use them.”

Personally, I know my body fluctuates and changes each day, each week and each year. What can I do? I try not to be vain but I know that I am! Today I am wearing small pants and a large top, and yesterday I was wearing a large pair of pants and a small jacket. I know that my backside hasn’t changed that much!

Photo by Patternpalooza


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