General chatter - Anyone else think "vanity" sizes are part of the problem? (semi-rant)




yoyonomoreinvegas
10-21-2008, 05:13 PM
I know we've discussed vanity sizing before but, I mean really! 20 years ago I was a very nice size 10. Those "vintage" jeans I've been hauling around all this time are my real goal - whatever the scale says when I get back into them is beside the point. Except now, in a lot of brands, I'm wearing a size 6 but I still can't get those old 10's over my butt, much less zipped.

During my most recent ascent up in fatness, I never weighed myself. Mostly because I was in total denial and partly because I was rationalizing that "a size 12 isn't THAT much bigger than a 10", then "well, a size 14 isn't THAT much bigger than a 12" and so on, all the way up to a size 18. Well, the flaw in that little theory is that today's size 12 is like twice as big as yesterday's 10. I'm guessing that by the time I get my waist down to the 26" it needs to be to get back into those old jeans, I'm going to be like a 4 in todays sizing (maybe even a 2 in some brands:?: ). I don't know about you all but, I find being 5'8" and a size 4 to be utterly ridiculous!

It sure seems to me that waistbands for a size 10 are growing by about 1/2" every 6 months. Do you think there are just hoards of other women out there who are failing to take notice of how overweight they are becoming because "I"m only one (or 2) size(s) bigger than I was when I got married"?


alinnell
10-21-2008, 05:29 PM
Yes, vanity sizing is a problem.

13 years ago I was an 8. And 25 pounds lighter than I am now. And now I'm a 6 (and 5'8" like you).

I find that there are some stores that don't give into vanity sizing. Sporting goods stores are still traditional. I wear a 10 or 12 there.

I'm sure that there are a lot of women who haven't got a clue that vanity sizing exists and are probably more than happy to buy into the illusion that they are only a size or two larger than when they were in high school. Or, imagine being a smaller size than they were in high school (when in fact they have gained 20 pounds)!

One more thing. Do your vintage jeans have spandex? I don't know of many jeans these days that don't contain spandex. It sure is more forgiving (and easier to get over the butt!). In fact, the pair I have on today (Not Your Daughter's Jeans) are 4% spandex rather than the 1% that most jeans are today.

Shannon in ATL
10-21-2008, 05:49 PM
I found a measurement chart a few weeks ago showing European sizing, US vanity sizing and US sizing pre-vanity sizing. (They also called it catalog sizing.)

You are correct according to the chart, a 26.5 inch waist is a 4-6 today in most things, 10 years ago was a 10-12. The article with the chart said that sizing has changed by 6 in most things, today's six is my high school 12, etc.

I didn't bookmark it and can't find it again...

I did a lot of shopping with my SIL this past week - she had gotten up to a size 18 about a year ago, compared to her size 6 in high school (about to be 30). This time she was buying sixes again and we discussed the vanity sizing concept. She first said "Yay, I'm my high school size again" but the more she looked the more she saw that wasn't there in those size sixes...


kaplods
10-21-2008, 06:02 PM
Universal sizing was first attempted in the late 40's, and a ten was arbitrarily assigned to the average size. It was never meant as a "forever" measurement, but rather it was expected that every few years, like a census, the averages would be recalculated and the new averages would replace the old. A size ten would always reflect the average, whether that was smaller or larger than years past.

When you see the sizes as deviations from the average, as they were meant to be, it's not vanity sizing - it's just a newly calculated average. Assigning meaning to the size, separate from it's practical usefulness in buying clothing, is giving it a definition it was never meant to have.

yoyonomoreinvegas
10-21-2008, 06:14 PM
Universal sizing was first attempted in the late 40's, and a ten was arbitrarily assigned to the average size. It was never meant as a "forever" measurement, but rather it was expected that every few years, like a census, the averages would be recalculated and the new averages would replace the old. A size ten would always reflect the average, whether that was smaller or larger than years past.

When you see the sizes as deviations from the average, as they were meant to be, it's not vanity sizing - it's just a newly calculated average. Assigning meaning to the size, separate from it's practical usefulness in buying clothing, is giving it a definition it was never meant to have.

I think that's kind of sad - the "average" woman is that much larger than she used to be? Maybe it's just my age, but I still have this idea in my mind that 36,26,36 would be ideal so, should be "average". (sigh)

murphmitch
10-21-2008, 06:15 PM
I wish womens clothing, well maybe pants were sized like mens where you have a waist and an inseam length. It would make it easier for me to shop for stuff, especially online when you can't try something on.

yoyonomoreinvegas
10-21-2008, 06:17 PM
I wish womens clothing, well maybe pants were sized like mens where you have a waist and an inseam length. It would make it easier for me to shop for stuff, especially online when you can't try something on.

Now THAT would make more sense - instead of this constant "what size am I this month" ordeal.

Shannon in ATL
10-21-2008, 06:17 PM
Hmm, never thought about it like that kaplods.

I just looked at a size chart on a retail website and it listed a size 10 as 36.5" bust, 28.5" waist, 39" hips. So, that would be the current average woman's dimensions today? Makes sense when you think about it. I'm listing women I know in my head right now and there is a decent mix of larger and smaller, that could be the midpoint for even my small sample group.

Edit: Yes, it would be easier if women's clothes went by measurements like men's... Sigh... :)

mandalinn82
10-21-2008, 06:18 PM
I think that "Ideal" and "Average" have been diverging, too - it isn't like the same thing that was considered "ideal" 50 years ago is ideal today.

Today's ideal is a size 00-2, tall, and near the bottom of the healthy BMI range. The ideal also tends to be less "hourglass" than the figure described previously as "ideal" measurements.

As such, the old "Ideal" and "Average" were close together...but now? Most women will physically never get to "Ideal", even if they get to a healthy, sustainable weight.

Schumeany
10-21-2008, 06:29 PM
Ah, but what Mand is talking about is the ideal in other women's eyes (Or our own...). NOT necessarily the ideal in a partner's eyes (Be the partner male or female...). If you ask most men, the ideal is NOT a 00-2. Far from it. They may like fit, healthy women, but the average man likes a lot more curves than the 00's have to offer. It is just US, that crave some unattainable ideal for ourselves. I think I'm past that now. In fact, I used to be a size two, but that is NOT what I'm aiming for now -- I think my little post-baby belly and flared hips are pretty sexy. I look like a woman. So I'll keep my vanity Size 8 me, or perhaps Size 6 if I drop those last four or so pounds, and forget about the Size 2 me -- she was so skinny that she often had skin trouble from too much lean muscle mass versus body fat (teenage boy acne syndrome). I'm happy to be able to climb hills without huffing and the great muscle definition in my upper arms.

mandalinn82
10-21-2008, 06:38 PM
"Ideal" being roughly defined as "the body type that is presented in media sources and in fashion as the standard for desirability". I do know quite a few men (younger ones, mostly) who call girls above a size 2 "fat" and only want skinny girls...which makes sense from a SOCIAL standpoint (if I get the "stereotypically hot" chick, it proves I'm super-great and will increase my social standing) but not an EVOLUTIONARY standpoint (The less-hourglass-shaped women who are idealized in the media don't have the typical visual indicators of fertility...they tend to be, in particular, thinner-hipped than more fertile women).

kukristen
10-21-2008, 07:19 PM
Gap is the WORST with vanity sizing... ooorrr the best because I fit into their smaller sizes...

I have a pair of size 14 jeans from the gap I bought a few years ago.. they fit... albeit a TAD snug... but definitely wearable...

BUT... the other day, I fit into size TEN jeans at the gap.. and they fit about the same as the 14s from a few years ago... TOTAL vanity sizing happening there...

yoyonomoreinvegas
10-21-2008, 07:29 PM
"Ideal" being roughly defined as "the body type that is presented in media sources and in fashion as the standard for desirability". I do know quite a few men (younger ones, mostly) who call girls above a size 2 "fat" and only want skinny girls...which makes sense from a SOCIAL standpoint (if I get the "stereotypically hot" chick, it proves I'm super-great and will increase my social standing) but not an EVOLUTIONARY standpoint (The less-hourglass-shaped women who are idealized in the media don't have the typical visual indicators of fertility...they tend to be, in particular, thinner-hipped than more fertile women).

Yes, but what they want to hang out with as singles and what they choose to marry are often different. I do think they tend to pick the "curvier" women with all those outward "fertility" indicators to "hook up" with on a more permanent basis. I kind of think we aren't quite far enough up the evolutionary ladder just yet to be able to disregard those basic "preserve the species and reproduce" instincts.

yoyonomoreinvegas
10-21-2008, 07:33 PM
I think that "Ideal" and "Average" have been diverging, too - it isn't like the same thing that was considered "ideal" 50 years ago is ideal today.
Today's ideal is a size 00-2, tall, and near the bottom of the healthy BMI range. The ideal also tends to be less "hourglass" than the figure described previously as "ideal" measurements.

As such, the old "Ideal" and "Average" were close together...but now? Most women will physically never get to "Ideal", even if they get to a healthy, sustainable weight.

That is very, very true - If you look at some of the "sex kitten" shots of someone like Jayne Mansfield, they are very curvy with very little muscle tone - (forgive me Jayne) almost flabby by today's standards.

PhotoChick
10-21-2008, 09:05 PM
Commenting responding to several people - sorry, I haven't kept track of who! :)

You are correct according to the chart, a 26.5 inch waist is a 4-6 today in most things, 10 years ago was a 10-12.Puts a whole different spin on the information that Marilyn Monroe wore a 12/14 doesn't it? It's not that what is desirable has changed *that* much; it's that the sizes have changed. :)

I used to work for a clothing manufacturer in the Women's Wear development department and Kaplods is totally right in her description of how sizing works. When I worked where I worked, the company was in the middle of a huge sizing reconfiguration. One of the things we did was bring in over 400 women to be measured (a series of over 150 measurements per woman) to create an "average". The average size of all of the women across all size ranges had gone up in the 15 years since the project previously.

I think that's kind of sad - the "average" woman is that much larger than she used to be? Now, see, I don't think it's "sad". I think it's a good thing. Part of the reason that we're larger (and it's not just women, but men, too) is because of better nutrition. Also because women are not expected to wear foundation garments (girdles, bras, etc.) that distort their true shape. Now obviously, we in America (and some other countries) are larger due to obesity rates, but taking obesity out of the equation, people as species are larger due to better nutrition and so forth. Anyone who has ever looked at historical costumes in a museum or toured historical homes can see that beds, chairs, clothing, etc., all were MUCH smaller 50 or 100 years ago.

Here's just one source for you:
http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/February05/Features/ThePriceIsRight.htm
In the U.S., statistics for students ages 18-20 entering New England colleges show a remarkable gain in body size from one century to the next. The average height of men entering Amherst College increased from 66.8 inches in 1861 to 70.5 inches in 1957. (The share of freshmen 6 feet or taller increased from 4 percent to 33 percent.) For women entering Vassar College, average height increased from 63.5 inches in 1884 to 65.1 inches in 1957. For the Amherst men, gains in weight outpaced gains in height during 1910-57.


It wasn't until later in the 20th century and the introduction of processed foods (as well as the reduction of physical jobs) that height increases began to be eclipsed by weight increases.

Also keep in mind that "ideal" and "average" are two different things. Again, drawing on my experience working in structural design (not fashion design), we designed clothes across a range of sizes based on the AVERAGE (as measured by real women from the community) NOT based on the fashion model ideal. Clothes used for fashion shows and shoots were custom tailored and often custom sewn in house specifically for the models chosen - but the clothing in the LINE that was sold in stores was manufactured by patterns based on the average.

Just some info from the inside (albeit 15 years ago inside). :)

.

Hat Trick
10-22-2008, 12:44 AM
I don't care what the size tag says, as long as it's smaller today than it was a few months ago! What's in a number anyway? It's how you look and feel in what you wear that counts for me. The cut and fit of the clothing matters much, much more than the size. Why, size is a four letter word if you ask me! :D

Magrat
10-22-2008, 06:40 AM
Call it what you will, vanity sizing or recalculated averages, the fact remains that each clothing size is larger today than the corrosponding size of years past. For me personally this means that in the stores I can afford to shop in (Wal-mart, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx) I'm often forced into the preteen department because the clothes in the misses or juniors departments are just plain too big. I was in TJ's the other day checking the racks to see if there was anything in the ladies/juniors dress departments that might fit me. Nope. The smallest size they had was a size 2 that would have hung on me like a potato sack. Good thing I don't wear dresses or dressy clothes very often but when I do need to dress up finding something that fits and doesn't make me look like I'm in the seventh grade is a nightmare. Last year, for example, it took me three months to find a dress for a wedding reception. I finally found an acceptably adult looking girls' size fourteen dress at Marshalls.

What really gets me is that while I'm small I'm far from skinny. I'm five one, 115 pounds. When I was 124 pounds in high school I was a size eleven junior petite. My goal back then was a size seven. When I started losing my thirty pounds I was wearing a ten year old pair of size fourteen jeans (probably a ten in todays sizing). I wanted to get to a size six or maybe a four. I certainly did not intend to shrink myself into the kids department.

But as things stand now it looks like I'm stuck there unless the clothing size number downward trend suddenly reverses itself since I have no intention of putting any weight back on.

aphil
10-22-2008, 09:26 AM
I think that's kind of sad - the "average" woman is that much larger than she used to be? Maybe it's just my age, but I still have this idea in my mind that 36,26,36 would be ideal so, should be "average". (sigh)

When 36-26-36 was considered ideal, this was also the time when bras were designed to make everyone's boobs look "pointy". :lol: Take a look at Ginger from Gilligan's Island, June Cleaver, or watch some old movies. They all wore the "pointy boob" bras, and girdles on their bottom halves. The ideal was hourglass, but with no muscle tone at all. We were also supposed to wear HIGH HEELS while we cooked dinner in a fancy apron and lovely dress, with our hair done up like Lucille Ball. :^:

In fact, most women do NOT have their fullest bust at the same exact measurement as their hips. Most women are hourglass or pear shaped, and even with those shapes, the bust is usually a little smaller than the fullest point of the hips. 36-26-36 equates to "skinny lady with big breasts", essentially. :D The only exception to this, is the apple shape, where the upper body tends to be larger, and the lower body (hips) tend to be small. This is a more masculine body shape in the lower body-and many apples tend to find that men's jeans fit them better because of their lack of a defined waist and larger hips.


I just looked at a size chart on a retail website and it listed a size 10 as 36.5" bust, 28.5" waist, 39" hips.

This is a much more likely body dimension for a woman, even one with an ample bosom for her size.


Yes, but what they want to hang out with as singles and what they choose to marry are often different. I do think they tend to pick the "curvier" women with all those outward "fertility" indicators to "hook up" with on a more permanent basis. I kind of think we aren't quite far enough up the evolutionary ladder just yet to be able to disregard those basic "preserve the species and reproduce" instincts.

This is SOOO true. My younger brother got married on Saturday. For the past 14 years, he has dated every version of Barbie. Tall, thin, blonde, tan...usually in the size 0-6 range. The young lady who walked down the aisle was of average height, a brunette, pretty (and sweet!) but not supermodel, and she is probably a size 12 or 14, with an ample bosom and hips.

zeffryn
10-22-2008, 10:31 AM
We were also supposed to wear HIGH HEELS while we cooked dinner in a fancy apron and lovely dress, with our hair done up like Lucille Ball. :^:
wait....you don't do this? I like to skip the dress part when DS isn't around ;)






This is SOOO true. My younger brother got married on Saturday. For the past 14 years, he has dated every version of Barbie. Tall, thin, blonde, tan...usually in the size 0-6 range. The young lady who walked down the aisle was of average height, a brunette, pretty (and sweet!) but not supermodel, and she is probably a size 12 or 14, with an ample bosom and hips.

Same with my DH....it did absolutely nothing for my self esteem for quite some time, but I got over it.

kathleenf
10-22-2008, 04:18 PM
Well.
I'm just shocked. Momentarily without words. No fear tho, I'll warm up. Without words because -impo- this is the first time I've ever seen accurate information about the nature of sizing to be posted in a public forum. Ever.

I have a google alert set for "vanity sizing" so this thread popped up. I registered here for the singular purpose of commenting. Hope that is okay. If it matters, I'm kindred. I lost 150 lbs over 20 years ago and have kept it off.

Anyway, this is precisely, exactly on target:
Universal sizing was first attempted in the late 40's, and a ten was arbitrarily assigned to the average size. It was never meant as a "forever" measurement, but rather it was expected that every few years, like a census, the averages would be recalculated and the new averages would replace the old. A size ten would always reflect the average, whether that was smaller or larger than years past.

When you see the sizes as deviations from the average, as they were meant to be, it's not vanity sizing - it's just a newly calculated average. Assigning meaning to the size, separate from it's practical usefulness in buying clothing, is giving it a definition it was never meant to have.
The reason this is true is because the median of a given size spread a manufacturer uses, say 6-16 or even XS-XL, is the size used as the reference point for needed fabric use calculations. When fabric is laid out to cut, a paper outlining all the pieces for all the sizes is lain on top. This is called a "marker". A marker is most efficient if it is balanced. A balanced marker reflects proportional size ratios. Let's say you're going to make small, medium and large. We sell 2 mediums for every small or large. Therefore, our marker will have 2 mediums, 1 small and 1 large. The mediums nest evenly together. The larges and smalls are mixed together, smalls giving room the larges need so it all works out.

Now. If a company sees a trend that they're selling as many larges as they are mediums, or even more larges than mediums, it means their sizing needs to evolve in the interests of efficient fabric costing (it has NOTHING to do with vanity, it's money). So, the large becomes a medium, the medium becomes a small and they have to create a new large (previously XL) etc. There's no conspiracy. Put it this way. If manufacturers have failed to address the concerns of consumers in meaningful ways, why would they suddenly decide to cater to your emotional state? The only party in the whole equation doing that is their marketing arm and believe me, we don't let those people anywhere near product development assuming they even had the interest or aptitude for it.

I think that consumers have latched onto vanity sizing as an outlet to express their justifiable resentment against the industry. There's no good mechanism to connect consumers and producers -at least the ones doing the work and that's assuming management would even allow us to fix whatever consumers were angry about. In spite of controlling the means of the product, we don't have the power to change the parameters of design. Like most of you in your jobs, we have to do what the boss tells us.

As is this:
I used to work for a clothing manufacturer in the Women's Wear development department and Kaplods is totally right in her description of how sizing works. When I worked where I worked, the company was in the middle of a huge sizing reconfiguration. One of the things we did was bring in over 400 women to be measured (a series of over 150 measurements per woman) to create an "average". The average size of all of the women across all size ranges had gone up in the 15 years since the project previously.

This bears reiteration:
Anyone who has ever looked at historical costumes in a museum or toured historical homes can see that beds, chairs, clothing, etc., all were MUCH smaller 50 or 100 years ago.
Sizing EVOLVES, just like people do. Altho based on numerical attributes *as its form of expression*, sizing is a social construct, not a quantitative mathematical one. If sizing did not evolve, we'd be using centuries old infrastructure measures (doorways, countertops etc) that suited the body measures of people long dead.

Furthermore (returning to the social construct thing), sizing numbers USED to mean something. The meaning of sizing was wrested from pattern makers probably starting in WW2 but firmly out of grasp by the late 1960's. The reason is, we (I'm a pattern maker) used to draft according to archaic formulas known as "scale". It is complex to describe the derivation of formulas but suffice to say that a chart of aliquot parts was printed on the backs of our L-squares, a tool we cannot draft without. A cheat sheet as it were. For example, a woman 5'4", bust 32 was a size 14. This was the baseline of the scale; the "zero" point. For every inch increase or decrease in hgt, she went up or down a size (12/16 etc; multiples of two based on front back body divisions) and therefore we used the point marked "14" (or whatever) of the 2nds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths chart, etc of the L-square to make our benchmarks. Similarly, for every inch in bust, she was put up or down a size. Now, no one suggests that "scale" formulas were perfect but *as long as the population remained relatively hgt/wgt proportionate*, scale worked pretty well. The problem is, a woman could only rarely make sense of her size number. One could not half her bust measure to get her size. As women increasingly left the home (the WW2 thing) and ceased drafting and making their own clothes, knowledge of how to calculate their size was lost. Therefore, retail created a sizing strategy of their own devices. From there it just became this huge mess.

There's another reason WW2 was pivotal but I won't bore you with the gore.

If anyone is interested, I've written a great deal about "vanity sizing" on my website. Of course, as a new user, I have no sig nor can I leave links. That's not a complaint. To find the start of the now 12 part series, you can google "the myth of vanity sizing" and I pop up first.

Btw, nice to meetcha!

peachcake
10-22-2008, 05:12 PM
But if the women men choose to "hang out with and date" are tiny, but they marry the "larger" ones... where's the in between? I know a guy who says that no matter what height a woman is if she is over 120 she is FAT. Of course, he's probably dated girls who are 140 and say they're 120. I'm single and I get looked at but guys never approach me, or if they do they just ask to see my boobs (happened the other night at a bar). Ugh.

So they date the small girls but marry the average sized ones... so I guess you have to be super thin to attract him in the first place and then you can gain weight? This is all pretty rhetorical, but still...

Hat Trick
10-22-2008, 06:13 PM
. . . or if they do they just ask to see my boobs

So, did you hold a mirror up to his face - so he could see the boob - then turn around and leave? :lol:

aphil
10-23-2008, 09:50 AM
But if the women men choose to "hang out with and date" are tiny, but they marry the "larger" ones... where's the in between? I know a guy who says that no matter what height a woman is if she is over 120 she is FAT. Of course, he's probably dated girls who are 140 and say they're 120. I'm single and I get looked at but guys never approach me, or if they do they just ask to see my boobs (happened the other night at a bar). Ugh.

So they date the small girls but marry the average sized ones... so I guess you have to be super thin to attract him in the first place and then you can gain weight? This is all pretty rhetorical, but still...


What I found with my younger brother, was that when he was in his DATING stage, when he didn't WANT to commit or be tied down...he dated the Barbie type. However, when he started looking for a serious relationship, he changed the type of women that he went for. The looks/body came secondary...since he was wanting to settle down, he started looking for someone who would play golf with him, someone who made him laugh, and someone who liked to cook, wanted kids, etc. His new wife IS very pretty...but she just isn't the type that he would have "partied with" when he was 22 years old.

PhotoChick
10-23-2008, 02:05 PM
But if the women men choose to "hang out with and date" are tiny, but they marry the "larger" ones... where's the in between? I know a guy who says that no matter what height a woman is if she is over 120 she is FAT. Of course, he's probably dated girls who are 140 and say they're 120.
My guy and I joke about his "type" all the time - tall, long legs, small boobs (he likes legs and butt), etc. The actresses he likes all fit this description. But who is he WITH? Me. 5'4" and 165 lbs. Big boobs. Short legs.

Not to mention that when he met me and our relationship started, I was at my highest weight ever (over 240)

What men "like" when it comes to simply visual stimulation is a whole different ball game from what they choose in person - when considering the whole package, which includes personality, humor, intelligence, etc.

And for reference, he had to give a physical description of me the other day and he told someone he thought I weighed "about 120". :D

I'm do believe that anyone who thinks they're not meeting men because they are fat is (to some degree) creating that situation themselves.

.

3Beans
10-23-2008, 03:02 PM
Does anyone watch Mad Men? This thread brings to mind the rivalry between the voluptuous Joan, who has used her wits and her curves to gain power, and the thinner, younger, perhaps more bohemian new secretary. It's like Marilyn Monroe v. Twiggy.

The point is, the show highlights the point in time at which tastes did indeed change, as part of a broad cultural shift. Or maybe this is all irrelevant and I just like Mad Men a whole lot. (I'm not all caught up, btw, so I beg of you - NO SPOILERS!)

As for vanity sizing, this has been a very informative thread and I see the logic in that now.

yoyoma
10-23-2008, 03:14 PM
Great thread! Thanks for starting it yoyo, and to all who have chipped in their experiences.

Special thanks and:welcome2: to kathleen! Please stick around and share some tips on your incredible maintenance success!!!

Oh, and regarding the original question -- despite the fact that size inflation now makes sense to me, I do think it may have contributed to my previous weight gain. It's a lot easier to live in the state of denial if you can keep buying pants in the same size (Yesterday I wore a very old pair of size 12 jeans I took out of storage; today I wore a new pair of size 6 pants!).

PhotoChick
10-23-2008, 03:26 PM
I'm a pattern maker
Hey Kathleen. I worked in WW Garment Development for a northwest company. My whole role was supporting the PMs and writing the specs for all the garments going into production. It was FASCINATING work. :)

Welcome to 3FC. Hope you'll stick around.

.

aphil
10-23-2008, 03:32 PM
Hey Kathleen. I worked in WW Garment Development for a northwest company. My whole role was supporting the PMs and writing the specs for all the garments going into production. It was FASCINATING work. :)

Welcome to 3FC. Hope you'll stick around.

.

Hey Kathleen-
I'd like to second the welcome. I do seamstressing and custom costume work-and there definitely IS a system when it comes to pattern making and altering, proportions of the body, and other things. I have explained to people MANY times that it really DOES take more fabric/notions/trims to make plus sized clothing than it does something in a size small or medium...so the industry isn't charging "$1-$2 more for plus sizes" just to be discrimatory to fat people. ;) :lol:

Anyhow...welcome!

nelie
10-23-2008, 03:47 PM
kathleen - That is interesting about the vanity sizing. The thing is though there is the aspect on what sells more as well from manufacturer to manufacturer. If I had the choice of 2 pairs of pants and one is a 14 and the other is an 18, 9 out of 10 times, I'd choose the 14. You hear women say this all the time. I think that does play a part in vanity sizing because certain manufacturers definitely have a more generous fit over others.

Another amusing thing is even in sports wear, you can see sizing is different. I have a pair of XL running pants that are a bit snug. I recently bought a pair of M running shorts from another manufacturer. To be fair, the running shorts are supposed to be tight and fitted which they are but why the discrepancy? shouldn't I at least be able to get a L or XL without feeling they are loose?

yoyonomoreinvegas
10-23-2008, 06:39 PM
The reason this is true is because the median of a given size spread a manufacturer uses, say 6-16 or even XS-XL, is the size used as the reference point for needed fabric use calculations. When fabric is laid out to cut, a paper outlining all the pieces for all the sizes is lain on top. This is called a "marker". A marker is most efficient if it is balanced. A balanced marker reflects proportional size ratios. Let's say you're going to make small, medium and large. We sell 2 mediums for every small or large. Therefore, our marker will have 2 mediums, 1 small and 1 large. The mediums nest evenly together. The larges and smalls are mixed together, smalls giving room the larges need so it all works out.

Now. If a company sees a trend that they're selling as many larges as they are mediums, or even more larges than mediums, it means their sizing needs to evolve in the interests of efficient fabric costing (it has NOTHING to do with vanity, it's money). So, the large becomes a medium, the medium becomes a small and they have to create a new large (previously XL) etc. There's no conspiracy. Put it this way. If manufacturers have failed to address the concerns of consumers in meaningful ways, why would they suddenly decide to cater to your emotional state? The only party in the whole equation doing that is their marketing arm and believe me, we don't let those people anywhere near product development assuming they even had the interest or aptitude for it.


Btw, nice to meetcha!

Thank you for a very informative post Kathleen! I actually work for the distribution center of a sportswear company and no one in the design department could explain to me why the size grade changes every season (makes keeping track of inventory a real pain when the same style & color can't be mixed together in an order because they are the same size but they aren't). Perhaps you can answer the other question then - why hasn't the garment industry considered a switch to "inches" sizing for women's clothing the way men's are sized?

Nice to meet you too. Hope you'll come back....

JulieJ08
10-23-2008, 08:52 PM
Perhaps you can answer the other question then - why hasn't the garment industry considered a switch to "inches" sizing for women's clothing the way men's are sized?

I think a lot of women would not want their clothing labelled with their measurements. But I think it might be a good thing. I think even more important is the trend now in even moderately priced clothing to offer different "fits" and not just sizes.

zenor77
10-23-2008, 09:25 PM
Quite honestly, I don't care about the number so much as the fit (I have several sizes in my closet.) I like that pants come in a multitude of rises/styles now, but I really wish clothing manufacturers would make women's pants with different inseam lengths like men's pants and not just in short/regular/long.

I also wish button up shirts were sizes by bra size and waist measurement. I have the hardest time finding button up shirts.

kaplods
10-23-2008, 10:25 PM
I had heard about women who refused to wear anything larger than a certain size, but I hadn't (knowingly) met one, until I went shopping with my MIL for a dress for her wedding a couple months ago. She found a dress she absolutely LOVED, but the size 10 wasn't flattering as it was too tight across the abdomen. I told her I'd go look for a 12, and she told me she "would absolutely not wear a size 12." I have to admit I wasn't very sympathetic, as I told her "well, just cut the darned tag out, then." But nope, she wouldn't consider wearing a 12.

That I think is the part of the problem, women identifying with a size. "I am a size 10," MIL kept saying. No, she isn't a number, she's a woman, and different manufacturer's, with or without vanity sizing, are going to make clothes with different fits. It just seemed absolutely ridiculous to me that she passed up the dress she liked the most, because she was stressing over a number. Heck for clothing that was reasonably priced with a flattering fit, I wouldn't care if the tag said "you're a whale."

yoyonomoreinvegas
10-23-2008, 11:15 PM
I had heard about women who refused to wear anything larger than a certain size, but I hadn't (knowingly) met one, until I went shopping with my MIL for a dress for her wedding a couple months ago. She found a dress she absolutely LOVED, but the size 10 wasn't flattering as it was too tight across the abdomen. I told her I'd go look for a 12, and she told me she "would absolutely not wear a size 12." I have to admit I wasn't very sympathetic, as I told her "well, just cut the darned tag out, then." But nope, she wouldn't consider wearing a 12.
That I think is the part of the problem, women identifying with a size. "I am a size 10," MIL kept saying. No, she isn't a number, she's a woman, and different manufacturer's, with or without vanity sizing, are going to make clothes with different fits. It just seemed absolutely ridiculous to me that she passed up the dress she liked the most, because she was stressing over a number. Heck for clothing that was reasonably priced with a flattering fit, I wouldn't care if the tag said "you're a whale."

Quite honestly, this is the exact "excuse" my design department used to give me - our sizes change because the owner of the company is a size 10 no matter what - 6 weeks in Mexico with the associated drinking and dining - stil a size 10. They used to tell me that she said she had a closet full of size 10's from other mfgs that fit fine so we had to adjust our size scale accordingly. After Kathleen's informative post it makes more sense - but I still see it as part of the problem. I think more women would have that all important "aha" moment a lot sooner if they HAD to buy their jeans the same way men do.

PhotoChick
10-24-2008, 01:20 AM
I think more women would have that all important "aha" moment a lot sooner if they HAD to buy their jeans the same way men do.The problem is one of body shape.

Most men have the same (or a very close to the same) waist/hip ratio. You can size men's pants by a waist size because there's not the variation between waist and hip from man to man that there is from woman to woman.

You and I could both have 26 inch waists, but depending on our builds, you could have an athletic slim build and 33 inch hips and I could have a voluptuous curvy build with 36 inch hips - so buying pants based on waist size would be equally frustrating as buying by some random size number.

For that reason, women's pants sizes aren't based on waist size, but on HIP size, and also on ratio from waist to hip. Even so, if pants were sold by an inch measurement, whether waist or hip, there would still be the issue of Brand A at 36" doesn't fit me and Brand B at 36" does ... because again, women all have different proportions in greater extremes than men do.

No matter how you size women's clothing, there's still going to be brand/style issues ... because of that whole hip/waist/boobs thing we've got going that men don't. :)

.