Sizing - Confusion and Illusion


When I ask women their sizes, it is rare that someone says, "Oh I am definitely a size 6." Even with shoes, people are a bit confused these days. This is not a reflection on them, but rather on several other issues. One is an irritating concept called "Vanity Sizing". Someone somewhere decided that they could trick women into thinking they were a 2 or 4 instead of a 6 if they manipulated the size 2 to fit more like a 4 or 6?!  Their thinking was that this would make the women feel elated, buy more and become repeat customers. One woman recently told me she has a friend who is a solid size 4 but a 00 (yes a double zero) in one particular brand (J Crew, but I didn't say that!).  The size chart that we are all familiar with was actually created in 1958, and I think the last time it was updated was in the 1980s. The Washington Post found that when you compare sizing from 1958 to more recent data gathered in 2011, "Women have gotten progressively much larger over the years, but also, the sizing of their clothes is all over the place." Clearly, this leads to frustration and confusion!

The other reason it is difficult to know one's size these days is that there are more international brands at our disposal; no matter the price point. Zara is Spanish, for example, and at the other end of the price spectrum, there are designers like Dries Van Noten who is Belgian and uses French sizing. European sizing can really be complicated, especially in shoes. I wear an 8 1/2 but wear a 9 and even a 10 sometimes in French and Italian shoes. Even if the sizing is accurate, the size number will be different depending on the country! A French 42 is not the same as an Italian 42 and so on. Good grief!

What all this tells us is to IGNORE SIZING for the most part. Don't freak out if the dress you love, at the perfect price, is a size bigger than you normally wear. I usually get people to try on the size down and the size up from their size. If none of them fit exactly right, get the store's seamstress to see if all that is needed is a simple inexpensive tweak. If it's more complicated, then just walk away (no matter how bad it hurts!). Remember to ask the store how much alterations cost because sometimes it can raise the price substantially.

I keep an international sizing chart bookmarked on my smartphone, and I refer to it often. Who wants to go in search of a sales associate just to find your size? It really helps with online shopping as well (have you noticed the size guides the sites offer aren't very helpful? Not to mention, who wants to go find a tape measure and measure themselves head-to-toe just to order a top?). I am sharing this chart from Net-a-Porter with you; print it out, or screen shot and bookmark it so you can shop easier as well; consider it a little gift from me to you! Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

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Alison Bruhn