Last weekend I went shopping with my 14 year old daughter. We were at the outlet mall and went into Banana Republic, J. Crew, Off Fifth (Sax’s outlet retailer), and the Gap. It was way more work than it needed to be. At each store both of us had to try on items we liked in several different sizes. At Banana Republic, I was a size eight. At the Gap, I was a six. At J. Crew it depended on the item–in pants I was an eight, in shirts I was a twelve. The worst was Off Fifth, a store that carries many different designers. I was a fourteen in one dress and a six in another. I put on jeans that varied from a 29 to a 32.
In fact, the only sizing that was consistent was in shoes. I tried on shoes at several different places–Reebok, Nike, Off Fifth and Nine West and, in every store, I was an eight. The entire experience made me crazy. Why oh why can’t the fashion industry come up with somewhat consistent sizes? I understand that, with all the variation in women’s bodies, that exact sizing is not, on a large scale, possible. But surely the industry could have a set of measurements that all retailers use. (Don’t even get me started on Chico’s at which I, who have size 14 jeans from the 1990’s that still fit, am a zero. If that’s not pandering, I don’t know what is!)
Surely this isn’t an impossible dream. We’ve managed to make shoe and bra sizes more or less standard. What’s the deal with clothes? My husband doesn’t have this problem. He buys a shirt (16/36) and it always fits! The same is true for him with pants. The waist and length size is true and doesn’t vary by maker. Is it all a marketing ploy? Are we women more likely to buy the smaller size independent of any actual basis for such size? Apparently the answer to that question is yes. We like what’s called vanity sizing–sizing that designed to make women feel thinner and thus, in the fashion industry’s world, better about themselves.
The whole thing seems misguided to me. Most of us are watching are wallets and our watches as we shop. I would feel better about shopping (and in particular on-line shopping) if I had the sense that when I choose a size ten at any given store that article of clothing would be sized in the same way as the same article in the store next door. I don’t want to have to try on clothes in each place I go just to figure out what the appropriate size is. I value my time over my ego in this case. I’d rather be the same size in all stores than be pandered to and confused about what size I should take back to the dressing room.
What’s your experience here? Is this just an American phenomenon? Are you more likely to buy a pair of jeans–or any other article of clothing–if the size is small? What stores have the most consistent sizing?
- Dabney AAR