Labels that lie...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

By Jody Marich 
Vanity sizing, also known as size inflation: 
"clothing is sized smaller, in theory it will please the buyer. Vanity sizing may result in the removal of a garment of smallest measurements, if, for example, all garments were taken down a size, the smallest garment's previous measurements would no longer exist in that line of clothing. So as not to lose customers, companies often add smaller and smaller size labels, the smallest thus far being zero."
 - apparelsearch.com

America is obsessed with size. People are always worrying about being the "right" size in this world of  too thin, too big. I admit, I have fallen victim to it and it has even created eating issues for me in the past. 

Working in retail, I definitely have noticed vanity sizing. When I first started working at my clothing store, four years ago, I was a solid 4.  In the last 2 years, moving away to college and being on my own, I have lost weight, not too much but between 7-10 lbs. I was shocked when, last year, I could fit into a size 0 at my store. I thought there was no possible way. In the last year and half- ish, I have fit into anything from a 0 - 4. Now I comfortably fit into a 2, but sometimes I still have the trouble of going up or down a size, depending on the piece. That's why, at work, I always suggest my customers to try on our clothes. It doesn't matter if you know your size, vanity sizing has become an epidemic that mis-lables sizes and creates confusion. 

 It's all about fitting into the smallest size. Here are a few examples of different stores size charts. 

Abercrombie & Fitch

Bebe


American Eagle 










Women's | ELLE™, Simply Vera Vera Wang, Dana Buchman & LC Lauren Conrad


SizeXSSMLXL
24681012141618
Waist24 1/225 1/226 1/227 1/228 1/23031 1/23335
Hip353637383940 1/24243 1/245 1/2




Gap
Long & Lean and Curvy Jean Sizes
Regular
Petite
Tall
Waist
Hip
Thigh
Waist
Hip
Thigh
Waist
Hip
Thigh
00
24
23"
35¼"
20¾"
22½"
34¾"
20½"
23"
35¼"
20¾"
0
25
24"
36¼"
21¼"
23½"
35¾"
21"
24"
36¼"
21¼"
2
26
25"
37¼"
22"
24½"
36¾"
21¾"
25"
37¼"
22"
4
27
26"
38¼"
22½"
25½"
37¾"
22¼"
26"
38¼"
22½"
6
28
27"
39¼"
23"
26½"
38¾"
22¾"
27"
39¼"
23"
8
29
28"
40¼"
23¾"
27½"
39¾"
23½"
28"
40¼"
23¾"
10
30
29"
41¼"
24½"
28½"
40¾"
24¼"
29"
41¼"
24½"
12
31
30¼"
42½"
25¾"
29¾"
42"
25½"
30¼"
42½"
25¾"
14
32
31½"
43¾"
26¾"
31"
43¼"
26½"
31½"
43¾"
26¾"
16
33
33¼"
45½"
28"
32¾"
45"
27¾"
33¼"
45½"
28"
18
34
35¼"
47½"
29¼"
34¾"
47"
29"
35¼"
47½"
29¼"
20
35
37¼"
49½"
30½"
36¾"
49"
30¼"
37¼"
49½"
30½"


Last but not least is Old Navy, the store who is "borderline dishonest" as Esquire's size chart called it.
** Notice, even though Gap and Old Navy are part of the same corporation, the sizes are different in both waist and hips. The 00 at Gap has the same waist as 0 at Old Navy, and the hips are different.
 This chart is Old Navy's chart:
SIZEXS
0    1    2
S
4    6
M
8    10
L
12    14
XL
16    18
XXL
20
WAIST2324252627282930½32½34½3739½
HIPS3435363738394041½43½45½4850½
INSEAM PETITE29½
INSEAM SHORT30
INSEAM REGULAR32
INSEAM LONG34
INSEAM TALL36
PETITE SIZESXS
0    1    2
S
4    6
M
8    10
L
12    14
XL
16    18
XXL
20
WAIST22½23½24½25½26½27½28½30323436½39
HIPS33½34½35½36½37½38½39½41434547½50
INSEAM29½
TALL SIZESXS
0    1    2
S
4    6
M
8    10
L
12    14
XL
16    18
XXL
20
WAIST2324252627282930½32½34½3739½
HIPS3435363738394041½43½45½4850½
INSEAM36







Body image is so important to us. With everyone striving to look more like models and actresses, vanity sizing has created a sense of higher self-esteem because you can fit into that "forbidden" size. But is it really fair to fool consumers? 


As sizes "shrink", consumers grow, thinking that they are losing weight. With obesity becoming a bigger problem in America, vanity sizing only increases it -- dimming the lights on a widespread health issue. The idea that you can fit into a smaller size is nice, but when you look at the size in past decades, your self-esteem can take a real blow.  While the sneaky mislabeling was designed to fluff us up and encourage consumers to buy a new sexy, slim wardrobe, vanity sizing has created a lot of controversy with its customers. 

This is a chart from Cosmopolitan.com showing the shrinking sizes over the decades:



Cosmo also did a comparison of Gap khakis, one from 1996 and the other from 2006. 

In an article from the UK's Sunday Times, Marks & Spencer last changed clothing sizes in 2003 after conducting a survey. It examined 2,500 women using 3-D body scanners. But a size 16 at M&S has since increased in its guidelines from 97-80-104 to 101-84-109. The increased sizing is equivalent to an extra dress size.

"Gap, the American manufacturer which still uses inches, has seen some of its clothing measurements grow in the past two years. In 2008 a size 14 garment would be 37in at the bust, 29in at the waist and 39in at the hip. Today the size has grown to 37.5-29.5-40." - The Sunday Times. 

Vanity sizing affects both women and men's clothing. Here is a chart of men's labeled waistline vs. actual waistline from Esquire's Style blog:

From the looks of it, vanity sizing isn't going anywhere. In fact, it is only spreading to more companies. As America strives to be the "perfect" size, vanity sizing helps create a better self image BUT ultimately lies to the consumer. It all comes down to money: smaller sizes = larger profits and more returning customers. 




7 comments:

The Pursuers said...

wow, really eye-opening. i can't believe old navy has a 5 inch buffer! that's the size of a sub!

Jessi Lou, The Chic Addict said...

Haha, yikes! I never knew that!


http://thechicaddict.blogspot.com

silviasiantar said...

hey i never knew about this. thank you for sharing

i shared your thoughts on this on twitter!

xoxo
poisepolish.

Jody said...

Thank you for all the love. I think it is am important issue to know about. I am studying communications and doing a news package for my school... stay tuned! I love hearing from other fashionistas <3

Shopgirl said...

This is so true. My mum is a UK size 8 - or at least, she was! She finds it hards to find clothes to fit now as most stores only seem to go down to an 8 - which isn't an 8 anymore - or a big size 6. It's so wrong and disceptive. Good post.

Courtney said...

I guess if anything this proves that we should all forget about size and focus on being healthy.

Jody said...

Hi Dolls! thanks for reading! I hope it shined some light on this issue for you. Courtney, I totally agree.... stop focusing on size and focus on being healthy! Thanks again ladies <3

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