Thursday, July 29, 2010

How does your clothing size affect you?

The other day I was catching up on my blog reading and came across a post by Destrahan's Daughter.

She mentioned being able to fit into a dress size that she hasn't worn in quite a while and it made her happy. After struggling for most of my life to lose weight and again after I had my daughter, I can completely understand her excitement!

There was a time when I refused to buy a piece of clothing - or even try it on - if it meant that I would have to go up a size.  Size mattered to me.  A lot.

Now that I've gotten to a (mostly) comfortable weight, I've noticed how very much my clothing sizes fluctuate based upon brands and designers. I was recently asked a question on FormSpring about my height and size and answered honestly that I can't really give one size. It's always different.
I've gotten to the point now where if I have to wear a larger size, I'm (mostly) okay with it.  If I fit into a really small size (like a 4), I don't give it too much credence because I just don't trust designer sizing. It's highly likely that another label would call that same skirt a size 10.

Men have it so much easier with their clothes, because they typically go by inches. Why can't our clothing be sized universally? There needs to be some kind of regulation that designers need to follow when sizing their clothes.

Does it bother you when you find your "normal" size is too snug?  Do you feel a sense of elation when you "fit" into a smaller size than you'd normally choose? Why do we allow clothing designers to affect how we feel about ourselves?

Why can't we just be happy with how our clothes flatter our figures and not focus so much on what the size on the label says?


  1. This is a peeve of mine when watching others, particularly when shopping. (It's a whole other thing when your clothes are snug but you're just trying to hold out on buying new stuff - I know all about that.) But for Pete's sake, women, no one knows the number on the label - GO UP A SIZE. Just because you can barely pack it into a size eight doesn't mean you should! If you're not looking great in too-tight pants but the 10 or 12 is flattering, just please, for the love of all that is holy, go for what FITS. Fit is what's flattering to you, not the number on the inside waistband.

    At least you're not wearing it on an outer label, like with Levis - more evidence of how different it is for men; you can put W: 44 on the OUTSIDE of a man's pants and he doesn't give a rip.

  2. I have things sized from XXS to Medium. I even have a skirt made from a "size 14" pattern and it's nearly too snug... I don't care what the label says so long as it fits!

    Being a petite and an odd size, I gave up on caring about labels long ago. And there is plenty of evidence all across the blog-o-sphere that you can certainly look fabulous at ANY size.

  3. I don't have a lot of issues with the number on the tag. Like you, sometimes I'm a 10, sometimes I'm a 4, depending on brand. What I don't like is when, as a fairly small person, I try on a size Large (which I'm ok with), and it doesn't fit - which I would be ok with if I wasn't actually a small person. It makes me wonder what size of woman the store or brands demographic is when Large is too Small for a small's frustrating and doesn't make sense to me. (hopefully all that rambling made sense). :)

  4. I wear whatever fits I wouldn't care if it was a size 2 or 20, I just don't trust labels. I really wish there was universal sizing just because it would save me time! I hate having to grab a few sizes b/c I'm not sure when I go into the dressing room.

    So wear whatever size makes you look good, because a too tight or too baggy look is never flattering!

  5. Nah. Being my height/size, I have clothes size 12 to 20 in my closet that currently fit. With my body shape, it really depends on the cut so I usually take 2-3 sizes of something I like into the dressing room. It doesn't matter to me what size they are as long as they fit. And when I don't fit something anymore,(which is not often, since I do not fluctuate much)I just donate it. I don't have the space, or the patience to hang onto clothes that do not fit. I would be aggravated if I pulled something out of my closet that was too small or big. :-)

  6. My closet is full of a slew of different numbers. It gets to the point where they don't really mean anything whatsoever. I try to focus on getting clothing that fits well. If that means I have to wear an item with a number in it that seems big, so be it.

    That's not to say I don't struggle with body image, but I gave up worrying about numbers a long time ago. And I'm much healthier for it to!

    I think you look really great, by the way. :)

  7. Alyson: I don't know what to say other than AMEN!

    Megan: This is true, there is so much diversity in size among fashion bloggers and they all look fantastic in their own styles.

    Jill: I agree, it is really frustrating when the sizes are just so obviously wrong. I wonder the same thing about stores like that. And yes, your "rambling" made sense - that's not rambling to me, I'm much, much worse! :)

    Liz: You're right, wearing something too tight or too loose just because it's the "right size" isn't flattering. And I also wish I didn't have to bring in several different sizes of the same item into the dressing room. That's annoying!

    Bianca: I wish I didn't fluctuate much! I also wish I had the ability to get rid of clothes that don't fit anymore. I tend to hang on to them. I could learn a lot from you!

    Fia: Thank you. :) I still struggle a lot with body image too. I try to not let the clothing sizes affect me, but sometimes...sometimes... :)

  8. I don't worry too much about clothing sizes unless I'm showing a real upward trend. Just like on the scale, today's fluctuation doesn't matter, it's only a problem if it's a trend.

    I am currently right between what most commodity clothing lines (i.e. the clothes I can afford to buy, Gap, Anthropologie, etc) call a 10 and what they call a 12. I am right between M and L. So, I decide on the size I pick based on how the item feels and what I want it for. Wearing it as a top layer? I pick the bigger size. I want something to fit a little more body-consciously? I pick the smaller size. I also pay attention to if it feels good, can I sit down in it, can I bend, move freely.

  9. I am always amazed by the range of numbers in my closet - from a size 0 to a size 12 or 13. And they're all the same size, at least in a literal sense, because they all fit my body. It doesn't make any sense at all for there to be such a range in one woman's closet.

    I try not to feel too bad when I have to go up a size, because I'm the only one who knows what size I'm wearing, but sometimes it does wound my pride a bit. Probably because I worked so hard to lose a substantial amount of weight once upon a time.

    Anyway, I know that the numbers don't actually MEAN anything, since they're pretty arbitrary, but sometimes it does irk me just a bit. That's just one of those things I'm still working on.

  10. TOTALLY. I was just thinking about this subject. So many brands have done vanity sizing that it doesn't even thrill me when I fit into smaller sizes in their clothes. I just roll my eyes because it's them and not me. Like the others, I can wear anything from a 4 to a 10. I used to be a solid size 6, I can't fit into the size 6's I have from a few years ago after having two kids but I can buy brand new things from the same store in a 4. Doesn't make a lick of sense...

  11. Cynthia: That's such a great, logical way to look at it! When it comes to the number on the scale, I try to focus more on how my clothes fit and what my body fat percentage is rather than how much I weigh. I know muscle weighs more than fat so as long as I'm gaining muscle and losing fat, I don't care how much I "weigh." I love that you check your clothes for comfort and practicality when making your decisions. We need to go shopping together!

    Frances Joy: I know how you feel, it took me a while to lose the weight and get to a "comfortable weight" for myself. It's just so frustrating to not be able to count on clothing sizes when making a choice, especially if you're trying to shop online (and this is primarily why I don't.) In one shopping trip to Plato's Closet, I bought a size 4 skirt from The Limited and a size XL skirt from a different brand. Irk is a great word!

    Andrea: Oh, the vanity sizing. Just the name of it makes me wonder why they ever thought it was a good idea. I wish we could go by inches! Please!

  12. Apparently most everyone else who commented to this post is far more secure with themselves than I am. I admit, I am a sucker for vanity sizing. I go back to the labels where I can fit into a smaller size and I won't buy something if I have to go up a size (unless it's a bathing suit---I don't know why but I've convinced myself that bathing suits have a completely different system and I'm supposed to be two sizes larger on the bottom than on the top).

    I think Liz Claiborne was the first to experiment with vanity sizing because if you are a 4 in LC and a 6 everywhere else you're more likely to go back to her, right? And it worked out very well for that company. Gap and BR are notorious for their vanity sizing, and if I went by their sizing alone I'd think I was the incredible shrinking woman.

    But really, let's place blame where it belongs: the Sweet Valley High book series. When I was a tween (though that term hadn't been coined yet) I loved those books and wanted to be the "perfect size 6" that the Wakefield twins were. Well, hold on now, because in their latest incarnation they are now the "perfect size 4". (If you don't know what I'm talking about then I feel very old.)

    My point, finally, is that although I should be fine with the number on the label and the size 4 at the Gap may be the exact same measurements as the 10 at Calvin Klein, I just wan the 4. I am insecure. But, I'm trying to do better.

  13. Melanie: I think you're absolutely right about bathing suits. The sizing on those things is seriously messed up.

    Your comments about SVH made me LAUGH because I totally read all of those books (along with the Baby-Sitters Club) and wanted to be just like them too.

    As much as we'd all like to think we're above the number on the label, I think every one of us has a little bit of insecurity about going up a size, whether it's really bigger or not.

    We're human. That's just the way it is.


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