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Clothing Size Maketh The Woman

What’s more important to you - buying clothes that fit you well or the label size of those clothes?

You may be surprised to find that in a recent survey by a clothing alteration firm that Australasian customers, and in particular women, would opt not to purchase clothes that fit them well, if the label says it is in a larger size than their usual size. When you consider that most clothes don’t have the size label on the outside, why are we so worried about this invisible measure?

The Body Image Workbook second edition, Thomas Cash
The answer lies in a common body image issue. For many of us our self-esteem is dependent on how our body looks, and how we perceive that our body looks to others. Buying a larger size can lead people to feel dissatisfied with their body, which in turn can lead to emotional eating, yoyo dieting and despondency.

I’m sure a lot of readers can relate to the thrill of finding that they can fit into a smaller size of jeans, and the disappointment when their usual size doesn’t fit. Some people use it as a form of motivation – they intentionally purchase clothing that is too small for them in the hope that this will inspire them to lose weight, but others do it because they can’t bear the thought of purchasing a larger label size.

Canny manufacturers recognising the psychology of clothing sizes often opt for roomy clothes and increasing the measurements to allow people the comfort of purchasing clothes in a smaller label size. This is on top of adjustments that have been made to accommodate the growing girth of the population.

Experts estimate that today’s size clothing in New Zealand is approximately 5cm (2 inches) larger than the same label size 20 years ago.
Two-thirds of customers surveyed by clothing alterations chain LookSmart said they owned clothing in different sizes, and half said sizing variations made them feel frustrated, depressed - or fat.

Mr Hatoum said inconsistent sizing was demoralising to shoppers, many of whom were unwilling to change sizes for emotional reasons.

Hatoum sums it up neatly when he says,
"A size tag is more than a number - it relates to how people see themselves."

So what is the solution? Some in the industry want to see standardised sizing across all apparel manufacturers, but I think the real answer lies in not becoming overly attached to the clothing size label. Scales and clothing sizes are useful measures to help you track your progress toward your goals, but when you get on the rollercoaster of feeling good or bad about yourself depending on the result of those measures, they become self-esteem killers.

If you can learn to be confident and happy with your body and opt to purchase clothes that are comfortable and fit well it will be one less trigger to emotional eating, which can stop people from losing weight and keeping it off.

Talia Mana


  1. Great post -- all the women in my family, from my mother and grandmothers back through the ancestral line, are and were seamstresses. It used to be that clothing sizes were based on actual measurements, which seems now to be the case only for sewing patterns. I'm glad to have been raised in such a family, where the *fit* mattered.

    Nowadays I have jeans and pants that range from size 6 to 14, when my waist and hip measurements haven't budged in fifteen years. Last month I went to buy a pair of shorts in my favorite store, and everything was too big... lo and behold, a size 4 fit. Size FOUR! I'm supposed to be a size 12 according to my actual measurements and classic sizing!

  2. That's amazing Fraise! I have the same problem with clothing but not as big a variation. I notice Asian clothing is still quite small, so I need bigger sizes for the Asian clothing

  3. This post is so true! If the size of jeans I am used to barely fits when I am shopping, I still get them. I just have to remember to suck in my stomach every time I wear them.

  4. You wrote:
    Experts estimate that today’s size clothing in New Zealand is approximately 5cm (2 inches) larger than the same label size 20 years ago.

    The reason is, the average consumer is also 5cm larger. A size 10 was never intended to be static. Post WW2, a size 10 became the arbitrary number designating the average size. It was never intended to be static but fluid -and all the other sizes line up behind or in front of it. Like a census, the average MEDIAN size would change every few years, recalculated to reflect evolving changes in body sizes. In other words, a size 10 was/is intended to reflect the average customer of a **designer's given demography**. The latter is pivotal and explains why a 10 from line to line is different. Thinner people tend to have more disposable income so expensive designer clothes are actually SMALLER than the commensurate sizes of budget priced apparel. Iow, exactly the opposite of what everybody thinks.

    So what is the solution? Some in the industry want to see standardised sizing across all apparel manufacturers,

    There's two basic solutions, neither of which should be standardized sizing.
    1. Labels could include the inch or cm dimensions of the body the garment was designed to fit. Unfortunately, the "size" will still be needed by retailers to sort garments in appropriate categories.
    2. The average consumer could lose 20 lbs apiece. That way, the average size "10" would scale back down to where it was 20 years ago. Sizing has become inflated because consumer girth has. If industry is guilty of anything, it's following the market.

    Standardized sizing would fit fewer people and increase consumer outrage. Why do people assume that the adopted standards would fit their unique body? What if the standard adopted was hourglass dimensions? That'd leave apple shapes with no clothing options and vice versa. As bad as it is, it is better to not have standards so a given designer can fit the customers she considers to be her core customer. If you like a given designer and she/he isn't producing clothes in your size, why don't you write her? Organize a petition or something.

  5. Pretty informative post. I choose clothes that fit me and I don't even care about the size label. Well, I just check for it one sec but then the most important thing is if it fits.

  6. I cannot even go clothes shopping anymore without getting extremely frustrated--I have to try on at least three of every size to know which fits. I wish we could standardize. I wish we could learn to let all of this go and know that clothing size means nothing about what you look like or your body shape. I wear the same clothing size as a friend who is the same height as me but a good fifteen pounds lighter than I am because I am narrower and muscular while my friend is thinner and broader. So you cannot judge a book by its cover or a body by its clothing. Personally I think we all look better naked!

    jen boda
    boda weight loss blog

  7. Good thought woman are very conscious about their clothes size.

  8. I liked the posting & think that it will be helpful for others. Keep up the good work. Good luck.

    Web Royalty

  9. It is not about the price and the brand. Go instead for comfort and quality when buying clothes. You can never go wrong with that advice.


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