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Size Matters

Gals, here's why your dress size varies from shop to shop

Blame “vanity sizing”.

AS EVERY WOMAN will know, finding clothes that fit can be a rather trying experience.

Especially if your size varies from shop to shop.

In short, they’re kind of insane and make no sense.

A new report from The Washington Post highlights how women’s clothing sizes in the United States have changed dramatically since 1958 thanks to a phenomenon known as “vanity sizing”.

What is vanity sizing? Allow The New York Times to explain.

As the American population has grown more diverse, sizes have become even less reliable. Over the years, many brands have changed measurements so that a woman who previously wore a 12 can now wear a 10 or an 8, a practice known as “vanity sizing.”

This graph from The Washington Post reveals that a US size 8 (UK size 12) today was equivalent to a size 16 in 1958.

A US size 8 in 1958, meanwhile, has no modern-day equivalent.

waist Washington Post Washington Post

So, why the discrepancy?

Once upon a time, the US government drew up a standardised table of women’s size.

But back in the early 1980s, this was thrown out the window and clothing manufacturers were left to come up with their own clothing sizes.

Many opted to “flatter” the customer by tweaking the sizes downward.

And because there is no standardised size that the entire industry uses, different shops are essentially free to do what they like.

As Slate wrote back in 2012:

…by 1983, the government withdrew the standard entirely, damning future generations to inconsistent fits and many, many mail order returns.

And the phenomenon doesn’t just exist in the United States: earlier this year, a Buzzfeed correspondent traveled around the UK high street and discovered that size 16 jeans varied wildly from shop to shop.

In short: the fact that you’re a size 12 in one shop and a size 10 in another is nothing to do with you.

Ugh, right?

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