It’s a scene familiar to many of us; the label says it’s your size, but it’s baggy around the waist, or too narrow across the shoulders. Yet, in a different label, a dress in the same size is the perfect fit.
Standard sizes disappeared in the 1970s; nowadays every label has its own sizing guidelines, but that’s not all. The advent of ‘vanity sizing’ (or ‘size inflation’) has confused consumers even more; clothes that are nominally the same size have actually become larger over the years. It’s a problem in many countries (the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand); particularly widespread amongst cheaper clothing labels; and – no surprise – more prevalent in women’s apparel.
Men’s clothing sizes are more standardised, because they’re based on the exacting requirements of military uniforms although even that’s changing: the inside leg measurement remains accurate, but the waist label is no longer quite as reliable.
Vanity sizing, as its name suggests, is designed to make shoppers think they’re slimmer so they feel better about themselves. Of course, it’s a myth: manufacturers have modified their sizes so someone sized 12 about 30 years ago would now be a size 8 – no dieting required! Online shopping has made the problem worse, as women can’t try on the outfits – in the UK, there’s even a website to help women work out their size in different High Street labels (http://sizes.darkgreener.com). Generally, labels targeting younger shoppers have smaller sizing; labels for older women are cut more generously.
Clothing sizing has become a nightmare, for the consumer and for the manufacturer. At Arrow Uniforms, we don’t like to upset our customers but that’s not easy when it comes to the tricky issue of size. We make a point of being consistent in our sizing, although our honesty doesn’t always endear us to people used to vanity sizing. But we can help you with our unique APPRO SERVICE allowing you to request a selection of sizes sent to you to help get what’s best fitwise.
Cut, fabric and styling are also important fit-wise in any garment’s size. Waistbands are always rising and falling (now going up); men wear their shirts ‘tucked in’ for the corporate look, but untucked for casual clothing. Stretch fabrics are more forgiving, so they’re easier to wear.
As we’re getting bigger, our shape is evolving – people are far more ‘straight through’ these days, New Ze aland women are losing their waists, and – unlike the UK and US – haven’t returned to wearing corsets (now called ‘body shapers’). The newly-fashionable ‘hourglass’ figure is actually very rare these days, but especially in New Zealand with the strongly entrenched attitude that people must ‘accept me as I am’.
There’s only one solution. Always try on clothes before buying them, remembering that every label is different, and – most importantly – ignore the stated size – it’s meaningless. Don’t squeeze into your clothes; you won’t look your best, and nor will the clothing. Let the mirror give you the answer, not the labels. Arrow Uniforms are always happy to let customers try clothes on ‘appro’, to ensure you get the right fit every time.