It is pretty well-known that Marilyn Monroe was a size 12. However, in modern times she could fit into anything between a 4 and a 10. These gaps in numbers alone demonstrate how confusing and frustrating our sizing system is.
To actually document the inconsistencies, I went out to SoHo and bought jeans from Topshop, Zara, and Forever 21. They were all labeled as a 4, but the results were vastly different. The pair from Zara ended up fitting very loosely on my waist, while the ones from Forever 21 were so small that I couldn't even zip them up. The jeans from Topshop were the only pair that actually fit me properly.
Our sizing system suffers from size inflation, which started as a marketing strategy to make women seem skinnier in order to sell more garments. This makes the arbitrary numbers on our clothes even more abstract and ambiguous. However, when I talked to Lynn Boorady, an associate professor and chair of fashion and textile technology department at SUNY Buffalo State, she changed my mind. She said:
Vanity sizing was done as a marketing tool. I don’t think it’s done as a marketing tool anymore. I think it’s done because the women are getting bigger, and we’re just addressing that. The original sizing charts never had sizes 0 and 2. Now we select sizes 0 and 2 because the sizes are getting smaller and smaller and we’re getting larger and larger but we’re also adding at the other end.
She also pointed out that when ready-made clothes first came out, women were expected to alter clothes to fit them correctly. It may be a far reach if we expect something off the rack to fit us perfectly when we live among the most diverse group of people in the world. Check out the video above to learn more.