Clothing Sizes, The Rant

It irritates me that many women have so much invested in a number printed on a tag inside their clothing. Seriously, who cares if it’s a 12 or a 16 if the garment fits you well? NOBODY CAN SEE THE TAG.

Wait. Breathe. Breathe.

Okay. I think I’m better now.

Recently two people in my tweet stream complained that they have three different sizes in their closet that fit them and why can’t sizes be standard? The answer to that question came yesterday; I was browsing for formal dresses online and a reviewer complained that she had to order a size larger than her pride said she should. Um, what the [bleep!]?

Women’s clothing sizes were standardized in the late forties, based on measurements of a large population segment — women getting out of the military, primarily WACs. Want to see the standard sizes? Here they are: Vogue / McCall sizing.

I can hear the chorus of outrage now. “But my waist is blankety inches and I wear a….” No, my darlings, this is your standardized size. That other — smaller — number that you think represents you? That’s vanity sizing. You get a smaller number than you’re supposed to so you can feel good about yourself.

Notice that a standard adult female cannot wear a standard size smaller than a 6; at Old Navy, this is a size 0 (three sizes smaller, for your ego). If you’re really a size 0, there’s something very, very wrong with you. Like you’re dead, or about to be dead.

Why would you want to be a size 0? Because every woman is no more than her freaking dress size? Forget whether or not the thing fits right, look at the size on the tag! Forget whether she’s intelligent, hardworking, amazing, and gorgeous. It’s all about the number.

AAaarrgghh! Breathe, Val. Breathe.

In a previous life, I was seriously interested in clothing history. I made historical clothing, I collected photos of existing clothes from centuries past (pre-1650 was my favorite, and it’s danged difficult to come by), I went to conferences about historical clothing. I still have a couple of thousand dollars’ worth of reference books stuffed in a closet. So I understand about fit. Tailoring. Wearing ease. Movement ease.

I understand that pre-made “ready to wear” clothing is largely an invention of the 20th century, and it makes me crazy when people (women) get hung up on these stupid numbers that are nothing more than shorthand for “this should sort of fit you if your measurements are close to these.”

Seriously. Go by the measurements and forget the [bleep!]ing size. You are not a mannequin. You don’t have to fit the clothing; it’s supposed to fit you. Seriously, you’re more important than a pair of pants. You should be proud of your accomplishments, your loved ones, stuff like that. Not a number on a tag inside your clothes where nobody will ever see it but you and your dry cleaner.

Remember Geranimals? Where you matched the animal tag to create outfits in children’s clothes at (I think it was) Sears? We need something like that for clothing sizes. Then maybe I can stop foaming at the mouth about it.

Thank you for reading. I feel much better now.

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