Have you ever been ‘medium’ in one store, ‘small’ in another and ‘large’ in another?
Click start to play today’s crossword puzzle and find the answer to the “Clothing Size Indicator” clue in 7-Across.
Clothing sizes, especially for women, have become incredibly confusing these days, where even though many women in many countries are physically larger than before, brands have changed their measurements to make shoppers feel more thin.
According to an August 2015 report on the American news website The Washington Post, a size eight dress today is almost the same as a size 16 dress in 1958. What if you were a size eight in 1958, you wouldn’t even be able to find an equivalent size in modern times – dresses in this size are probably smaller than size 00 today.
Even if you’re not comparing sizes by decade, just hold a pair of size six jeans from one company to another, and you’ll likely find variations in the waistband of up to six inches, according to an estimate in the American magazine TIME.
Also, if you’re on the heavier side, you might only find a limited number of clothes that fit, shoved into a corner of a department store. Emmy Award-winning Hollywood actress Melissa McCarthy, who is currently a size 14, commented on the practice in a July 2016 interview with US website Refinery29, when she said, “If I have a friend who is a size six, we can’t go shopping together. They literally separate us.
According to the TIME report, although 67% of American women wear a size 14 or larger (considered “plus size” or “curvy”), most stores do not carry these sizes.
Why, you ask me? That’s a good question, with a very convoluted answer. Much of it comes down to increasing the size of the vanity or making buyers feel good about their size (hence, the previous generation’s size 16 is today’s size eight).
Additionally, women’s clothing sizes today (in Western stores) have their roots in a government project during the American Depression era, when a pair of statisticians were sent to investigate and measure nearly of 15,000 women, with the aim of determining the average height of a woman. The idea was perhaps to standardize the measurements as had been done for men’s clothing. Since the development of military uniforms, men have been able to find most of their clothing with only a few numbers or letters (S, M, L, XL). So it could work the same way with women, right?
Needless to say, statisticians have failed to do this with women’s heights. With so many varieties of body types, it was impossible to find a way to standardize women’s body measurements. So, statisticians came up with using arbitrary numeric sizes that weren’t based on any specific measurement, and that’s what we still use today. Basically, we expect the sizing system that works on shoes to work on our bodies.
The problem is that when people buy clothes online, they can’t determine their size and end up having to return the clothes. According to the TIME report, almost 40% of customers return clothes due to sizing issues.
Maybe it’s time the fashion industry got its act together and made clothes with a clear view of the people who wear them. Startups are already taking steps in the right direction, asking online shoppers to enter the size and brand of their best-fitting clothes, before recommending products accordingly.
Until then, women are going to have to go all out to find the perfect cut, in fitting rooms around the world.
What do you think of women’s clothing sizes? Play today’s crossword and let us know at [email protected]