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4.7.09

Pick a size, any size

Here is a little article I wrote on clothing sizes in Australia for another publication.

Before the idea came across my desk I wasn't entirely aware of the fact that there is no standard for clothing sizes in the Australian textile market. When I did a quick vox pop of my friends I was amazed to hear that most of them varied wildly in 'size' depending on the label.

It got me thinking about how much our self esteem is linked to the size on the tag of what ever it is we are wearing.
I'd love to know what you all think.


'Erin McGowan wanders through the sale racks at Myer, eyeing off dresses and skirts that hang on rails marked by size.

She heads for size 12 and selects a silk dress, holding it up to her slender frame in front of the mirror.

"It’s a shame, it won’t fit me though, not in this brand," said Ms McGowan who regularly fits a size 10-12.

"I can vary from a size 8 (Valleygirl/Temt) to a size 14 (Betinna Liano) in jeans. In other forms of clothing there is no consistency. I can be a small, medium or large in different brands," she said replacing the dress and heading away.

Australian women face this problem everyday in shops all over Australia, as there is no standard clothing size used in the Australian fashion industry.

Kate Brown, a journalist who participated in a recent CHOICE study into national clothing size standards, said that shopping can be an emotional roller coaster for women when trying on clothes.

"I do worry about the effect sizing can have on young women - to find out you don't fit into some designers 'vision' of what they think is the norm could have a devastating affect on self esteem and a healthy body image," Ms Brown said.

Editor of Ragtrader Tracey Porter however thinks that the fashion industry can’t be held responsible for Aussie womens’ self esteem.

"In reality, fashion businesses like all commercial entities have the right to target whomever they chose with their product," Ms Porter said.

"Whether they risk alienating a particular consumer segment or miss out on sales as a result of their decision is a risk they have to take," she said.'


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18 comments:

ana b. said...

This is always a pertinent issue. It took me a while to realise that size doesn't matter - knowing what suits you and the fit is actually the more important thing to look out for. Today, I had to no qualms about asking the girl at the store to find me the biggest size they had for a tee-shirt dress because I envisioned the fit to be quite slouchy and baggy. Of course she came back with a size 16 and I had absolutely no worries about it because it looks a dream!

Jo Fong said...

As forward and carefree as I imagine myself to be, I consider myself a 9-10 in jeans. Finding a lovely pair of 'relaxed' fit at ben sherman (on sale!!!) I tried on a size 11 and couldn't get them past mid-thigh! At this point I realised how much the number of the size affects me as I adamantly told my bf that there was no way I would try a size (or 3 ...) up as I couldn't stand the thought of having a size 12+ anything in my wardrobe.

*sigh* if I only I could be more like ana b. above!

Cyma said...

It can be very frustrating. But its not just in clothing, I am in the process of finalizing products for my homewares line and find even in that there are quite a few discrepancies as far as standards are concerned.

esme and the lane way said...

Sizing seems to be so random – that is why thrifting or vintage shopping can be so freeing, in that you just hope the perfect thing you've found also fits, regardless of the number on its label.

angelaseeangelablog said...

Great piece LM.

Not only is it clothing, it's shoes too.

This might sound weird but I actually like going into the change rooms and playing with sizes. I'm a size 8 and I like to take a 8,10 and sometimes a 6 or 12 too. I like to buy blouses a size bigger so their more flowy and less clingy and jackets a size smaller because I have weird, narrow shoulders.

XXASAB

KittyMeow said...

There's a thread on the Vogue forum about this and my answer was that I think we should be having the measurements of a garment put on the tag instead of some arbitrary number.

That way you can tell at a glance if it will fit (if you know your own measurements that is).

Patrizia simulacra said...

if our self-esteem is reliant upon the sizing of clothes then we must be a brittle bunch. Designers have their templates for specific sizes and if you don't fit within their range be thankful. I mean, some pieces just don't suit a person unless they are emaciated. I think it is more important to wear clothes which suit your figure whatever it is and everyBODY is different and should be celebrated. Sizing is irrelevant.

Danielle de la Mont said...

I have a great deal of insecurities but the label size has never worried me for some reason. Just because the dress says 12 doesn't mean you are any fatter than you were in the size 8 labelled dress you tried on a minute ago...

It is annoying though - I find brands geared towards older women cut larger, for example I am a 6 in covers, and a 10 in valleygirl.

Nicole said...

I like the way mens clothing works; sizes are standard, based directly on measurements and almost no men care what number is on the tag.

Even if they think they're a 32" waist, they won't have a problem if you hand them a 36". They just want it to fit, look good and be comfortable. Nice and straightforward with no emotional drama.

We can learn a lot from the male approach - as others have said, fashion sizes can be quite random. I like to carry a tape measure, and if the numbers don't add up, I'm unlikely to take it to the dressing room. If I'm trying on more than one size, I'll always go for the largest first because it's nicer to find out that it's too big than be stuck (or depressed) by something too small.

Nice highlight of this issue LM!

diamondsinchampagne said...

Oh how this annoys me to no avail.
Bettina Liano especially, I am a size 8 (have put on some weight so instead of my 6-8. I am more of an 8-10). I actually find it quite disheartening when I walk into stores like BL and am a size 12 in jeans.
They really should do something about this, makes shopping online a bit of an issue too!

Rosie Unknown said...

I hate the way clothing is sized! I usually just go through the sizes, holding them up until I find one that looks about right, then I try it on, and go up or down a size as needed.

pigtails and blushing cheeks said...

hear hear, i find i fit into the smaller sizes at cheaper brands like valleygirl and jayjays whereas i fit into bigger sizes at pricier stores.

kathrynoh said...

It's something I really hate. Buying a bigger size doesn't bother me but going to the effort of trying something on then having to get another size does - especially at cheaper stores where you don't have an assistant to help out. I'm more like to leave empty handed than get dressed, hunt down a different size and start all over again.

The size on the tag doesn't worry me at all, it's the inconvenience. One of my friends studied design and patternmaking and according to his notes (which would probably be as close to an industry standard as we have) sizes are much smaller than you'd think and most places go in for "vanity" sizing.

Annie said...

ah!this pisses me off so much! I am a 12(uk)but have started wearing a 14 because I have a black girl's ass(the only way it can really be described)and the thighs of an olympic sprinter...

Linn Ekholm said...

wow, this really hit me. Over here (in Sweden) we do have a standardized sizing system, but as I read I thought to myself, what if I were to go into a store today and realise I've gone up five sizes over night. Even if I would know my body hasn't changed, it would still bother me alot. I think you are very right in saying we get affected by this. Even though we all know we shouldn't. Because size doesn't matter....

YU said...

Last week I had to shop for a suit and I found the sizing quite ridiculous. While I'm usually a size 10, I find that in suits I ranged from a size 6-10. I was wondering how actual size 6 people were able to find work attire.

elena-lu said...

yes now i know that it varies and dont look exactly at the size but how it looks since i sometimes think a small will fit only to see it is way to tight! but i dont get crazy about not fitting into a size since im a small and a medium at the same time just depends on the brand! but it took a while tyo figure it out!

Tea Lady said...

I really dislike Australian sizing. I'm an Aussie living in America and really appreciate the somewhat standard sizing here. I'm always a 6-8 US here. In Australia... It can range anywhere from size 8-14 depending on the make. It can be very disheartening.