Fashion Course Update: Part II

As part of an online course I’m taking, I need to do some research into how sizing works in the fashion industry. As in, how they decide to size our clothes. The prompt to the assignment says I must go into my closet and pull out a clothing item from some of my favourite brands. It needs to be the same item though – like a pair of trousers, a t-shirt, a blazer…you get the idea. And because I am currently going through a hate-phase for all items denim, I decided to focus on my jeans. When I have a couple of these (which I do) I need to write down the sizes of all items, and then try them on to decide on the best fit. Once I’ve landed on something that fits me perfectly (or I fit I like best) I have to take a picture of it and upload it online. I also need to submit a write-up on what my thoughts on the sizing industry are. Sounds absurd, I know. Who could possibly have ‘thoughts’ on sizing? I do, as it turns out. As I was researching for the article, it struck me that even though the topic sounds inane (not to the clothing manufacturers), I have actually spent a lot of my time and mental energy on this. Sizing has, to use a popular phrase I see all over Instagram nowadays, ‘lived rent free in my head’ for ages now.

Who hasn’t walked into a store and thought they knew their size only to be proven wrong? If this has happened to you, don’t worry. It isn’t you; it is them. The sizes aren’t uniform. A ‘small’ in Mango does not mean you will fit into a ‘small’ at Zara. I simultaneously own jeans with a waist size of 24 inches, 26 inches and 28 inches. This is for jeans I have picked up from the women’s section in clothing stores. If I try on a pair owned by my brother (which I did as part of this exercise) my size ranges from anywhere between 26 to 32. And then there is the whole concept of ‘vanity sizing’.

I first found out about the term ‘vanity sizing’ when I was fourteen. I remember it was in the context of a huge debate surrounding the health implications of being size 0 – because a super famous actress had just attained it and was going around town advertising (what sounded like) the extreme diet and workout regime she had to adopt to get down to that size. Being the impressionable (and jobless) youth I was, I started looking into what I needed to do to get that size. I think one of the main requirements of being a size 0 are having a 24-inch waist. This was something I had as a skinny fourteen-year-old with zero effort on my part. Simply because my body was still a child’s body and hadn’t stopped growing. This, however, did not stop me from being immensely proud of this non-achievement and talking about it with my girlfriends at school whenever I had the chance. Not a very healthy thing to do, I know. But everyone was talking about it at the time, and I just so happened to be on the ‘right’ side of the tracks, so I made the most of it.

Now that I have been asked to think about it critically – to look into the history of sizing, to find out why men and women have different sizing practices, to investigate how the concept of vanity sizing came into being – it makes sense to spend so much time on this topic. Having said that, it doesn’t really feel like anything new has taken up residence in my head. I have always spent time thinking about this. I think most people do – especially women. I haven’t had too many discussions with the men in my life to find out if this is a major thing in their lives too. But I have noticed something. Whenever we talk about shopping, women are always more ready with their measurements than men are. At least in the circles I have been a part of. Most men in my life have a vague idea of whether or not they fit into a medium, and maybe remember their waist size from the last time they had to measure it. On the other hand, a lot of women I know (myself included) are always extremely acutely aware of their sizes – across brands too.

I measure my sizes obsessively. I have fit into the same sized jeans for the last 7 years. Even so, I get upset if I can’t fit into clothes I bought as a teenager. Isn’t that weird? There is apparently a psychological reason (apart from the obvious ones) why a lot of women are obsessed with their sizes. I think it has something to do with the way clothes are advertised. It makes for larger profits I imagine. I have a lot to say on this and I need some time to get my thoughts in order. Once I do, I hope it turns out a little better than this semi-rant.


  1. ibatra171 says:

    So many important points! My favourites:
    1. Simply because my body was still a child’s body and hadn’t stopped growing.
    2. Most men in my life have a vague idea of whether or not they fit into a medium

    on “It makes for larger profits I imagine” – Watch this!


    1. Thanks !! I’ll check the video out 🙂


    2. I checked it out. “If women start rejecting impossible beauty standards, we are out of business.” Lollll I can’t stop laughing


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