As a fashion-minded woman, shopping literally is therapy for me. Whether it be done in a brick and mortar store or online, the thrill I get out of purchasing something I truly love and will wear for years is an amazing experience, second to none.

Unfortunately, that thrill has become less enjoyable of late as the brands I once thought of as “brainless buys” have changed their sizing, making going to the dressing room and being extremely disappointed a more frequent occurrence. For the better part of my life, I have been a curvy size 4, but now when I go into stores like the Gap or H&M, that size 4 has now turned into a size 8 which makes me wonder, “What size am I?” Other brands like J.Crew I have found are taking another approach seeing that my size small has now translated into an extra small, making me all the more confused as to which of the three brands is actually correct.

Vanity sizing has long been an industry practice that has been used by brands to increase the morale of shoppers by adjusting their sizing so that for instance my size 4 self could fit into a size 2. The Gap was always a brand I believed to take part in the practice really giving more leeway in fit to women like me with curvier frames, but now it seems that their sizes have taken a different course, making me feel much bigger than I might really be and leading me to wonder if their recent turn in a more high-fashion direction is causing them to cater their sizing to women who are shaped like models, instead of the average woman.

Take for instance this statistic from a New York Times article on the subject: “A woman with a 32-inch bust would have worn a Size 14 in Sears’s 1937 catalog. By 1967, she would have worn an 8, Ms. Zulli found.”

A company that is trying to combat this sizing issue is MyBestFit, which is setting up kiosks in malls across the United States, giving 20 second full-body scans which ultimately provide you with your sizes in close to 50 participating stores including American Eagle, Ann Taylor, Talbots and more. It might not catch on, but it is at least a beacon of hope that can make shopping easier and less stressful.

What do you think of vanity sizing? Is the disparity between brands a turn-off? Which are your favorite and least favorite brands to shop in terms of fit?

Image Source. Quote source.

-Faith Cummings

  • Andrea

    I’m not too concerned with what size number I am, so long it’s consistent. I love to online shop so vanity sizing makes this especially challenging.

  • C

    For me, tops tend to fit the same across brands. Always a medium. I hate shopping for pants and jeans. I can fit anywhere between an 8 to a 12. It seems that expensive brands are usually smaller, a size 8 in a more high end brand would be much smaller than a size 8 in say from Old Navy.

  • same problem

    I know what you mean. In my head I’m a size 7, maybe 6 or 8, but I’m comfortable in a 7, or I use to be. About two birthdays ago when it was time for some new clothes, I tried on a 7 (pants) and my thighs were like girl stop. I had to go to a size 11/12 and it still didn’t fit right (like you I’d say I’m curvy.) I thought it was the fact I was in “smaller fit” stores, but jc penney, sears, etc. mostly had the same issue. Tops are easier but I need to try on pants to be 100% sure. I don’t hate it but its annoying not knowing for sure anymore; I don’t even trust the hold them up to your waist trick.

    I wish they would stop with the vanity size crap. Who likes this stuff? I feel brands as a whole are getting smaller, and it would be nice if they’d collectively agreed–or go by measurements. Something should be changed but I really don’t think it will, at least not any time soon. It’s silly when you’ve basically been about the same height and same weight for years and have been everything from a size 2 to a size 14 -_-”

  • chanela17

    then, not to mention the sizing where instead of 1,2,3,4,5 it’s 27,28,29. ughhhh

    the very last tidbit is why it’s so annoying when people constantly try to make bigger women feel good by going on and on and on about marilyn monroe and how she was a size 12,14,16 or whatever. these dunces don’t realize that sizes were different back then. that woman was 120lbs. wtf?!lol

  • chanela17

    i went to a workshop once for this fashion and merchandising school and i asked how the sizes are done.

    the lady explained that each designer has a model that they measure and base the sizes off of. since every woman is not the same, different companies are gonna have different fitting clothes.

    two 120lb 5’11 woman are very different. one may have a flat chest, one may have a full chest. one may have a little bit of a booty, the other may have a concave booty. one may have wide hips, the other may have narrow hips. so that is also why shopping for clothes is complicated too.

    they usually take the sizes of that base model and just make it bigger or smaller, but with the same type of measurements. so if you have wide hips and the clothes based on a model with narrow hips,then the pants are not going to fit very well.

  • EST. 1986

    Why did you all delete the other article?

  • Pseudonym


    I was at the low end of the spectrum (size 0) BEFORE vanity sizing, so now I find myself completely pushed out of many stores- Limited, Express, Old Navy, to name a few that would be great for buying staples such as button down shirts or dress slacks.

  • onegirl

    Exactly! The higher end the store, the smaller your size is to make you feel good about yourself, and your expensive purchase. The problem is when you are already petite, you can’t even buy quality, high end clothes, because a size 2 is for a person that’s really a 4 or a 6, and if you are a true size 2, good luck. I have had to buy my sister clothes at Limited Too, but the tag tells where I bought it, and she feels insulted only because if the outfit/shirt/dress is made for kids, but is cute!. I guess a good tailor is the answer. *shrug*

  • Ange B

    I have found that living in Canada..when I purchase clothing from US brand stores it was always larger. And clothing from some Canadian stores would fit smaller. Size 14 in a US size would be like a size 16 or more in a Canadian store. I would then just figure out my size per store I shopped at…annoying but if you shop there more than once you would have an idea of how you fit into their sizing. Whereas when shopping for a man…most stores use inseam,shoulder…so when shopping with males I found that once they knew their measurements they seemed to be able to walk out with clothing. I on the other hand am clueless when it comes to proper measurements because so many women stores just have random sizing 14.

  • Jame Ervin (@jameane)

    The odd sizes are also “Juniors” cut. So they are cut straighter in the hips and slimmer cut in the thighs. And less curvy in the waist. So if you have any form of hip, thighs, or a butt you need to move into misses sizes (aka the evens). (Same is true for the bust.)

  • Nita

    This is my issue a (M) everywhere but my pants go from a 6-10 depending on the brand. It sucks because I cant by jeans online

  • same problem

    - james ervin: had no clue, thanks for that tip. I’ll look to misses next time
    - chanela: hmm that does make sense, using a base model. thanks for the info

  • Pingback: So JEAN sizes are NOT universal BUT WHY not?? « simplykasey

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