TOP 5 THINGS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT CLOTHING SIZES

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As a guy I have to admit, clothing sizes wasn’t something I spent a whole lot of time thinking about when I was in my previous life (architect). I wouldn’t be found shopping that often as it was more based on necessity, or a birthday, or Christmas. Usually the latter two. I had what I had and that lasted a very long time. Usually way past the “shabby” stage to the “it’s got a hole in it” stage. Even then…. 

My experiences in shops were always brief. 

Enter with item in mind; see the dressed mannequin; pick up those things; try them on; that will do; buy them.

But that was then. Now I’m involved in the fashion world. My wife is a fashion designer and Creative Director of Arkdefo, and I’m picking up a lot of information I never knew, or would even think of. Why would I? Surely clothing is a workable model that has been tried and tested? They make what we want? Supply the demand?

How wrong I was. 

This is a list of the top 5 things I’ve learned about clothing sizes.

 

1. Different Stores Have Different Sizes


I didn’t realise this was a thing - but it is. A size 10 here is a size 8 there. Why would you do this??!! What is the point in having a sizing convention if you completely disregard it for your own ends. No wonder people get paranoid and have body issues.

 

2. Clothing Sizes Can Vary Within The Same Size

In volume production, aka “fast fashion”, they use a huge sharp blade to cut through multiple (100’s) of sheets of fabric at a time. This is meant to be efficient, which it is, but it loses accuracy as there is a difference across all the cut sizes. This means that they can make 100 size 8 tops and no two are the same. How are you meant to know what you are getting if you order online?

 

3. Clothes Aren’t Made To Fit Us

How can they? They are made overseas, in some distant factory, to some average, generic size. Does a size 38 chest allow for your belly? Have you measured your neck?What about your shoulders? Arm length? Arm size? No? Why are you buying it?

What about the shirt buttons, holding on for dear life, as the belly forces everything forward, stretching the shirt open to reveal the pasty white flesh below? 

Yes, chest 38 but belly 42. 

How about trousers? You have a 33 inch waist so you have to buy a 34 inch pair. Now you need a belt to hold the rest in place. A sort of crumpled homeless look. The legs don’t quite work out either. Too long, or too short. 

It is impossible to mass produce clothing that fits an individual, yet we buy something that “almost fits” and settle for that. 

I thought men’s clothing was bad until I learned about women’s clothing…

 

4. Woman’s Clothing Doesn’t Account For Body Shape

Good God, this is a Pandora’s Box of insecurities. 

When you think about it, it is so obvious but I didn’t think about it. Women are like snowflakes in that no two are the same, yet clothing will tell you otherwise.

Size 12. Where? Bust? Hips? Waist? 

What does that even mean? What about her height? Shoulders? Bum? 

Honestly, I had no idea what a total nightmare women’s clothing sizing was until Liza started telling me endless stories of horrible shopping experiences.

For example, a pair of jeans in Europe is cut differently than a pair of jeans in the UK. Why, if they are both a size 12? In the UK they size allows for a bigger tummy. How are you meant to know that?

Women are the largest consumers of clothing, yet they are treated the worst. Yet they keep coming back. It’s a toxic relationship fuelled by endless negative marketing and PR campaigns, telling us all to buy more to feel better. You can’t tell someone they are in a toxic relationship as they tend to defend it. They have to see it for themselves.

When (as a guy) you see the body shaming and underhand marketing tricks used to make women feel rubbish, just to buy more stuff, it is horrendous. Guys don’t really get any of that treatment

 

5. What They Make Is Just Guesswork

Why are there so many sales and why does so much remain unsold? Basically, they have no real idea what they are making and for whom. Yes, they may make more size 8-10’s than size 16’s, but that is about it. The rest is guesswork. These brands flood their stores (and online platforms) with garments they think you’ll buy. They don’t really know you. Their algorithm may help identify things you have looked at, or bought previously, but none of that fits you now. 

What happens to the majority of unsold stock? 

Landfill or burned.

What happens to the majority of free online returns? 

Landfill or burned.

What happens to the majority of your old clothes if returned in-store for a discount voucher? 

Landfill or burned.

 

So, what can we do about it?

A good start is to value ourselves more. 

Instead of settling for something that almost fits we should demand better. It is our money after all. We spend so much on clothing yet give it all away for free, sometimes after only a few wears. 

We all want to look good and we all want to feel good but, for the majority of us, the answers we are looking for are not on a high street clothing rack.

Maybe it’s time we revisited tailoring services, consider made to order, or learn how to make our own clothes?…

 

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