When I stumbled upon an article about vanity sizing a few months back I noticed that a lot of people were upset. They want a standardized sizing method here in the U.S.. They hate the size 0-20+ vanity size clothing. Blah, blah, blah…
I think because I sew I have learned something about vanity sizing. Or at least I have formulated a theory on vanity sizing. I think that designers know that people are so insecure with themselves that if they put the real size on the dress there would probably be a riot. For instance, when I go into a store and decide to buy clothes I can buy the size zero in most items, sometimes the size two and rarely the size four. However, when I make my own clothes I have to cut the size twelve (12) and rarely do I make more than a half inch to an inch of an adjustment to the area for the hips, but usually I take it down two sizes for the bust area, which puts me at a ten (10) for the bust and a 12 for the waist and hips. So without vanity sizing from the designers I take it that would mean I would need a 12 in the store. Now think of the people who walk into the store and buy the “vanity” size 12. If designers put the size as it would be if the customer had bought the pattern, cut it out and made the outfit for themselves, then that would probably be about a size 24. I think designers know that seeing such a jump in clothing size would shock the “vanity” size 12 person into avoiding the stores. If women stop shopping everybody loses money…well, except the consumer who can happily keep their hard earned cash in their pocket.
Of course they could also switch from a basic sizing digit to putting the measurements, but that’s an issue onto itself. Some of the clothes I make want the high hip measurement, which is different than just taking the regular hip measurement. Then there’s the difference in how you can measure the bust area, knowing the inseam, the waist to back length measurement, etc. I mean which measurements are they going to squeeze onto that tag? I know mostly all of my measurements except for the ones I can’t do for myself, like the neck to waist measurement (done from the back), and I don’t know my inseam…mostly because I don’t care. Seriously, I’m short. If the pants look long I can guarantee I’m going to have to take them up. I can buy a pair of pants on sale and still end up paying another twenty to thirty dollars to have alterations if I can’t do those alterations myself. I’m still learning to sew; I’m not a master of the craft yet. I have started making pants and I know I’m going to have to measure my inseam and stop measuring from pants that already fit lengthwise…that would require not being lazy on my part 😉 and a little more finagling with the measuring tape.
Basically, knowing how to sew has made me think about all the possible reasons designers sew those cute little numbers into the back of clothes. Mostly, I think it has more to do with trying to appeal to our egos than anything else. That, of course, is just my opinion. I don’t know any designers so I can’t exactly ask them why we’re still using vanity sizing.