As part of my day job, I receive various news about the retailing industry—from which, I bring you the following abuse of numbers, apparently particular to women’s clothing.
ABC News’ Good Morning America recently reported about “vanity sizes” in women’s clothing:
[C]onsidering pop culture’s obsession with thinness, for many women no size is too small.
“I had, one time, a client who said, ‘I get into a 10 now,’ ” said Bridgette Raes, a fashion consultant. “She was originally a size 14. When she could get into a 10, and then into an 8, she was like, ‘I know that it was a lie, I know that this really isn’t a 10, but I love the fact that the label says 10.’”
That may be the thinking behind vanity sizing — which means clothes are cut bigger, but sized smaller.
“Manufacturers and brands are trying to really make women feel good about buying their brand,” said Marshall Cohen, a retail industry analyst. “If you were worried about being a size 14 or 16, I can make you feel great by a size 10 or 12.”
One size 0 could have a waistline of 28 inches, which is, according to American Society of Textile and Material, a size 10.
It’s not a new topic. This article, from The Arizona Republic in 2004, indicates that vanity sizing has been around a long time, and when efforts periodically emerged to (re)standardize women’s sizing, the apparel manufacturers ignored them. By contrast, men’s clothing sizes have largely stayed the same over time.
I suspect most women understand vanity sizing, and per the article, many appreciate it. So among the sins of misusing numbers, stretching the standard-sizing truth is like a white lie that everyone’s in on. After all, if the scale doesn’t lie, clothes can at least fib.