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

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  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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

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