How common are non-arbitrary women's clothes sizes?

A lot of clothes are simply described as small, medium and large. For most clothes, that’s good enough. However, when I look at the clothes I have which are supposed to fit well (pants, dress shirts, suits), they all use numbers which indicate a real, actual dimension and allows for pretty good comparison of clothes.

For example, my size 16 shirts means that the collar has a circumference of 16 inches, thus making it fit for someone with a 15.5 to 16 inch neck.

When my trousers say they’re 32, that means their circumference is 32 inches, thus making it fit for someone with a 31 to 32 inch waist.

The same holds for suits.
What is it like on the women’s side? I get the impression that it’s all 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc, that those numbers greatly shift from one manufacturer to another and even shift over time within the same manufacturer.

Is this true?
If so, how come? Are numbers which can be compared to each other to give clear information that scary?

Even if most people are scared of non-arbitrary numbers, surely there are women who are fit, know it and are quite fine knowing that the size of the pants that fit them is 28 inches, not “size 3” and appreciate not having to deal with the nonsense of arbitrary numbers. Is there anything for them?

The only female item of clothing I know which uses meaningful numbers is, of all things, the bra. It tells you the size of the ribcage and how much bigger (in inches) the chest is once you account for the breasts. Isn’t breast size one of the most sensitive issues? How come meaningful, clear information about breast size is accepted but not the rest?

Finally, how common is it for women to use made-to-measure or bespoke clothes?
Is it true that it’s pretty much all size 0, 1, 2, 3 etc?
How come?
Are there major exceptions among brands, styles or types of clothes?
How come bras give clear information?
How common are custom-fitted clothes?

If you think bras give clear information, you’re sorely mistaken. I know they’re SUPPOSED to, but bras are no different than any other women’s clothing in my experience. You gotta try 'em on to see if they fit.

As far as sizes: 0123 etc. Even numbers are typically for women, odd numbers (5/7/9/11) are teen or junior sizes. That’s not to say that sometimes the junior sizes fit women or vise versa.

How come? Who knows. It’s incredibly annoying, though. I have jeans that span 3 different sizes that all fit me.

I think it’s going to change eventually, if for no other reason than clothing stores want to sell clothing via the Internet, and consumers will be more apt to buy if they know the sizes will reasonably fit.

Yes, the sizes are arbitrary numbers, which do not correspond to anything. The most you can get from a size tag is an idea of small, medium, or large, which lets you decide how to get started trying it all on. If an item fits, do not pick up the exact same item in a different color…you will have to try that on as well.

How come? Clothing manufacturers are evil and ought to be crucified. I think some people believe that women enjoy shopping because it women will spend all day at it, but it actually just takes all fucking day. (See, now I’m starting to get angry…breathe. Breathe.)

I do have one pair of custom-made jeans (should get some more), and I frequently have my clothes tailored. I will also wear clothing for… well, forever… in order to avoid shopping for replacements. Today, I am wearing a skirt that my mother grew out of at some point in the eighties.

I’ve been delighted that J. Crew has started sizing their jeans with waistband sizes and multiple inseam lengths. I think a couple of other stores have started that, too. However, I always forget which size I am, so I have to look at the little chart in the store that gives the conversion from 0,2,4,6… to 25, 26, 27, 28… Eventually, I’ll get it, so I hope it becomes more universal.

As to shirts, though, I don’t really see vendors going in a menswear direction with sizing. Neck circumference and arm length really aren’t the important dimensions for women. I would love to be able to find shirts with sizes related to bra size.

I get stressed just having to go shopping. I find one or three stores that I ‘know’ the sizes of and I stick with them like glue, as long as the prices remain good. I just can’t stand this arbitrary sizing crap and it bothers the hell out of me.

But I read where men’s clothes are starting to do this, too, and I admit to a kind of grim glee. Nice to know it’s not just our sizes that are all wonky.

My personal and unresearched opinion is that sizes are arbitrary and random to massage egos. So if someone wears size 8 in Brand A and size 6 in Brand B, how likely are they to buy Brand B in order to say “I’m wearing size 6!!!”

I personally hate how so many jeans are either Short (Petite), Average, or Tall. Heaven help you if your inseam falls somewhere between those arbitrary parameters. I’ve got “Average” jeans that are high waters and others that I walk on. Where’s the logic??

Life would be so much easier if we could live it naked.

Oooo, that makes me want to SMASH. I like my pants to be just underneath my ankles; that’s where it feels comfortable. I am actually “average” height at 5’5" - except the pants aren’t long enough at that height. The best I can get is just halfway down my ankle or just touching it. “Tall” drags on the floor.

When I last went to the store, I found these new slacks that are meant to be highwaters. They reach halfway between capris and regular slacks. I’m like, WTF? DO NOT WANT.

Women are strange creatures, really.

Or used for medical experiments. Either way.

To make things even more difficult, some clothing chains have their own unique sizing, like Chico’s. I’ve also seen some clothing sold in Target that’s like this. Seriously, there ought to be a law against this kind of crap.

:rolleyes: Yeah, because we ALL do that. No, actually, the rest of us curse out these creatures. Really, we curse out the clothing manufacturers who cater to them!

Maybe we should instead be looking at what causes women to want to say they are smaller sizes than they actually are.

Another rant: the same piece of clothing in different colors have different sizes. No kidding. I ran into this a few week’s ago, trying on jeans. Had one pair in a light denim, another in dark denim, both the same brand, same style, same size. The light blue ones fit; the dark blue were too small. WTF?!?

The same thing happened to me: the black ones wouldn’t go up past my knees, but I could have raised a family in the light-colored ones. :mad:

Me too! I was trying to buy a pair of black slacks and a pair of gray slacks. I walked out with only the gray slacks. :frowning:

Women’s sizes are complete bullshit, so much so that I have to know what sizes I wear with what brand. I wish I were kidding when I say I have shirts that fit me perfectly well ranging from sizes S through XL (though most commonly M and L). I have jeans in three different sizes, which shouldn’t happen considering my body doesn’t change in the time it takes me to switch from one pair to another. The reason, as **Dung **pointed out, is because clothing manufacturers are evil.

I’ve also taken to sticking with the same few brands because I know how their clothes will fit me. I never *buy *from a new place online, sizing charts me damned. Most sizing charts you see on a retailer’s website are something they drew up on a cocktail napkin, with numbers randomly assigned to sizes. They are completely worthless and should be disregarded.

The good news for me is having had the same body for a long time, I’m pretty good at eyeballing what will fit me in the store. I don’t even check the size half the time.

Re: bras. While far more consistent than, say, jeans, once you start getting into certain sizes, manufacturers just start making things up as they go along too. Even if your Official Bra Measurement is, say, 36DDD, good luck waltzing into the intimates section and finding one that fits. If you’re a 36B for example, no fuss, no worries. You find your size, it fits, the end. Once you start getting booby, fuck it. Bra shopping will be just as maddening and inconsistent as jeans shopping.

(Rubs forehead) I really do enjoy being a girl. I do! But sometimes…

Enough of you do it that it makes sense for the clothing manufacturers to accommodate, the only thing that deserves a roll eye here is the silly idea that they are not doing it because it is what the majority of women have shown they want.

As much as I’d like to think that we’re all too aware and self-accepting to fall for silliness like this, it’s a valid point. (Checks closet… yep, still own at least one article of clothing that I’ve never worn, but bought in approximately 2005. I’d lost a lot of weight, and didn’t care whether it was flattering or useful. It fit me, and the arbitrary number on the tag was 2, not 20!)

Unfortunately, I don’t know of a reliable way to size most women’s clothing without driving up the costs for manufacturers and consumers. Pants could be sold with a combo of hip size and inseam, but the waist would still be problematic (or waist and inseam, but the hip would make more sense.) I’ve figured out a potentially great system for bras, but I need to find a manufacturer who will pay me money and then implement my plan!

The truth is that there are a enough women (I’m looking at you, Mom) who only want to wear sizes below a certain number, that it really does make a difference in sales. For a lot of women, if they can fit into an 8 at Jill’s dress shop, but have to wear a 12 at Jack’s, they will shop at Jill’s because they will feel better about themselves. Having grown up shopping with my Mom, it took me a long time to get to the point where I choose clothing based on fit rather than number.

This is the reason behind Chico’s unusual sizing as well. I admit I enjoy wearing size 1.5 pants, even if I have no idea what it actually means.

Only if you think the markets accurately reflect what the majority of people want.

Do you mind if I ask how old you are?

This may be a different thread entirely, but I read that post and immediately thought “Women like this still exist?” Can’t explain it without giving it more thought, but it strikes me as the very old fashioned “Little girls should wear pink and have long hair” sort of mindset that ran wild with my mom’s crew, but is pretty much non-existent in mine. I know, body image issues most certainly are not a generational thing (though it’d be nice if that kind of thing were on its way out), but this idea of not wanting to wear jeans larger than size 6 strikes me as… outdated.


I tend to stick to a few brands that I know what size I wear in, and still my closet contains clothes from size 6 to size 12, all of which fit.