What's the deal with women's clothing sizes?

I never understand when a woman says she is a size 6 or 10 or what have you. As far as I know it, even these numbers seem somewhat arbitrary from brand to brand. At least when it comes to guys’ clothing sizes, they make sense as they are based on inches.

So what sort of units are used to determine women’s clothing sizes?

Part of the problem is that there has been a tremendous amount of ‘inflation’ of women’s sizes in the past several years. The manufacturers must have found out that they could sell more clothes if the put a tag that was a size or two too small, because women who buy them feel better about themselves, so they started cheating on the sizes.

If a woman says she is a size 6, she’s probably more like a size 10-12!

Here is an example of a size chart that shows you the measurements in inches that correspond to the size. (It’s the third chart down.)

Women’s clothing sizes are a darn stinking lie is what they are. In one brand I wear a size 6, in other a size 8, in other a size 10. Look, I don’t care which of those sizes I am as long as it stays consistent from brand to brand. Don’t get me started on small-medium-large.

burundi walks away, muttering about how she hates, hates, hates buying clothes.

Women’s clothing sizes are never bigger than “petite.” Just like all eggs are Super Large, Grade AAA or better, cereal always comes in the Gigantic, money-saving package, and the gasoline that you pay 10 cents a gallon extra for will “clean your engine as you drive.”

As far as I can tell, women’s sizes are arbitrary and constantly changing mainly because most women don’t really want to consider or give out any real measurement numbers relating to their size. It’s the whole “Don’t ask a woman her age/weight/measurements” thing. This is why I hate shopping in chick departments, because it’s a long involved process of trial and error.

Shopping in the guys’ departments is so much easier because while I haven’t the faintest clue of my size in any women’s clothing (aside from bra and shoe sizes), I know my measurements and can find a pair of men’s jeans that fits on the first try.

– Dragonblink, who’s a 36-28-37 165 lb chick and doesn’t care who knows it.

Sometimes it depends on the designer – in better sportswear, for instance, a size 8 could actually fit someone who’s a size 6, but you wouldn’t realize it until you tried on the outfit. There are also some mainstream brands which run the same way. From my experience, as an example, Levis run small, while Wranglers run a bit big. My ahem figure, such as it is, fits perfectly into Gitanos and Lees. I’ve given up on the other brands…:rolleyes:

Then again, it’s one of the reasons why I trust nothing but my comfy sweats when I’m hanging out! :slight_smile:

Hmm, maybe that’s the case where you live. Here it’s different: “petite” is a euphemism for “short”, so you can be, say, a “petite” size 16.

Kate S

Damned if I know what the deal with womens’ clothing sizes is.

Once you get into the “plus” sizes, it gets even more complicated. Apparently, a size “14W” is supposed to be equivalent to an 18. Huh?

And maternity clothes? They say to “buy your pre-pregnancy size” because the sizing accounts for the pregnancy weight gain. Double huh??? Some people gain 80 lbs. Some people gain none.

And the brands are cut so differently. A size large T-shirt from Patagonia would be tight on Teri Hatcher. A size large from Gramicci would drown Rosie O’Donnell.

Males sometimes complain about how women have to try stuff on all the time. What else are we supposed to do?

Umm…go naked?:smiley:

I have no damn idea.

I think cost has a lot to do with it though.

For instance (for me…5’9" 145lbs):
GAP jeans…size 12
Liz Claiborne slacks…size 10
Lauren by Ralph Lauren slacks…size 8
My $600 suit by someone…size 6

I’m sure if I sprung for Armani I’d be a size 4. It’s insane.

I think the biggest problem is that women don’t just have “waist and inseam” like men, we have the added problem of hips. Some women have narrow hips, some don’t. I’ve never been able to wear Guess or J. Crew because they seem to be built for boyish figures…they’ve always been too big in the waist and too tight in the hips.

Throw in the fact that designers are just starting to make pants in “short” “regular” and “long” and you’ve got a nightmare on your hands.

Feel for us boys…we really hate trying on clothes as much as you hate us doing it.

And don’t even get me started on bras.

Um…a “14W” is supposed to be a 16, but cut fuller. As I understand it, the standard even sizes (4,6,8,etc) are cut to fit a size 8 fit model, and sized up and down accordingly. “Women’s sizes” (the ones with a W after) are cut to fit a size 20 fit model, and are sized up and down accordingly. If you are built more along the shape of a size 20 woman (big bust, broad back, and evidently gigantic upper arms), go for your size in W. If you are built more along the shape of a size 8 woman (small chest, narrow waist, broader hips, flat stomach), go for your size in the regular rack.

That said…every company has a different shape of fit model. I can’t wear anything at all from the Gap (or Old Navy, the same company) because they use flat-chested, flat-stomached, broad-hipped fit models. BUT…Liz Claiborne and Lee use fit models in my shape, so I get a size 14 and off I go. Easy.

So…try on a million pairs of jeans, but when you find a brand you like…that brand will fit you no matter what size you gain or lose into. It’s all about the company’s fit model.

Warning: I Am Not A Fashion Person! YMMV

add in the problem of Uk and european sizes to the equation and it becomes even more hellish!

eg. i’m 5’1’’. about 100 pounds, 34-24-34. so i’m skinny all over with big boobs and broad hips for my build. my inside leg is 30’’, meaning regular trousers often fit.

Gap- size 0 (um…i know)
Gap kids- L or age 12-13.

Benetton and other european brands -38

Uk brands- anything from a 6 (30) to a 12 (38)

now, i understand that in “clothing world” short women are supposed to be either dumpy or built like a 12 year old boy. i’m neither.

i’m fine boned, and skinny but i have hips and breasts…grrrr!

Women’s clothing sizes are sadistic and evil. Half the time, I can’t even be sure of being a certain size within one store.
(Size Disclosure: 36-29-39, about 140-145lbs. I have a size 8/10 upper body and a size 12/14 lower, thanks to itty-bitty little shoulders and big fat thighs.)

I have size 10 jeans and size 12 jeans from New York & Co., size 11/12 from Express, and size 14 from Lucky. (Oddly enough, the size 14’s are the tightest.) Gap/Old Navy Jeansare always too tight through the legs and 4 inches too big at the waist. I have a medium-sized dress from a store where i can’t fit size 11/12 pants or skirts around my rather large hips. My shirt sizes run the gamut from small to large. There’s just no rhyme or reason to it!

If someone would just wave a nice magic wand and say: "arisu, you will always wear size 14 and/or large, I would be overjoyed. Shopping would be so much easier.

And then you have to factor in the inconsistency within brands, which is why you should always try stuff on. Not so much with high end clothing, but the lower end stuff is made with a cookie-cutter process that is at best spotty for keeping sizes “true”. Whatever that means.

If women sucked it up and used the men’s jeans sizing system things would be so much easier. But that would involve a lot more facing of insecurity than more people want to deal with, so nooo… I worked in a clothing store for a summer, and it was always so sad to see people lying to themselves about what size they wore.

I think this thread should go in the pit! I HATE the way women’s sizing works. When I was in junior high school and “filled out” prior to all the other children, I used to be DEVASTATED to find out I had to wear a larger size than I was shopping for when I hit the mall. I was a smallish person, but having to squeeze into a woman’s size 10 did nothing for my ego.

As an “adult” (if that’s what you want to call me) I don’t care what the tag in my clothes says. Seriously. I look the same whether the tag inside says 6 or 16. I’d just like to KNOW what I can buy. Even a minimum RANGE would be nice. I have clothes in my closet from an 8 to a 14 that are all ACTUALLY the same size…MY size. And it’s not like I’m a FREAK or something. I’m a pretty normal sized person.

Don’t get me started about Victoria’s Secret not carrying bras in my size.

In my wardrobe, I have clothes that are a size:

1 (European sizing?), 3 (American), 8 (Australian), 6 (Australian), 10 (Australian), 26 (jeans), 28 (jeans). I have a suspicion that jeans sizing uses hip measurements, but I’m not certain.

I always try stuff on. It’s the only way to be sure. In most high street stores I pick a 16 (US 12, roughly) and maybe a 14 or and 18 for comparison.

While browsing Harvey Nicks in the January sales, I found that I fitted into a skirt labelled UK12! That’s all kinds of messed up: I have 42 inch hips for Pete’s sake! Even if it was meant to be a low slung hipster skirt, that’s not right. It would have barely clung to the pubic bone of an actual size 12 lady.

Dorothy Perkins: 14
Top Shop: 16, sometimes 14
H&M: 18
Whistles: 14
Knitwear: L
Bras: 36B
Bras made by Lepel:38B
Measurements: 39:32:42, height 5’8"and a bit, don’t know what I weigh, but it must be at least 155 pounds.

What’s worse is they even vary within a brand. I have a pair of size 10 Tommy Hilfiger jeans. They fit me great! Not too tight, not too loose, I love 'em. I went to the mall once to buy another pair of jeans. I chose a few styles of Tommys to try on, all size ten since size 10 Tommys fit me, right? Wrong. At least two of the styles required me to go to 14, or even higher. I ended up not buying any of 'em in disgust.

Then there’s Ralph Lauren. I don’t know who he designs for, but last time I was in the RL discount store, I attempted to try on jeans. When it got to size 14 and I still couldn’t get them above my hips, I gave up. At that rate, it would be a size 18 or 20 before I could get 'em to fit, and (as most women know) most “designer” stores don’t carry anything above a size 16 at most. Besides, I have a psychological problem with buying jeans above size 14.

For what it’s worth, I have 10’s, 12’s, and 14’s in my closet right now. I have at least two pairs of 14’s that are too tight, and one pair of 10’s that are baggy. I rejoice because it’s summer, and I can just wear my #$@! shorts… size L, thank you very much. Oh, wait, these ones are M… and this one is ‘one size fits all’… dammit, I’m going naked.

Theobroma–Thanks for the explanation of “W” sizing. That makes sense. Of course, the sizing is still all wack, but it’s nice to know that there is some rhyme or reason to why there are 2 different scales.

One thing that I wish womens’ clothing makers would account for is that there is such a huge variation in womens’ hip/waist ratio. Women commonly complain (see above) that pants that are too tight in the hip are too loose in the waist. Lots of other women, like me, have the opposite problem. (I suspect that the big-waisted among us are less likely to complain publically about their problem. Who wants to advertise the fact that they’re shaped like a 55-gallon drum?)

These differences get even more pronounced as the sizes go up. I carry more weight on my waist and upper body. My butt and thighs are relatively small. Yet other women of my abbreviated height and advanced weight have small waists and huge butts and thighs. It seems that everything I try on is made for these women. I can get a size 20 around my waist, but then I have yards and yards of extra material hanging off my butt. (exaggeration. don’t yell at me) Maybe I can get rich by starting a store for the fat-bellied lady.