If you’ve seen me in person lately, or if you follow me on Facebook, you know I have recently undergone a bit of a transformation in terms of how I dress: I’ve taken a sudden (and wildly unexpected – almost unwelcome) interest in dressing nicely, focusing on a lot of retro styles – Pin-Up Girl Clothing, ModCloth, Steady Clothing, Blame Betty, et cetera. I am more confused by this change than anyone else, believe me – I have never thought twice about “cute shoes” or “darling sweaters;” indeed, I have held fashion in a sort of contempt for 90% of my life. If you had told me, eight weeks ago, I would have a “Fashion” category on this blog, I would have laughed you across the street, down the block, and off the pier.
If I were seen in a dress or skirt, it was because of a special occasion, or because I’d forgotten to wash my regular clothes.
Jeans and boots were where I lived, man, and happily at that. I took power from my motorcycle boots, and my identity was very wrapped up in being super low-maintenance and unfussy.
As it turns out, it’s possible to dress well and still be those things. I can still wake up and be out of the house in 20 minutes, lipstick and all (that’s right, I said lipstick,) and I haven’t worn jeans and a t-shirt outside the house in at least two months. Who am I? Not a single clue. Maybe a fledgling adult. Maybe having a mid-life crisis.
Now, I find myself wandering, wide-eyed, through a labyrinthine online maze of endlessly amazing skirts, dresses, tops, capris, shoes. I find myself saying things like, “Oooh, those are adorable,” when not referring to baby animals.
As I’ve been shopping (mostly online) of late, I remembered part of why I fled into the world of comfortable and practical t-shirts, jeans, and boots – there is seldom any size fuckery with those items, especially when dealing with men’s clothing.
In the highly variable and viciously fickle world of women’s clothing, however, what size I am remains a complete and utter mystery – a humiliating exercise in comparing size charts and reading every single review, searching for someone close to my measurements to see what did (and did not) work for them. Opening livechats with customer service representatives imploring them to solve the riddle for me.
Recently, I have purchased clothing which fits me well in sizes running from a 12 to a 4X – what?! The 12 was very generous, and the 4X was very cruel, but for fuck’s sake – could we please work out some kind of sensible, universal guideline for this nonsense? “Oh, that’s an Asian extra-large;” “Oh, that’s an English 2X.” We live in a global society, and we should act like it.
I am not getting hung up on numbers here – I don’t care if I end up as a size 5 or a size 500 – I just want to know what the fuck I am buying. I want consistency. My measurements are what is considered an “hourglass” figure by most manufacturers: At the fullest part of my bust, 45 inches. My waist, 37 inches. Largest part of my hips, 45 inches. In short, “big,” compared to the idolized 36/24/36 figure.
“Hourglass” sounds nice, right? But plus-sized hourglasses are just too much for many companies to deal with in their larger sizes – they tend to design their clothes with one shape in mind: Round. Round is fine – round is great! – but it doesn’t work for those of us who are NOT round.
They often forget that many women have large breasts – regardless of overall body size, large-chested women fight this battle every day, finding the perfect garment, only to discover the top is laughably small, and that the size which would accommodate our girls would look like a mumu. Many larger women have proportionally larger breasts, which do not fit into the …. ok, never mind – this is an entirely other rant for another time.
Back to the point at hand: I understand I am not pixie-sized – I get it that I am on the larger side. I don’t expect every line of clothing to cater to every conceivable body type, nor does anyone need to coddle my ego and tell me I’m a size four. What I want is some sanity.
Check out these size charts as examples:
This may be the most helpful one yet, as it supplies international sizes, as well as numeric and letter-based sizes to compare, and it seems at least loosely based on reality:
From that one small random sample, we see an XL person could be someone with a 31-inch waist all the way through a 38-inch waist. Seven inches of variance is a huge difference.
Women of smaller sizes have it slightly better than I do, but not entirely – “small” waists ranging from 24.5 inches to 27, “medium” from 26.5 inches to 29.92 (point-nine-two? Seriously?!) Girls in the “large” category, watch out – waists of 30.5 inches all the way up to 36.
Even more infuriating are those sites which list most of their garments in numeric sizes, only to have some pieces suddenly turn into S/M/L/XL/XXL and so on – sizes not addressed in their numeric size chart. <dramatic eyeroll>
I have no point, really; I’m just pissed at the lack of consistency. Truly, a “first-world/the struggle is real” sort of problem. There are meatier posts in the pipeline… but I needed to not think about those for awhile.
So here we are. In summary:
- Finding clothes in my size is an unmitigated bitch;
- Fuck you, most clothing manufacturers;
- Please come to your senses.