Menswear Meets Vanity Sizing: Popular Apparel Brands Offer Inconsistent Sizes
As a woman, one of my least favorite things to do is wear pants; I'm more of a dress- and skirt-wearing lady. But I do own one pair of jeans ... that I spent three months looking for. Between finding the right size waist, length, cut, and wash, I was trying on a new pair of jeans almost every day.
In fitting rooms of frustration, I have tried to understand why is it so difficult to dress one's lower half in slacks. The fact is, vanity sizing has long-affected women's wear so much so that sizing from store-to-store and brand-to-brand doesn't measure up consistently to any scale. I have long-envied the dude who can pick up any pair of jeans, check the back label, and be done. W36 L36. Perfect. Right?
Turns out clothing manufacturers aren't leaving men out of this self-esteem boosting / piercing trend. According to Esquire's The Style Blog, a men's waistline tag reading 36" can vary in actual girth from 37" (which they consider honest) to a whopping 41" (straight up dishonest).
Not only do these measurements confuse one's self-image, but they make it especially difficult to shop online for clothing. Even if you keep a measuring tape on hand so you can be honest about your dimensions, chances are you'll still run into problems with specific brands if they're fudging the numbers. Abram Sauer at Esquire discovered that H&M's dress pants are mostly true to size (37" for a pair that claimed to be 36"), while Calvin Klein, Alfani, Gap, and Haggar offer breathing room of up to 3". The biggest offenders of vanity sizing are Dockers and Old Navy, whose 36" waist actually measures 39.5" and 41", respectively.
So what does this mean for your online clothing shopping? If you consistently wear a size 36" at Old Navy, and that fits you fine, great. But when you go to buy a nicer pair of dress pants, perhaps from Calvin Klein, don't expect a 36" to cut it. The process of finding what does work for a new brand is largely trial and error, so avoid buying styles that can't be returned. With a little bit of patience (and a swallowing of one's pride), you can overcome the tribulations of inconsistent sizing. And considering how many apparel deals you can find at any given moment online, it's well worth the effort.
Front page photo credit: Daily Mail