1sunfight’s Weblog

July 20, 2008

The Insanity of Clothes

Filed under: Daily Observations — Julie P @ 4:36 pm

I have a love hate relationship with clothes; I always have and I always will.

Growing up and well into my adulthood I had been runway model thin and slightly above average height, which made finding clothes that fit me, especially pants, challenging. On the other hand, the clothes that I could find that fit were always of high caliber standing, fueling a lifelong passion for beautiful clothes. This is the backdrop of my love hate relationship with clothes.

After I quit smoking in my mid to late 30’s I put on some weight. It was not a lot, about seven pounds. Until that time I had thought I could not put on weight, so I resigned myself to the Twiggy look, but after seeing weight go on I went on a very disciplined regimen to gain weight, which I did. Although it was followed by some weight loss due to a stressful semester in college, two vicious colds, and an unpleasant drop in income. Once I found a job where I could buy all the food I wanted and got me off my feet I went back to my ideal weight and size.

Currently I am roughly 40 pounds heavier than I was in my mid thirties and seven inches bigger around. Last winter when I went to replace clothes that no longer fit and to add to my wardrobe, since I needed more professional clothing for my new job, I had a fit. Like in years gone by it remained difficult for me to find clothes that fit properly.

I buy beautiful suits cast off by wealthy women who have nothing better to do with their time than to go shopping and buy clothes they will never wear, but instead of returning them they get sent off to consignment shops to be sold. In my winter trip to the consignment shop knowing my size and measurements I tried on clothes in “my size”. The clothes fit, but after trying them on they were not as pretty as I thought they would be, so on a lark I tried on designer clothes in smaller sizes that I liked. Lo and behold they fit. I bought the “size 4’s” and hung them along with the “size 6 and 8” pants that populate my closet, with some of my “size 6” pants becoming too tight these days. Yes, the very pants that I bought and had hemmed because they always come a couple of inches too long. Of course, in the same trip I found an extremely beautiful red velvet dress labeled “size 10”. In my mind it is not possible to be all of those different sizes. I even have similar problems with shirts and blazers. The only type of clothes that I am able to find that are consistent in their sizes are jeans, with many of the ones own a size 8, but not all, and my t-shirts, or other clothes that can be labeled “size medium”.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I went out to add a few summer pieces to my wardrobe since I do not have as many professional summer weight clothes as I would like. I pilfered the racks of clothes trying on all sizes from “size 4” to “size 10”. Most of the clothes, including the “size 8’s” were too small. I was not the only person experiencing the same thing. The four other women in the fitting room were having the same problem. We all concluded that summer clothes must be made smaller than winter clothes. I will go so far as to say that summer weight clothes are also not as forgiving as winter weight clothes. Summer clothes do not camouflage body imperfections, both real and imagined.

I did leave with a few items, a beautiful “size 8” dress, jeans, and blouse along with a “size 10” pair of linen shorts, and the softest of silk “size 10” designer pants that are being altered because they are four inches too long.

I have had this same conversation with many women over the years about the lack of consistency in clothing sizes. Until recently I never had this conversation with a man, not one, and then I heard something from one man about his difficult time with finding pants. I wrote it off since he is short, until I got into an e-mail exchange with my brother about his diet that evolved into the same conversation I have experienced with women. Clothes are labeled one size, yet is another, with clothes from days gone by and still hanging in the closet, being much smaller still.

Not once in my life did I ever consider that men would have this problem as well. Their clothes are clearly labeled in inches for this, that, and the other. And to be perfectly honest, most of the men I have ever known, and what I see going about their lives, do not appear to have the same concern with clothes as women do, so I never thought they cared about clothes. I was wrong.

In my brother’s e-mails to me he was just as exasperated as I am with finding clothes that fit. While on his diet he has lost 35 pounds and is looking to lose another 7 pounds, which is consistent with my weight gain and consistent with the same problems that I just described.

I can only conclude one thing; that even though manufacturers claim they have universal sizes and measurements for clothes, manufacturers, in fact, do not. They have slip shod guidelines for no obvious reasons. I have heard the argument that it is about size inflation because Americans have gotten fat, and that we need our egos stroked, yet that does not explain the experiences that I have, even within the high end designer clothes where that position is especially prevalent. Plain and simple, there is no guideline for clothes sizes, just estimates, and it is maddening for both women and men. We just want a little more consistency in sizing, so we do not have spend two hours in a store trying on clothes until we find what fits us.

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