I need a top. What kind of top do I need? I need a top that says I am professional AF, make exceptionally good coffee, and will do all of your bitch work without complaint. Yes, friends, I need a top for my first entry-level job interview. I stroll into my local store that designs simple clothing that gives no hint of personality…”Perhaps the wrong choice for an interview,” I thought to myself after looking at the bland white button-ups, and khaki ankle length pants. “Hello, can I help you with something?” says the sales assistant ironically enough in that same outfit. “Yes, an outfit for a corporate interview.” She assisted me as best she could, pointing out other neutral well-tailored pieces that were pretty standard, I shrugged and accepted her advice. It was then in the dressing room, I became immediately angry by the sizes she had brought me. An eight? AN EIGHT? Do I look like an eight? My standard size is a four at other retailers!!!! How dare she bring me an eight, it’s an outrage, it’s a scand….oh shit, these fit perfectly. I walked out to model her choices, she exclaimed “Look at how these fit you! You never can tell with stores these days, sizes are different everywhere.”
Has this situation, or one similar happened to you? You see something you like, you grab your size and it turns out it’s too small? Or too large?
It’s important to remember to never take your sizing too seriously when shopping. Truthfully, there is no proper scale to these things and every retailer (AND I LITERALLY MEAN EVERY RETAILER) is very different.
Never take it personally – which is a lot easier said than done.
Let’s begin with a little history lesson in industrial manufacturing (I’m so happy the thousands of dollars put towards my fashion degree are finally paying off). In like…the early 1700’s there were these dudes named Lewis Paul, and John Wyatt – these men created a machine that spun cotton into thread – The Roller Spinning Machine. Then followed the Multi-spool Spinning Wheel (these men were obviously not too clever with names but they did make history so), this essentially just spun thread hella quick. The Power Loom was the real game changer, created by Edmund Cartwright – this machine wove threads into cloth, revolutionizing the textile industry. Though these machines are ancient to the clothing industry now, they were important inventions at the time, and the first steps towards mass manufacturing. Thanks to all of these dead guys for our modern savvy swag, I’m sure they would be so proud to see their hard work being put towards some of the ugliest trends since the 80s (mesh pencil skirts, I’m talking to you).
Then onto the late 1800’s when women wore extremely uncomfortable clothing, and for the first time were able to buy it in stores! Pantaloons, corsets, and bustles galore – oh happy day! It always makes me chuckle when girls complain about their mom jeans chaffing their belly buttons, would you prefer whale bone in a tightly laced corset instead? No? Shocking. Anyways, this was the first time in history that replication of royal clothing was possible (this was a big thing at the time as royalty were the same height of Kylie Jenner), and people were going crazy. Things still needed to be tailored but this cost was quite inexpensive when you compare it to having your entire closet bespoke. The only challenging part of all this was coming up with a standard sizing chart. This actually did not come into the existence until the late 1930’s, mostly to save money on alterations. This chart was taken from basically rounding up hundreds of American women, and measuring every one of them until they could equally divide what seemed to be most average of sizes…and this is where the problem began.
Though you are probably quite used to seeing vintage photographs of women with itty-bitty waists, and petite-looking frames, this was never the standard of bodies – even 100 years ago. The thing is, a body is a body, a waist is a waist, hips are hips, and there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it…actually I retract that comment purely based on the Kardashian clan. Still, MOST people cannot do much to alter their physical appearance beyond diet and exercise, you have the body you have and guess what…it ain’t standard. Please DO NOT terrorize yourself with body shame because you don’t fit into the jeans at H&M. DO NOT wish you had another girls abs on Instagram so your crop top would better flatter your figure. DO NOT be angry when you have to go up a size rather than down (or vice versa). Remember that you are spending money on an item, and you want it to fit despite the size on the tag. Honestly, if it bothers you that much, then just cut the f*#@ing tag off.
It is quite constant in the modern age to tell yourself you are not good enough. Clothing is just another way of saying it, with numbers instead of words. Always remember that every company uses a different chart, and a different ideal body shape to base its customer off of. They do not care about you, they care about your money. Almost every retailer has made a comment about how they design for “real people.” All they want at the end of the day is to make their sales goals, in any way possible. Remember that YOU are the “real person,” and your body is what makes you, well, you. Size charts make outsourcing for companies easy. It also makes it easy to judge yourself. In a world where we judge for everything, do not judge yourself for needing the size up or the size down.
Don’t even get me started on One Size Fits All stores (eyes roll to the back of the head).