As a woman of Sicilian descent and the corresponding womanly figure, I have noticed a disturbing trend in women’s clothing. It’s a lot smaller than it used to be.
Not only that, but it’s not as well made. Quality control issues abound: too tight (or too long) sleeves, narrow shoulders, blouses that fit everywhere else but won’t button, sizes that fit three sizes different than marked and more.
Sizing women’s clothing is a crapshoot and I blame China.
When mass market clothiers decided the cheap labor offered by China would help the bottom line, they opened a Pandora’s box of problems.
That became crystal clear the other day when I walked into a well-regarded women’s clothing store. I’d say it was moderately priced, not too high and not that low. I was wearing a top that I’d bought from the store more than a decade before. Maybe even 14 years ago. It fit fine.
But when I tried on some of the current tops in that size, many were too small. Some weren’t. But some were. The inconsistency is what hinted that this was a quality control issue due to overseas manufacturers.
We women have long decried the inconsistent sizing between brands. You might be a 10 in one store and a 6 in other, but in yet a third you might well be a 14.
Sizing for “the common woman”
The “common woman” is different in every store. Some stores seem to cater to the pear-shaped woman, as if most women were built that way. I am not that woman, so I am not interested in tops that are short, nipped in tightly and narrow in the bust.
But even with that in mind, when I go to a branded store, I expect sizing to be consistent within their brand. Not true today and it’s frustrating.
Of course, I COULD go to a couture house, if I wanted to spend a fortune, which I don’t. But even if I did, couture designers are uninterested in designing for women who do not conform to a clothes hanger. Clothes just don’t look as aesthetically pleasing on real women, they think.
I could deal with that, because I don’t buy couture. But what I can’t deal with is the inconsistency of sizing within a brand. Even in tshirts!
I ordered a tshirt online for the women’s march in January. I am big-busted and I don’t like cling, so I ordered an XL. The shirt that came was MARKED XL but there is no way around the fact that it was a SMALL. In fact, it probably fit Riley. I don’t think it was an error, either. I just think that’s the way they size today.
Now, that was an extreme case and I did get my money back.
I did buy a heap of clothes at that favorite store, many I intend to bring to France in May. Now, though, thanks to the Whole 60 I’m on, those are pretty big and alterations will be necessary.
Why can’t women’s clothing be sized like men’s?
But still. When a man buys a pair of pants in, say size 34/32, that’s what he gets. No matter where he buys it. 34 inch waist, 32 inch length. But for a woman, a 10 is not a 10. It could be any size at all. It’s a gamble, really, to pull clothes even in a brick and mortar store. I normally bring at least two sizes of everything in a dressing room and have pretty much stopped ordering online.
We need our clothing sized the way men’s is. But it’ll never happen.
I’m not sure what can be done about this, either, except to let retailers know that we’re noticing, through reviews and emails. I can’t begrudge them their desire to cut costs and improve profit margins. But I do fault them when they do so at the expense of the customer.