What's Your Size? by Melissa

Friday, January 13, 2012
The other day I happened to be in Chico’s with my grandma. Wandering around with her I found the most beautiful cardigan on the sales rack! What? Chico's again? Man, I really just need to get over my aversion of the store and accept the fact that they have some cute stuff. Anyway, cream sweater, down to the knees, textured, comfy, and what? A size 4! Perfect.

I found the nearest mirror, threw my stuff on the floor (literally) and wrapped it around me…it was HUGE for my narrow frame. What? Did I suddenly pull an Alice in Wonderland and shrink? Check the tag -- yep, size 4. The sales lady watching me (and probably laughing) informed me that their size 0 is a size 4/6 at other stores. So the sweater I was wearing was an 8/10 in another store. Bummer!

Lesson learned:  sizes are SO arbitrary! I spent the rest of the day moving from one store to another with grammy looking at sizing. I am a different size in almost every store! I go from wearing a XS to a M! 

What does this mean? I have so stopped caring about the size on the tag, no one can see it when I am wearing it anyway. Shopping isn’t about the size you fit into it’s about what size makes you look amazing.

So what stores sizes work best for what figures? Personally, I have found that Express is for the super long, super model, skinny type. Old Navy and American Eagle tend to cater to the average height maybe even a little shorter side (I might be a little biased since most people are shorter than me). J.Crew is for a wealthier crowd which inherently is a little older so their sizes are actually bigger than those at Zara, Forever 21, H&M, Express, etc. Anthropologie sizes are a little smaller than J. crew, and Abercrombie doesn’t have anything resembling a realistic sizing chart. Plus, lots of stores now carry petite and tall sizes!

If you're ____,
long and skinny
average height
wealthier, older
smaller than average             
a toothpick
then shop at these stores.
Express
American Eagle, Old Navy
J.Crew
Anthropologie
Abercrombie & Fitch

So stop shopping for a preconceived size and shop for the perfect fit. Cut out the tag, toss that nonsense number aside because 8 doesn’t mean “You are 8 sizes too fat.” And a 0 doesn’t mean “You are perfect.” What is perfect is how to feel when you are wearing it. Feel amazing? Then it’s the perfect size.

44 comments :

  1. Well pointed out! I get annoyed having to try on 3 different sizes in stores and sometimes even then the fit just isn't right. I'm based in the UK so may do a similar post - thanks for the inspiration!

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  2. I stopped paying attention to sizing because of thrift shopping. You get so many different brands and labels all mixed up that even if the numbers all say 6, they won't even fit remotely the same. I threw on a "medium" cardigan at a thrift store once and it was HUGE on me, even the saleslady next to me exclaimed on it when I laughed.

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  3. This DOES become a problem, though, when, like me, you're somewhere between straight & plus sizes. I go into a store trying to use this mindset, but when only 50% of the clothes (if that!) fit me - and the rest would need to be plus sizes, which means I need to shop someplace else entirely! - it can be pretty disheartening & makes looking at the labels really key. I only shop at a few straight-sized stores - Old Navy, J. Crew, Target, sometimes Banana. The rest aren't worth my time & energy hoping something in a size 14 fits.

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  4. Hahah!  I love your round-up of the store "types".  It IS true though, from my experience in working in fashion,.  Each brand tries to keep a consistent "fit model" that adheres to their ideal measurements/proportions.  As much as I love J Crew, I can never fit their bottoms right.  They fit for a more straight and narrow in the hips and little to no derriere. 
    Surprisingly, F21 bottoms almost always fit me perfectly, even length, so who am I to complain about their cheap prices!  For me, BR and JC always fit funny, but Anthro and Club Monaco have good fits.  It's all about trial and error and then you'll generally become loyal to that store!  Oops!  Sorry I wrote a big long book - it's just a topic that I have a lot of experience in!

    xx Vivian @ http://diamondsandtulle.blogspot.com

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  5. I love this post. So true!! 

    xo
    ~Eryka 

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  6. Stores are so weird with sizing I can't figure out my size esp with the fact that I have lost weight so I REALLY can't figure it out. J Crew is the same problem their stuff runs big I bought an X-Small sweater from their sample sale mind you I can't hit into a x-small ANYWHERE. I go between a small and a medium but a x-small?! no. A&F is just ridic they run way to small. When I was in HS thankfully I was twig and lived in that store. When I hit college and put on the college weight there went ever shopping at A&F and Hollister. H&M is another store where you are NEVER the same size in any of their clothes. I can be a 4 in one skirt but a 10 in another. WTF am i even in the same store?!? I wish stores can just have a conventional size it would help with shopping. Also finding jeans that fit right is ridic hard now and days I think a lot of companies have forgotten that some of us ladies do have a butt. UGH. I love shopping but sometimes it's so aggravating. 
    http://fashionistanygirl.blogspot.com/

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  9. Thrift stores are a great way to learn to shop by appearance of the item. I learn a general size (XL-M for shirts, 6-12 for skirts!) and search till I find something my SIZE, not what the tag says! : ) It's very disheartening to clothing shop sometimes, my chest is on the larger side so all the clothes that fit my waist (which is relatively small) don't fit up top-making it quite un-modest by my standards. I loved your overall message though! You are what you are, not the size of your tag!
    Natasha
    A Modest Fashion Blog:
    www.natashaatkerson.blogspot.com

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  10. I love this post, it took me a long time to realize there are just some store where nothing will EVER fit me. I have to disagree about Express though, because I am short and curvy and I LOVE their stuff. Although I don't have any pants from there, only skirts and dresses.

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  11. Sian Hannah ThomasJanuary 13, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    I did a post about this sort of thing a while back (here: 
    http://xrebelangelx.blogspot.com/2011/02/vanity-sizing.html). I'm not really bothered about what the tag in my clothes says, but it's starting to get annoying that I never know what size I am in any shop!! I can go from a UK 6 to a 12, and certain shops even 6s don't fit!! It just seems ridiculous because I'm not that small, I'm a pretty average sized person yet I can't get things to fit me in shops sometimes!! I have friends who are just quite petite but not particularly 'skinny' and they end up in children's clothing because shop sizes are getting bigger and bigger. It's just crazy!

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  12. I am different sizes at different stores. That's why I never shop online.

    http://www.thegirlieblog.com'

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  13. I can't wear Abercrombie or A&E as I'm umm top heavy, the clothing just fits awful.   I hate that I have to know my different size for various stores, and even WITHIN various stores, i.e. Forever21. But my general rule of thumb is if it's for old people Chico, Talbots, etc it's going to be vanity sized and huge. If it's for the younger hip crowd, you better be skinny.

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  14. I completely agree with you about not worrying about size- I wish it wasn't such a huge issue in our country. I hate that companies size things so vastly differently, as well, simply to make women with larger frames feel smaller; it's about the way things fit and look on you, not the number on the tag!

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  15. Anthropologie it is then - thanks for the handy guide!

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  16. any advice for petites? i'm not a size 2, but i am short and petite. i usually shop anthro's petite section and banana republic's. 

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  17. Did you know there is a whole petite style community? Check out Petite Fashion Blogs.

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  18. Although I appreciate the heart of this post and am a regular blog follower, I was pretty unhappy to read this post. I disagree with your store generalizations, which are borderline judgmental (so if you fit into Abercrombie clothes, you're a toothpick? really?). 

    I suppose average height is around 5'4", and granted I'm 5'7", but I don't think AE or Old Navy clothes fit very well. And with J.Crew I don't think they run large at all. Some things actually run pretty small...like their 3" shorts or some of their sweaters. And with Anthro, they have a lot of different lines within the Anthropologie heading, and each line has a different fit. I've been able to fit into a size 2 skirt there, and I'm definitely a size 4 skirt, size 6 pant. And I'm actually wearing a pair of Abercrombie & Fitch skinny jeans right now that were bought recently, within the last 6 months. Size 6. And they totally fit. And I'm not a toothpick.

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  19. I disagree about Express.  I'm 4'11", thin, and curvy (in the chest/butt areas- 34D).  Express fits my curves and thinness extremely well.  So well that my entire work wardrobe of basic pants and button-up shirts are from this one store. The pants are always too long, but I hem them myself.  I agree that they fit small waists, but just wanted to add that they fit curves as well!

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  20. Completely agree.  Express Editor pants fit amazing for people with curves (and thin waist for me too).

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  21. I'd heard that about Chico's.  Actually, the saleswomen announced it as soon as I entered!  So, it must be a big thing with them.  I've never bought anything there, though.  I've found that I'm usually the same size in most stores.  I agree that pricier clothing tends to run bigger, though.   

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  22. This is a great post. Lately, I've ranged from XS to L and sometimes in the same store which made no sense. Since I have little kids, I like to be able to just grab my size and go but since sizes are so arbitrary, it makes shopping much more of a chore. But It's good to know I really need to try something on to know for sure that it fits and looks good.

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  23. A+F has pretty realistic sizing, but it fits differently than other brands. If you have some weight on you, but you're not curvy, then they fit great. I'm 5'10, 145 lbs., I have a wider frame and usually a size 4/6 depending on the brand. Because I have a small ass, it's difficult to find pants that don't have a lot of extra fabric on the back. Ugh. So far, I've had the most luck with AE jeans but they're never quite long enough.

    I also have a big problem with shirts that are too-short. I wear XS or S because I'm flat chested, but with most stores, they tend to make XS/S an inch or two shorter. I've had the best luck with the GAP longer length shirts and Hollister.

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  24. Lol, If you're "a toothpick..."

    I feel like you can find clothes in your size anywhere, it's just going to be a different size in every store- as you know from shopping with your Grammy :)

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  25. This is a great article. I think those who are hung up on their weight are usually the ones who insist on shopping by size, rather than the actual item. And I agree that A&F's sizing chart is ridiculous too - their store caters to young adults but the sizing is more consistent of children's clothing. I'm 5'2" and their skirts and dresses are indecently short even on me :(

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  26. Melissa | I Still Love YouJanuary 13, 2012 at 9:29 PM

    AMEN. Size doesn't matter. However, when I was working in retail (at a store that shall remain unnamed) I learned about sizing: Juniors vs. Women's. Juniors are typically odd sizes & run really small. I'd be a size 9 in some junior's stores & a size 00 at other women's stores. 

    Additionally, My husband did an economics/finance internship at the giant Walrus in Arkansas the summer we got married & learned something very interesting. There's a direct correlation between income & clothing sizes. The Walmarts that were near the lower-income areas sold out of their larger sizes first. The Walmarts near higher-income areas sold out of the smaller sizes first. Isn't that crazy? 

    This sort of explains that some of the higher-end (or those wanting to be) designers tend to size things smaller than lower-end retailers. But that's only part of it. The age demographic really plays into sizing as well. Chico's, Coldwater Creek & J.Jill all use vanity sizing. 

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  27. So interesting! Thanks for your comment.

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  28. I grew up in a country that does not have a preconceived standard for clothes sizes. Everything was just XS, S, M, L or XL. But since all the stores had their own way of sizing, a S in one store may be an M or an XS in another. So we never really cared about sizes, because it was pointless. We'd just pick clothes that didn't look like they were too big or too small for us.

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  29. Great post!  I'll admit it's hard to not focus on the size but I really should.  Plus I'm not in my 20's anymore.  I'm in my mid 30's and a mother of two.  My body changed and I can't think I can fit clothes when I was younger.

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  30. i COMPLETELY disagree with the way you described J.Crew. Yes it is expensive and its hard having an addiction for their beautiful clothes with a small income. But for older people? yeah right! J. crew i have found has perfect sizing for EVERYONE. J.crew is for everyone! if it was cheaper, i would say, away with everything else! J.crew for all!

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  31. Sizes are not well understood by a lot of people, and I think it contributes to some of the hangups that young females can have with their weight.  I'm fairly tall (5'8") and have small bones, but a wide frame, so when I was underweight because of medication, I was still a size 8.  My doctor and many friends and family were concerned about me.  It's not possible for everyone to be a size 0.  I'm healthiest at a size 12, or maybe a 10.  

    I worked for Banana Republic, and they use vanity sizing, too.  Over the years I've known a lot of 20-somethings who love BR and JCrew (my 24 yo sister and her friends are big fans of their clearance merchandise) so I would disagree that younger people aren't into them.  Probably more of a budget factor, as you mentioned, than an age factor. 

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  32. I also disagree with the description of JCrew. JCrew is expensive but it's definitely not for "the older crowd". I'd say that JCrew offers plus sizes, petite sizes, tall lengths, and their shoes go up to size 11. You can get around the prices by shopping at their outlet store or hitting up their clearance racks. I'd say the demographic for JCrew would be the 25-35 age set.

    Chandra
    More Modern Modesty

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  33. I'm the same way. I toe the line and yeah, for my friends it's frustrating to me that they might have to try on a dress in a different size, but for me if the largest size they have doesn't fit, that's the end of that. Old Navy, Target, and JCPenney are stores I can walk into and buy something. A lot of stores fall into the "maybe I can find something, maybe I can't" category, and that kills because I'll love a top but there's no going up for me if it's only made up to a large and it's cut a little small. Frustration nation.

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  34. Great and honest post. So true! Especially at thrift stores too!

    Judy
    SecondGlimpses.blogspot.com

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  35. In my county, everyone ages 10-35 wears Hollister Co. and Abercrombie&Fitch. It's just what you do to fit in. However, my News Years Resolution, is to dress more modest as I cant expect other people to resecpt me if I dont respect myself, right? So Ive been looking for modest clothing sites. Ive already spent a fortune at ShabbyApple.com but my reason to comment is because I agreed with your post. Im a size 4 now but I used to jump sizes 0-6, but no matter what size I was, if the clothes I was wearing looked good on me, I didnt care about the size, and more women need to realize that thats a better way to look at yourselves. Anyway, great post! :)

    Everyone is welcome to my "coming soon" blog, Modest Mousey!

    modestmousey.blogspot.com

    Love and Peace! Kylene. ♥       

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  36. thank you for posting about this! its so frustrating to shop for clothes because you really have to try things on!

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  37. So according to this post, there are six stores to shop at?  And depending on our age and build, we should shop at just one?  So helpful.

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  38. Perhaps you should look at it as a sampling of stores instead of a restrictive post of only six stores.

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  39. How is "wealthier/older" a way to associate with a size?? That makes no sense... J.Crew sizing is generally average.

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  40. I shoul have said more on the wealthier side. I totally agree. Not "old" but not teenager style like a & e. Don't get me wrong J. crew is my favorite store.

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  41. As someone whose mom shops at Chico's (and drags me along sometimes), I can tell you that a size 4 at Chico's is NOT "a size 8/10" as you stated. 4 is the largest size Chico's carries and it is way bigger than 8 or 10. My mom is a size 14 and wears a size 2 or 3 at Chico's. I'm a size 8 and my one top from Chico's (it's cute, I swear!) is a size 1.

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  42. Funny.. I only familiarized myself with Chico's last night when I placed an order of pants with them online. I read their sizing chart and it suggest I was a XXS (what the hells bells?!) and after reading some customer reviews, they said that the pants ran big... Now I'm not sure if they ordered their typical size or the "Chico size" but I went with a XS (taking my chances) and fingers crossed that it fits haha. If not, they're always a good tailor in town :) 
    http://coeurdecors.blogspot.com/

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  44. Great post! I agree with how you feel in your clothes is what makes them perfect. I do however also disagree about Express. I am 5'2", very curvy and love their clothes. All my pants and pencil skirts are from there and fit perfect. I simply have to choose the fit that works best for my body. The wide waistband Editor fits like a dream for curvy bodies.

    www.rigstyle.blogspot.com

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