We’ve started this journey together to try to understand the ridiculously inconsistent sizing among retail brands. There’s so much that goes into finding the right clothes for your body, your lifestyle, and your identity, and I’ve spent a lot of time unpacking the emotional turmoil that we all deal with every day just trying to step outside as the best version of ourselves.
But let’s not lose sight of the issue at hand, which is how clothing brands have been complicit in making us feel this way — and not just by supporting the unhealthy beauty standards we all see plastered across our news feeds, but also by making it impossible for us to understand how their clothes are supposed to fit our bodies in the first place.
The more I think about this, the more I wonder if ‘sizing’ is even the real issue here. As I reflect on my (truly excessive) time spent feeling frustrated in various dressing rooms across America, it’s become more and more apparent that the complexity of garments goes far beyond one-dimensional sizing.
How often have you brought two or three sizes of the same garment into a dressing room, tried on all of them, but still hated each one? Even if one of them technically fit you properly and was the ‘correct’ size of that particular item, you still didn’t like how it fell on your body? That’s the crux of the problem — we’re not just talking about size. We’re talking about SHAPE.
“That’s the crux of the problem — we’re not just talking about size. We’re talking about SHAPE.”
When we start to realize that ‘fit’ isn’t as simple and linear as the size chart would lead us to believe, the true magnitude of this daunting task becomes more apparent. We’re talking about such a complex combination of issues — how a garment is cut, its fabric, its style, not to mention how you happen to be feeling about your body that day. All of these factors (and many, many more) all contribute to whether or not a garment ‘fits’ our bodies.
So women supposed to navigate the thousands of brands out there not only aware of the fact that their size will vary greatly between brands, but also knowing that even despite being able to figure that out, some of the brands still won’t make them feel beautiful?? Thank u, next.
Now I’m pretty sure this is just an open secret among women. We all know that certain brands are cut in a way that flatters our bodies, or falls the way we want them to on our frames. As we grow up and our style evolves, we pick and choose certain brands maybe even without thinking, designating them in our minds as ‘our’ brands. They’re the ones you consistently wear and make you feel like your best self, or maybe just the best version of yourself you can find if you’re in a part of the sizing spectrum that traditional retail still isn’t serving. You keep a running list in your mind (or maybe your notes app if you happen to be much more organized than I am), and without even being fully aware, you’ve restricted yourself to focusing on those brands you feel you can rely on, limiting your exposure to brands that might make you question your self-worth or leave you feeling frustrated.
And who could blame you? No one wants to set themselves up to feel sh*tty about their bodies, so we stay safely in the zone of ‘our brands’ as much as possible.
But what does this mean when we’ve gotten a new job at an office with a dress code we’ve never encountered, resolved to take a new style risk, or just decided to redefine our personal style altogether? Not only does it mean that we have to mentally prepare ourselves for a great deal of disappointment and failure as we try to find new brands that make us feel beautiful — but it also essentially means we’ll have to start from scratch! And this is just ridiculously unfair. There are too many occasions, life milestones, personal developments, and epic costume parties to feel restricted by the style you were committed to last year, last month, or even yesterday just because those are the brands you already know fit you the way that you want.
So what are we supposed to do?? A lot of women (and even some companies, to give credit where it’s due) have started developing their own solutions to this problem. The rise of fashion influencers has created an entirely new avenue of exploration for the individual woman. We can search out an influencer who has the same body type or style as we do, and see what brands they buy that we might not have tried yet. But what if they have the style you aspire to but not the same body type? What if they seem to wear the same size as you, but you still find yourself not loving the clothes once you see them on your own body at home?
It was only after having this experience multiple times myself that I truly began to understand the magnitude of the complexity of truly solving the issue of ‘clothing fit’. Because it’s not even just finding someone with the same size and style — it’s not even finding someone with the exact same body shape (as if that were possible…let’s be real) — too many factors go into this equation for it to be solved by a simple, cute algorithm embedded in the page where I’m trying to buy a new pair of jeans.
Now, I still want to give credit where credit is due. Many brands are in fact trying to figure out a way to solve this ‘problem’ (I use quotes because, to be clear, I don’t think there are any problems with women having such varied and beautiful bodies). But these companies are trying to create quick and easy solutions to an infinitely complex and nuanced problem. And moreover, they continue to put the onus on us, not the brands themselves, who are frankly far more responsible for the lack of transparency into why their clothes so often don’t fit properly.
Because — getting back to that open secret — we all know that every brand is actually cut in a slightly different variation of the female body’s shape, even before it’s then duplicated across the size spectrum that particular brand has chosen (since, as we established last week, it really is just the brand’s own arbitrary choice how they size their clothing). So we’re at a disadvantage from the start, because no brand openly announces the body shape they use as the foundation for their clothing. Which brings us right back to where we started, which is left to our own devices to try to understand the endless complexity and nuance of thousands of retail brands who don’t seem to care whether or not we feel beautiful.
And this is where I come in. I started this community to try to help us navigate this insanity and find a better way to work through it — together. So I’m going to continue digging into the nooks and crannies of these retail brands to figure out just how we ended up bearing this entire burden ourselves. I’m going to see if there are better solutions out there that we maybe haven’t found yet, or more information on the thousands of brands that might help us create a better solution ourselves.
But I need your help. I need you to join me on this journey so we can find the best solutions together. Because you and I both know that the power of women is exponentially increased when they have other women backing them up. So let’s start with hearing what you guys have found most valuable when trying to find a new brand that fits you well — do you ask around, find a new influencer, browse online? Let me know your strategy below.