I decided to do some spring cleaning the other day (I know it’s technically the end of summer, don’t @ me, at least I’m doing it) and as I was going through my clothes I started to notice something. I mean other than the sheer volume of black leggings I own that are each 100% necessary to my wardrobe and absolutely not to be thrown away. In case anyone’s wondering what that number is, btw, it’s 22 #noshameinmylegginggame
But the thing that I really took note of was that the number of different sizes represented in my wardrobe was staggeringly larger than what I would have guessed.
Based on my years of shopping (and returning) experience, I’ve learned that the clothes I wear generally vary between 2-3 numerical sizes and 1-2 letter sizes.
That day’s spring cleaning activities actually told me a very different story. While my sizing assumptions may have been true overall, perhaps as an ‘average’, my closet was telling me that the actual variation was much more significant than I realized. Not only do I have garments that range between at least FIVE different numerical sizes, I also have clothes that fall literally anywhere on the basic letter-size scale — how is that possible??
“Not only do I have garments that range between at least FIVE different numerical sizes, I also have clothes that fall literally anywhere on the basic letter-size scale — how is that possible??”
Now, first of all, let me call out that I am incredibly privileged to wear a size (or a collection of sizes I should say, right? Because wtf.) that is lovingly in the ‘standard’ size range for retailers. While sure, sometimes I think I could stand to lose a few pounds, I can still comfortably walk into just about any store and walk out with clothing that was technically meant for someone with my body.
So my question is: if someone like me can wear legit any size between an XS and L depending on the garment or brand, how on earth is anyone even slightly outside of this ‘standard’ size range supposed to have a decent wardrobe?!
Now before you start trying to find excuses to justify this absurdity, let me make a few clarifications — no, the range of sizes doesn’t mean some of my clothes are actually large kid’s sizes or small men’s clothes (nice try, though), and yes some of the variation has to do with the difference between my top half and my bottom half.
So given all this, how is an actual NORMAL woman supposed to be able to navigate the thousands of brands out there to pull together a collection of clothes that not only technically fit her body but actually make her feel beautiful?
She can’t. That’s the answer.
I’m one of the privileged few who can (although Instagram would have you believe that people skinnier than me are literally all that exist). Yet even I still felt pangs of self-consciousness going through my closet, realizing that I actually *wanted* to keep the cute shorts that were technically three sizes outside of what I deemed my ‘normal’ range. Maybe if I close my eyes and cut out the tag? Then no one would ever know.
This is just another example of how the retail industry has set women up to fail — and we’ve let them. Honestly I’ve been complicit along with all the rest of you. I’ve narrowed my focus down to a few brands that I know look good on me, especially in times when I might have been carrying a little more weight than I’d like. I’ve avoided buying new jeans. I’ve even given away clothes that were bigger sizes because I didn’t want evidence in my closet that I was bigger than I believed myself to be in my own head. I’m ashamed that I felt this way (and honestly still have pangs of feeling this way, we’re not all perfect), but I finally realized that pretending wasn’t doing me any good.
So I went back through my closet a second time (I know, I’m exhausted), and did my best to actually try on the clothes I was unsure about, but this time WITHOUT LOOKING at the size. It was an interesting exercise, and it took a lot more willpower than I expected. But the result? I’m happy with how I look and feel in the clothes that I decided to keep, and I’m honestly not 100% sure what range of sizes my closet holds at the moment (but $100 bucks says it’s roughly the same as it was before. Any takers??). So maybe we should all try thinking more about how we feel in the clothes as human beings rather than how we feel about the size on the label inside the clothes. Want to try it with me? We’re in this together.