Finding Clothes That Fit and Flatter
How to make sense of sizes
You've worked hard dieting and exercising, and you've finally lost those 10
(or 20, or 50, or more) pounds. Now you just can't wait to buy some new clothes
to show off your fitter figure.
But one trip to the mall, and you might start wishing for your old body
back. The reason? No matter what you try on, nothing seems to fit! The slacks
that fit your waist are too snug in the hips. The size 10 you used to wear
swallows you in one store, and is tight in another. And trying to decipher the
different sizing systems -- missy, juniors, women's -- sets your head
But before you give up and go back to your oversized sweats, read on for
some advice from experts in the clothing industry on how to make sense of
We'll start with some good news: It's not your body that's to blame.
One problem with today's clothing sizes is that as a nation, our basic shape
has been gradually changing. Yet much of the clothing industry hasn't yet
recognized that fact. At least, that's the conclusion of SizeUSA, a research
project from textile company [TC]2 that recently set out to
determine today's true American size standards.
"We heard a lot of complaints from consumers about not being able to
find clothes that fit them, which is what led us to develop this project,"
which was jointly sponsored by manufacturers and the U.S. Commerce Department,
says SizeUSA director Jim Lovejoy.
Using a specially designed body scanner, the company took electronic
measurements of some 10,000 American men and women in a range of ages, races,
sizes, and locales. These measurements were used to create a mathematical model
of today's "average" body. Not surprisingly, says Lovejoy, it's not
exactly the shape the fashion industry has been using to create our
"Clothes made today are based on the hourglass shape for both men and
women," he says. "We found men are now leaning more towards what we
call the inverted triangular shape, their shoulders wider than their hips,
while women are going the other way, pear-shaped, with hips wider than
So if trying to put your "pear" body into an
"hourglass"-shaped designer garment feels a lot like putting the square
peg in the round hole, you're not alone.
Still, don't expect your local mall to be full of better-fitting clothing
right away. While Lovejoy hopes the new report will eventually change the way
all clothing is sized, he says it will likely take some time before
manufacturers make major changes.
Deciphering Vanity Sizing
A label game known as "vanity sizing" can make finding the right
size even more difficult.
"Some designers try to make customers feel good by putting a size 4
label on a size 8 garment, or a size 10 on a size 14, which is why in certain
lines you seem to take a much smaller size than you do in others," says
George Simonton, a professor of fashion design at New York's Fashion Institute