Finding Clothes That Fit and Flatter
How to make sense of sizes
Deciphering Vanity Sizing continued...
Unless you're onto the game, says Simonton, you could end up frustrated as
you spend hours hauling armfuls of the wrong-size garments into the dressing
Even more frustrating is when a designer or retailer uses standard
measurements to make their garments, then translates those numbers differently
when converting to the popular "letter sizing" -- S, M, L, XL, 1X, 2X,
3X -- a sizing concept that has no universal standards.
A recent Lane Bryant catalog, for example, shows a 1X T-shirt as equal to a
size 22-24 (bust 46-49 1/2 inches) while in the Spiegel catalog, a 1X T-shirt
equals a size 14-16 (bust 42-44 inches). Hop over to Newport News, and a 1X
T-shirt equals a 14-16 -- which that company says fits a 43- to 45-inch
The answer, says Simonton, is to forget what the size tag says and just go
for the fit. If you're buying something you can't try on, take accurate body
measurements and consult the company's size chart.
"You can't assume that because you're a large in one line, that all
larges, or all 14s for that matter, are going to fit you -- that's just the way
it is today, " Simonton tells WebMD.
Still another problem is getting a good fit in garments containing spandex.
The initial idea was to add this stretchy material to make clothes fit more
comfortably. But instead, designers often use it as a way to make clothes
smaller while still meeting size requirements. The end result: You may get the
item on, but it's going to fit like a second skin.
"Depending on the manufacturer, you may have to go up several sizes if
you want a spandex garment to have a relatively normal fit," says
Misses, Juniors, Women's ... Oh, My!
Further complicating the quest for a perfect fit, there are four different
size ranges for women's clothing in the U.S. Here's a primer on the basic
- Missy sizes (even sizes, generally 2-18). If your figure is
"average" -- no one part of your body (particularly your arms, upper
back, or bust line) is out of proportion to the rest of you, your waist is
neither high nor low, and your torso is "average," try a
- Junior sizes (odd sizes, often 0-13). Whether you're 17 or 47, if
your arms are slim, your bottom narrow and your bust high (or if you simply
like your clothes to fit close to the body), you're a "junior"
- Women's sizes (such as 16W-32W). If you have a fuller, lower
bustline and extra weight in the upper arms and upper back, a "women's"
size may fit best. A 16W or 18W has broader fit through the top than a missy 16
or 18, and the overall cut is different. Half sizes were once a popular
subdivision of the missy category (starting at 12 1/2 and going up to 22 1/2).
But this fit has been replaced by women's sizing, with 16W being equal to the
old 16 1/2, and so on.
- Petite sizes (such as 2P-32WP). Technically, petite clothing is
women's or missy sizes proportioned for women 4'11" to 5'3" tall (with
shorter arm, leg, and overall garment length). It's usually cut smaller across
the back as well. So if you are over 5'3" but have either very short arms,
or a long torso and short legs, some petite separates might work for you.
Then, of course, there's "one size fits all." The general
consensus here: "It doesn't exist." Unless you don't care if your
clothes are smotheringly tight or tent-like, chances are you won't find the fit
you're looking for with these garments -- no matter how much spandex they