Trendy Fashion Report: You May Not be as Fat as You Think – The Politics of Dress Sizes

Most women relish the thought of being able to finally squeeze into the size of their choice. The smaller the better of course, because that is proof that you are playing in the arena where the top dogs consistently dwell. To put it plainly, not only are we obsessed with staying forever young, but we also buy into the notion that anything above a size 2 is sacrilegious.


Well, the recent revelation concerning the chaotic nature of dress sizes may end your hunger strike for good. How many times have we tried on a frock and wondered if it was wrongly tagged. In fact most of us are downright convinced that folks in inventory must have allowed their long hours to force them to assign a size 6 label to a size 8 dress. The truth is that we can’t trust size tags anymore. It’s just that simple. The variables floating around make it nearly impossible to believe that what we are really buying into (no pun intended) actually exists.

Designers are admitting that they are succumbing to the pressure to please shoppers by rejecting the standardized scale. Gone are the days when you could gauge your weight based on whether or not your pants are tight or a little loose. It is all about making the customer happy, and these days most of them a little more meat on their bones. Research shows that women with mature physiques tend to have the resources needed to shop at high-end stores. This forces retailers to populate their boutiques with a healthy range of sizes in order to meet the needs of their very demanding shoppers. It also encourages their need to make the process less studious by implementing “convenient” alterations in an effort to sugar coat the truth.

But buyers are finding it challenging to maintain consistency especially since European sizes, which generally run smaller than their American counterparts, have become casually erratic over the past few years. The U.S. for the most part has perfected the art of accommodating larger sizes because it is functionally reasonable when you consider the scope of the market. But that system has always been in question due to the need to also satisfy the emotional fragility of customers who would rather think they are buying a size 8 skirt as opposed to an unthinkable 12.

It’s hard to imagine Italian and French designers who are notorious for churning out teeny tiny samples giving into the trapping of “vanity sizing”, but alas, the virus is rapidly spreading and consumers are happily indulging. Does it really matter that your pair of size 0 Lanvin trousers also fit your cousin perfectly, even though she typically wears a size 6 in America? Not if you don’t subscribe to the idea that you are what you wear.

Fashion houses have always operated from a fantastical standpoint, which ultimately lends itself to blatant oversights that are supposed to be for the benefit of their supporters. No matter how bamboozled we may feel or how confused we are about the sizing plan of our favorite designers, it’s comforting to know that we share the same stumbling blocks as Hollywood’s famed stylists, as they scramble to find a cohesive wardrobe for their high-profile clients who don’t want to be told that they are in fact better off with a size that they swore would never find a place on their racks. But real folks can deal with the turbulence. In fact we welcome it – after all, size is just a number. Right?