Size Matters

I know you think I’ve dropped off the face of blogdom.  But I’ve merely been temporarily lost in the crush of pre-holiday shopping.  Now that Thanksgiving has become a retail day and every store is offering the deep discounts one used to see only AFTER December twenty-fifth, it’s a jungle out there.  I just returned from a couple of days in Manhattan and the stores and streets were so crowded you could pass out and not fall down.

Not that I need any clothes mind you, but it’s always fun to look and I have a particular pair of pants (black, of course) that I like and I thought I would pick up a second pair.  Since I know the size of the ones I already own you’d think it would be easy, but when shopping for a garment, any garment, one cannot assume the size you own is the size you’ll wear.  And this has nothing to do with holiday eating, (pass me those Christmas cookies).  It’s because the matter of size is simply that it doesn’t matter.  Not anymore anyway.

I remember my mother wore a size 10.  But she was a little woman and when I try on her cocktail dresses from the fifties and sixties, I can barely zip them up, and I’m a size 0 or 2!  Don’t take my word for it.  Check out any vintage store.  You’ll rarely see a 2 or a 4 in anything prior to 1970 unless it’s in the kiddie section and then the next size up will be 6X.  As our population has gotten larger, the sizes have gotten smaller.  Or larger, depending on how you look at it.  I can remember when a 2 didn’t even exist.  Maybe I’d wear a 3 from the Junior department, but a 2 in Misses?  Forget it.  Now there’s 0 and 00.  Why?   Because people are bigger and what used to be a 14 would now have to be a 32, and who is going to want to shop for a 32, particularly higher end shoppers who are paying a lot of money?  Retailers, and particularly designers, know this, so over the years they’ve gradually vanity-sized down their garments so that what once was a 12 is now a 4.  Besides, a single digit looks stylish on the label.  You think I’m making this up?  I haven’t even put the bourbon in my eggnog.

Here’s something I learned in the business when I was buying for a chain of stores.  Let’s say a certain retailer places an order with a vendor for a dress.  They might order one 2, four 6’s, four 8’s, 2 10’s, and so on, depending on the average size of their clientele.  But if the vendor doesn’t happen to have four 6’s on hand and wants to get the order out on time (there can be a penalty for shipping late) they’ll switch the label in say, a 10, and ship it as a 6.  Haven’t you ever looked through a sales rack and said, Holy cow, that dress says size 4 but it’s big enough to fit my Aunt Edna.  Wassup?  It’s gotten marked down because every time a size 4 comes along and tries it on, she looks like a circus tent with sleeves.

Same with items that are a set, like a swim suit or a jacket and pants.  That’s what happened to my friend, Teri, when she ordered a pair of pajamas on line.  The top was tiny and the bottom could have fit us both.  At the same time.

Which is why you can score some good bargains at the sales rack simply by holding the garment up and eyeballing the size, regardless of what the label says.  Take the time to try it on and if it doesn’t fit, try not to get hung up on the size printed on the label.  Because ultimately size doesn’t matter.




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2 responses to “Size Matters

  1. joodles

    Oh, now you burst my bubble about size. I just bought a pair of pants a size small than I usually wear…and I was congratulating myself. Here I thought I was dropping sizes without dietary restraint or movement of any kind! Damn.


  2. Annette Ullman

    had a good laugh with your latest blog–the crowds, the sizes, the photo–very funny.


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