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Saturday, May 20, 2006 

One Size Does Not Fit All

There are standards of measurement around the globe. A kilometre in Canada is the same length as a kilometre in Greece. A litre of milk is the same size in Germany as it is in Greece. A kilo of cheese in France is the same size as a kilo of cheese in Greece. So, why is it that the clothing industry can't standardize their sizes? In North America, the size labels are pretty much standardized but in Europe, the size labels are huge since the size is listed with its equivalent in each country.

Every time I buy clothes, I can't rely on the size printed on the label. Sizes seem to be dependent upon many variables which only serves to triple the time I spend in stores choosing what to buy.

Manufacturing country
Often, if the label says "Made in China", extra large (XL) is really only a Small (S) in Greece. XXL in Greece is just Large (L) in Canada. When my parents sent my husband some t-shirts from Canada for the first time, they asked him his size so he said XXL. They sent him XXL. The t-shirts were big enough for the both of us to fit in at the same time!

Clothing brand
You'd think that brand names would have standard sizes in their stores but that's not the case. On Thursday, I bought 3 Small size t-shirts from Reebok for my son since the day earlier I had bought 3 Small size from Fila and they fit him perfectly. But when I got him to try them on, they were too small and I had to go back and exchange them for Medium. And even then all their Mediums were different sizes. It's so frustrating because I'm wasting too much time exchanging them.

Type of fabric used
Once I get the size narrowed down to just one or two, then I've got to look at the fabric. If it's 100% cotton, I will shrink it just a little when I put them in the dryer. Or if there's a bit of spandex in the fabric, then I don't need to buy a larger size since the material will stretch. Even the waste bands are important when deciding size. Elastic ones will stretch.

Men's and Women's clothing
I think companies who design clothes for women purposely misstate the size on the label so that women who are size 12 will be more apt to buy a dress if it says size 10 on the label. It's a psychological thing. And it works. What size 12 woman wouldn't love to have clothes with labels that say size 8 or 10? I think men don't really care about what the label says, so the manufacturers don't have a reason to lie about it when they print the size tags.

With all these things to consider before buying clothes, the only way to save time and avoid extra trips to exchange ill-fitting clothes, I have learned to do two things. I ignore the label sizes altogether and bring a tape measure with me to ensure they will fit the person when I give the clothes to them. But this means I have to always have updated measurements written down and I can't impulse buy. I suppose that's a good thing for my wallet.

The other way is to take the person I'm buying for with me. If it's my son, we'll be at each other's throats in the store. He'll accuse me of making him wear 'girl colours' which, right now, are anything other than navy blue, black or beige. Or he'll just be bored within 5 minutes, refuse to try on the clothes and that puts me back to square one. If it's my husband, we won't be able to walk out with less than 20 things because he hates shopping so he always wants to make it worth his while to go so he won't have to come back for another 6 months. Even though he rarely ever needs all the stuff he buys anyway. And that's definitely a bad thing for my wallet.

I suppose I could always learn how to sew and make clothes. Right. Just like I could learn how to make a Ferrari and build it. Who am I kidding?

Or I could stop buying clothes for my family and make them fend for themselves. But the world is not prepared for a 12 year old wearing pyjamas 24-7 or a 37 year-old wearing a linen suit to get his car washed.

There's a lot to be said for permanent body painting.
Imagine that.
No more shopping required and it really does fit all.

Oh, do I sympathize. I really, really sympathize. I HATE shopping for clothes for this exact reason. Hate it with a burning passion. The worst is when one size is too small and the next size up is too big. I also have a horrible, horrible time finding pants, because I'm short and they all have a good extra 6 inches of cloth hanging off of the bottom of each leg. It's enough to make me have a temper tantrum every time I walk into a store. You've definitely struck a nerve, here :)

I find that men's pants labels are incorrect here in Toronto. I have a size 28 wait (yes, I'm thin), and men's pants here start at 30. But I still try on different pants of size 30 because each will have a different fit on me. That fact, plus the fact that I can just tell that the waist is definitely NOT a 30 (too big) tells me the clothing manufacturers are lying about size. I suspect, as you suggested, it's because the manufacturers don't want the men to feel fat.

Like Emily, I find the pants to have legs that are just too damn long! Do the manufacturers think all men in Canada have a northern European background?? Some of us are from Mediterranean stock, and are not so tall.

I hate shopping for clothes.

I'm totally singing from the same song sheet as Kostas. There's nothing worse than shopping (unless it's for gadgets / CD's or DVD's of course).

There are a few ways to make things a lot easier though. For example, if I'm going out to buy a suit. I always go to this store that has a gay salesman. Why? Because it seems to built into the 'gayness' of this guy that he can not only tell me what looks good and what doesn't. He can pick out all the stuff I need sizewise from just glancing at me. It's never failed yet. I can be in and out of there in 10 minutes flat!




I hated the fact that while living in Ialy I wore size XXL. I felt like a whale every time I looked at a label.
My huband who was a size 52 in Italy was now reduced to a size 40. Seems like an instant diet plan to change continents.

I'm lucky that I have always had my mother-in-law with me when clothes shopping or have her buy me clothes, because somehow, amazingly, she picks out the right size always and knows exactly what I like!

She can even buy me shoes without my presence, because we are the same shoe size.

So basically, I've never even paid much attention to size labels in Greece - I took a look once and was like, "huh???" and gave up.

emily...What's worse is finally figuring out what your size is and the clerk tells you "oh sorry, we have nothing left in that size". &^%$$£"!!! LOL

franje...Is it really SO very hard for them to just have a standard set specifications regarding length, waist, inseam for the most common fabrics? I think it's even more difficult for women who also have to worry about the size of their posteriors, breasts and mid-sections. Once you factor in those variables, the mathematical size permutations are infinite.

ellas...Gay salesmen don't help me one little bit when shopping for clothes for my husband for the simple reason he doesn't want to be a fashion icon and only wants to replace all his worn out clothing with exact replicas. AND like my son, he believes the only respectable colours for men's clothes are navy blue, white, beige, brown, and black. LOL

j.doe...hahahaha! My friend who just returned from the States said the same thing! She bought so many clothes just so she could have size 10 labels hanging in her closet!

mel...you are so lucky that your mother-in-law can pick out clothes and shoes that you like without you even having to be there. My M-I-L did that once and I ended up looking like one of the Golden Girls. LOL Never again.

I agree with you they could make the sizes a bit more consistent. However this is not totally possible. The design of each t-shirt as an example varies significantly, length, width, length of sleeve, width of sleeve, material, elasticity, etc. Each person has a different body, it's not that their proportions are the same.

This is why I always try my clothes, I never order clothes online and if someone ever buys me clothes as a present it's pretty much guaranteed it will be wasted.

I know other people don't even bother trying their clothes, but still sizes cannot be perfect for the reasons I described above.

Generally however, American brands clothes are bigger than European brands on average.

Womens clothing is the amalgamation of the Rubik's Cube, Gordion Knot, the immovable object vs. the unstoppable force, The Enigma code, the Navajo Code Talkers' language, etc.

Mortal men cannot comprehend it.

Hera makes Zues try to understand it every time he commits adultry. Even gods are humbled.

The answer is 42 is actually the most sophisticated inside joke ever.

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