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Why Are Clothing Sizes So Inconsistent? – Cheddar Examines

Why Are Clothing Sizes So Inconsistent? – Cheddar Examines


[MUSIC] We heard that the measurements of jean waists aren’t always accurate. Some brands can be tighter than others. But if waist size is based on inches, how can a 33-inch in one brand be tighter than all the others? Here we have 10 pairs of jeans, all with the same size label. We’re gonna measure them and see just how big their waists really are and hopefully, reveal the reason why some are bigger than others. Before we get into these, click “Subscribe”. You’re already here. So here’s the test. We got 10 pairs of jeans, five pairs of women’s and five pairs of men’s, each in the same size. The men’s were 33 inch waist. Done. [NOISE] We measure their waists with a piece of ribbon which we then laid out on the ground and actually measured. None of the men’s jeans actually measured 33 inches. The women’s were all supposed to be a 24, but none of them were the labeled size either. Let’s rewind. Clothing sizes didn’t really become a thing until World War I, when people wanted trendy new clothes, but didn’t have the money to have them custom-made to their bodies. Records of clothing sizes have been around since the Revolutionary War as a way to give soldiers uniforms that fit. By the War of 1812, the US Army had stocks of ready-made uniforms sized around one measurement, the chest. Clothing companies said, “Hey, why don’t we do women’s size in the same way?” But basing universal women’s sizing on the size of their chest is not the most accurate way of doing it. So companies abandoned regulated sizing for women until 1958, when the National Institute of Standards and Technology announced women’s sizes would be represented by even numbers from 8 to 38. These random numbers were chosen because women hated telling store clerks their measurements, like men did, according to Time Magazine. But that too was quickly thrown out in favor of chaos. In 1958, a size 8 was this big. In 2008, a size 8 has increased by five to six inches. Since 1960, the weight of the average American has increased 30 pounds. For example, people love to say that Marilyn Monroe was a size 8, but that was actually the smallest size available in her day. So it’s pretty clear, sizing has gotten bigger. We looked at a couple of studies to see if we can figure it out. Academics have coined the term vanity sizing to describe the practice of using smaller size labels on clothes that are actually bigger. It’s a psychological trick meant to flatter the consumer, and it really works. It’s because of something called positive, self-related imagery. Basically, when a customer sees themselves in a smaller size, a 28 as compared to a 30, they think about themselves more positively. That makes them significantly more likely to buy the product if they feel good about themselves while wearing it. It actually makes so much of a difference that companies that don’t do it can be left behind. A really interesting thing I came across while reading up on this is that all these studies were done on women. Men sizes weren’t even looked at. The researchers justified it by saying that women were more susceptible to self-esteem issues around size. One professor went so far as to say that vanity sizing didn’t exist for men because they didn’t have the same self-esteem issues. Of course, our test proves that wrong, but we’re not academics. And when we asked men around the office if they had ever experienced wonky sizing, they said yes, and that it did end up affecting what they ended up purchasing.

100 comments

I'm not sure this is a case where government regulation is necessary. They tend to mess things up pretty frequently.

As a small man, this sort of thing is a massive pain. I have XS shirts that are about the same size as other brands mediums, which makes finding clothes that don't drown me really hard.

Sometimes, XL shirts fit me perfectly. But then I move to another brand and I can barely use a XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXL. It's ridiculous, standardize this thing.

This problem is the exact reason clothes stores aren't closing and I'm not buying pants online. I have NO CLUE what size will actually fit me.

Vanity sizing is a thing for men, albeit the other way around. Underwear typically goes from M to XXL with no S let alone XS to be found. Where's the logic in that?

Wow, this vanity sizing is totally working on me. I guess, I have some work to do when it comes to my self-esteem 😀

That's an understatement. Jeans and shirts just to name two are terrible. The great disadvantage of buying online.

23.75" is essentially 24", and may have actually been (given the imprecision of measuring cloth in the real world). I think you're being misleading by saying the women's Levi jeans weren't as listed.

What about online shopping? Don't companies lose money when they offer free returns because their stupid product doesn't match the size they lied about?
Also, I'm fatter than I think I am?!!! #unsurprisedpikachuface

I hate vanity sizing. Picking clothes would be much easier. Instead of wonering how can 34 pants be too toght in one store and too large in another. It is wasting our time.

In Brazil it's worse, because not only 99% of clothes comes with descriptive sizes (small, medium, large, etc) that already causes a lot of judgement and insecurity (nobody likes to be labeled extra large), the sizes are completely inconsistent. I remember going to a store and their largest size was smaller than the tshirt I was wearing, labeled as medium. It was not a good experience

I wear shorts more than jeans. I find that on dickies the waist is the right size, but right below the waistline, it's a lot tighter. This makes it a lot harder to take anything out of my pocket forcing me to use both of my hands to get anything out of them.

Thank you!! Yours is the first article I've heard or read that actually mentions "vanity sizing". I read about this concept around 20 years ago, but most people just refuse to recognize this exists. It would be great if brands stopped catering to this ideal and accepted a regulated system of sizing, and people learned to quit fooling themselves about the size they wear. I wear everything from an extra large to a 3X because of this concept, and I hate trying on clothes, though it's not all the fault of the sizing issue. For me it's an easy fix as I can and do sew my own clothes or can alter things. For other people it's a serious problem.

They shouldn't even have "medium" etc. They should just have the actual measurements on the label. It's condescending that they think people wouldn't be able to remember a couple ballpark numbers.

I don't really get the problem. When I go shopping for clothes I look for products that fit my stile and afterwards take a few samples around my size to get the right fit… I'm certain I'm having many clothes that are differently size-labeled but all fit me perfectly fine. I've never thought about not buying something that I liked just because the number on the size label was too high.
It's mind boggling to me that people have become this fragile.

Most of the time I like to buy large size shirts because of the roomier feel. But some mediums fit really good too. But I’ve gotten a medium that fit like a small at TJ Maxx and I’ve gotten a medium that fit like a large at Walmart.

They will all shoot themselves in the foot, with more people shopping online there are probably more clothes returned then kept due to not being true to size.

Men (at least I, for sure), don't give a F about some label or others' perception. Maybe if anything, men don't wanna be closer to an S-size in anything, more like L to feel more masculine.
Men don't wanna be twigs with labels implying they are. Women the other way around.
If I can't find something in a store after having tried on the size it's supposed to be, and the next closest in a second run, it's just purely frustrating and I'll just go to another store right away (and never come back to this one). I guess women don't mind trying on shit for hours on end as it's a pastime – shopping. Most men can't be bothered, and stores should need to work harder to keep them coming back.
I'm surprised that with eCommerce having spread so much, the industry didn't switch to a standard to appeal to people who'd then buy more from home (and they do – it's convenient – if it wasn't for the complete lack of trust in the size, buying without trying on)

Once they realize its killing the online retail – since you can't order something based on the size, they'll realize a consistent size will help sell more then vanity sizes..

As a Professor of Fashion in Canada, I advise my students that, before they go shopping, to take their own male or female appropriate size measurements at home and then visit the size charts and measurements for their favourite retailers online to accurately see how their size is larger or smaller depending on the Brand.

Can these companies please put out the actual size and stop wasting our time. This is why you won't get online shopping from men buying clothes. Because they are filled with this type of shit. We just want to go in and get out.

Disagree with vanity sizing.

As a male my “waist” or what women consider a waist is 32”. My pants measure about 35”. Clothing companies give their clothes some give so that they sit lower on your hips, conform to your movements and don’t sinch up when you sit down.

Women’s sizing is horrific compared to men’s sizing though. Size 0 starts at a 25 (iirc) and each size up is equal to a half inch in size. That’s real vanity sizing. There’s no reason why women have to be conscious about wearing a size 6 or 8 when that’s a 29” waist, because on a man that’s skinny as foretold(af). But as far as men understanding women’s clothing size, all women are capable of hitting a size 2-6 if they try hard enough (or worked out more) and it’s just not even true.

Cheddar is good but maybe instead of just drawing conclusions in a vacuum, you should talk to a clothing manufacturer like Levi’s.

What people don't realize is thhat not having standard sizing can be pretty good. With this, people of all idfferent shapes and sizes can find clothes that fit perfectly. For example, a perfect medium would only fit a fraction of people.

Contrarily, the more annoyed a shop is by wasting my time – especially if I need to pay for shipping, wait for the item, and then pay again to reorder online – the seller can go fuck itself.

Since you asked for a story – as a long time size 12, I once tried on a dress in H&M in size 12 but had to keep bringing in larger sizes until I reached 18 which was tiny. I asked the clerks if they had any larger sizes and they just gave me the stink eye.

3:47 – Pft! Seinfeld changed the tags on his jeans to pretends he's a 31 instead of a 32. youtu.be/2ZNKRbYaZsw
4:15 – That's fine and well normally, but what about swimming or sexy-time? 🤨 I'd rather be actually fit than just look it which would only demotivate me from getting in shape. ¬_¬
4:24 – How is it legal? That's abusing a person's medical (mental health) condition. What's next, taking advantage of the blind?😒

No study in mans clothing?
Thats some fucking WOMEN PATRIARCHY!!! Right here!
Its time for men to stand up and fight against this!

Screw the size…Wear what fits…I have two pair of Jeans both are 40". One needs a belt. 😀 The Uniforms that I wear the rest of the time are all 40" but two are from a different company…they are my "fat jeans". 😀

Im either a 38" waist or a FORTY FOUR!! depends on store, brand and type of trouser/pant.

And yes, the 44" ALWAYS get launched onto the dressing room floor

Yeah one time I got this shirt and it said it was a certain size but actually it was a different size. Yep, it's just another day in the life of a man staring down the barrel of a loaded rigged system. #YangGang

I wear a size 31, and two of my pairs of jeans that are 31s fight perfectly but I was given two pairs of 32s a few months ago and both of them are like one to two inches too tight. but my old pair of 31s fit just fine. This means those 32s were made smaller then the 31s.

I agree. The clothes I wore in high school no longer fit me 30 years later. Must be from companies redoing they're sizing labels.

it's the stupid stores that run 1-3 sizes smaller that really make you question yourself. or when stores start to make their clothes smaller so you get on the scale because you question your sanity. usually it's not you- it's the clothes.

Vanity sizing is a myth! Women’s apparel (American) is sized by body mass. You have : Jr fit (that is odd numbered )that is made for the smaller framed youth. Contemporary fit (00-10) that is basically the same cut as the JR fit ,but not for teens. Modern fit ( 0-12) that is fuller in the bust and hips. Missy fit (2-14) that is fuller in the bust,hips and waist. The missy fit is the American standard size. Traditional fit (6-18) that is even more fuller in bust,hips, and waist. The Traditional fit is more for mature customers. Finally -you have plus sizing. The same goes for men’s sizing – just in contemporary ,modern ,and traditional. The best way to find the best fit for clothing is to go to professional sales person to help you. And honestly -you should’ve gotten advise from a professional instead just googling your research for this video.

I think it is good enough now. This chaotic situation clearly reflects the real state of the human psyche as what it is.

And then there are european clothing companies like zara, primark, super dry etc who's clothes run far too small as if they believe we American are short and thin twigs, idk how thats supposed to help them.

When I order Japanese or Italian clothes I have to order a larger size than in the US.

And I always have to try shoes on. Sometimes the same size shoes fit different for the same brand of shoes.

This video fails to answer the basic question posed by its own title. This channel does this repeatedly. Why?

Some jeans are bigger than others,
some jeans are bigger than others,
some jeans brands are bigger than other jean brands…

My mother always loved to buy Levi's jeans when she traveled to America because of the wide options of leg and waist sizes and fits.

When I was on exchange in Macau, my parents went from Brazil to visit me. Just in front of our hotel in Hong Kong, there was a Levi's store on sale.

Unfortunately, there wasn't one single piece of clothing that fitted her pretty average 50yo Brazilian woman body. She felt pretty bad.

This may change as people increasingly order their clothes online at sites like Amazon. It'll be difficult to gauge fit prepurchase otherwise, and those return costs will add up.

If I'm ordering jeans I like, I literally order multiple sizes. I'm usually a 32 but I make sure I order everything in the 30-34 and return the ones that don't fit. Let the company bear the cost of restocking and reshipping due to their shitty practice.

if there was standard sizes it would help big time instead of having to waste our time in change rooms. From Bangladesh, India or China people would hate it. A north american 2xl is an asian 5XL

J crew is the WORST with this. I own a double zero top of theirs that’s a bit big, wear a zero or 2 in their dresses, and wear an 8 in their pants?????? For reference i’m usually a 4/6

1:05
"we got all 24 inch jeans"

"22.5 in 26 in"

and this is why i never buy jeans online :)))

Vanity Sizing doesn't exsist where I live. it is the opposite. Try find something that isn't Chinese size 🙁 Which on average is 2 to 3 sizes smaller than the typical South African size, which as far as I know used to be accurate to the sizing it was labled with. Which leads to a BIG problem.

I'm on the edge of 'normal' clothing which now now has become mostly Chinese sizing. The clothes for bigger people are all South African sizes. So what happens? I either can't get into most of it, or I look like I'm wearing a tent 🙁 It is so frustrating.

Compounded by the fact I can't wear certain fabrics or that in some cases there is not enough cloth to cover you or it is so thin that you can see strait through it.

So … there was that time I discovered "skinny" fit jeans meant no-calf-muscle, after I had managed to get them on in the change room. It took 5 minutes of struggling to get them off and that's when I saw the skinny-fit label. Obviously, it had been dropped on the regular jeans pile. I also have had too many jeans that barely fitted after I thought I had the right size, so now I buy big and just tighten up the belt.

Tip – use your 'fingers and hand' to measure your clothes first.
That's what l do when I go shopping, and I save many time before went the 'dress room' to try the clothes.

I've been going to the same store to buy jeans for a few years. My measurements didn't change, but I went from a size 8 to a size 14 within the time I had been shopping therr

This shit should be banned, just accept the fact that your body is x thick and y long. Nobody should be shamed for their size.

The main reason; Vanity! People are too obsessed with how they look and are perceived by others! People don't want to be told (and accept) that they have gotten bigger, they'd rather be lied to and lie to themselves, serving their vanity and protecting their fragile egos.

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I grew up in a country where I didn't have to try cloths or shoes on regardless of brand or type. I always wondered why sizes weren't the same in the US. This is what happens when the powerful is not regulated-they fuckup with your mind

Jeans shopping would make me so self conscious when I was 15. It would really kick me in the self esteem. It took me years to realize no brand is going to be the same size. Even tshirts- sometimes large shirts are tight and others even extra small too baggy :/

Fashions a joke I don't want to wear anything man I'm a Native American I want to go back to where in my natural clothes is said this bullshit stinky poison remanufactured of 1960s clothes China's barf bag over my ass your clothes are so contaminated before you even put them on close of manufacturing them have polluted the world most of clothes you have are not made by new material their remanufacturing the old do not give anything to Goodwill do not donate nothing throw it away the billionaires and it's a private owned company not a charity you go get no jobs you ain't going to get shit the giving your money to China so they can kill us all

I don't want to buy clothes online because in China I'm a 4xl in a department store I'm 2xl and at Walmart I'm Large or XL once at Walmart I got into a medium. You can bet I I baught that shirt haha.

I was looking for size 4 jeans, and when I put them on, it was more like an 8. I guess it's so big chicks can tell their friend they're a size 4. Lol

Once I find a brand that fits, I stick with it. I love Old Navy and Goodwill. Just any store that allows you to try clothing on.

I think something that should’ve been considered here as well is that retailers probably do this so customers can try out clothes making it more likely that they buy and spend more time at the stores and buy more than just pants!

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