I just read this post from Floridaborne over at Two on a Rant. The post was titled “When size no longer matters.” It reminded me of something I posted on my old blog about five years ago. That post was triggered by this meme that I saw on the internet.Size 0? Wait. Zero means nothing, naught, zip, zilch. Zero gravity means no gravity, weightlessness. So does size zero mean no size, sizelessness? How how can any article of clothing be size 0?
So I did what I do whenever I come across something that doesn’t make any sense to me. I Googled it. And I found a Wikipedia article, which explained that:
“Size zero, or 0, is a women’s clothing size in the US catalog sizes system. Sizes 0 and 00 were invented due to the changing of clothing sizes over time, which has caused the adoption of lower numbers. Size zero often refers to extremely thin women and adolescent girls, or trends associated with them.”
Seriously, there is a women’s clothing size 00? Is that twice as small as size 0?
Men’s clothing sizes are straightforward. When a man buys a shirt, the size is based upon neck size and arm length. Size 16/34 means a 16″ neck and 34″ sleeve. It’s understandable, logical, and consistent. A 16/34 shirt is the same size no matter what brand of shirt it is. I find that comforting.
The same logical approach applies for men’s pants. A 36″ waist and a 32″ inseam is reasonably called size 36/32. If a man wears a size 40 suit, that simply means he measures 40″ around the chest (as measured under the arms). What could be more simple and straightforward?
Contrast that with how women’s clothing is sized. What exactly is a size 6? Is a size 12 dress twice as large as a size 6 dress?
As I understand it, a size 6 in one brand might fit like a size 4 or a size 8 in another brand, thus requiring the need for women to try things on before buying. I hate that.
And why are women’s clothing sizes expressed only in even numbers. That’s odd.
Which brings me back to size 0. In my extensive research for this post, I learned that even among women there is a misunderstanding of what size 0 is.
Due to the current hype about super-slim actresses and models and a public awareness of eating disorders, it’s often incorrectly assumed that size 0 was invented to fit a new class of excessively thin women.
But that’s not really the case. Size 0 is actually what is known as “vanity sizing,” which is the practice of labeling clothes with a lower size than their measurements would traditionally indicate in order to appeal to a woman’s vanity.
In another Wikipedia article about how women’s clothing is sized, I found this:
“US standard clothing sizes were developed from statistical data in the 1940s-1950s. However, as a result of various cultural pressures, most notably vanity sizing, North American clothing sizes have drifted substantially away from this standard over time, and now have very little connection to it.
“Instead, they now follow the more loosely defined standards known as US catalog sizes. These are on average 6 sizes smaller than the original standard. So, for example, a size 12 on the old standard would today be described as a size 6, while a size 6 on the old scale would be what is today known as size zero.”
So the size labels for women’s clothing not only have no logical, real-world measurement basis, they’ve changed over time, while still maintaining their relative meaninglessness.
And just as I thought I was beginning to get the hang of it, another wrinkle appeared. Women’s clothing comes in different categories of sizes, such as “misses,” “petites,” “juniors” and “women’s.” Thus, the same size designation in one category may be different from the that same size in another category. Whoa!
I think that women simply don’t want men to know what size they are, so they have a secret language that men will not understand for coming up with virtually meaningless, indecipherable, and, to me, highly confusing size designations.
The good news, though, is that this gives me a great excuse for never buying clothes for a woman.
P.S. Why do women’s shirts have their buttons on the left side, while men’s shirts have their buttons on the right side? Is there a purpose?