now browsing by month
Ladies (and possibly gentlemen?), there has been much demand for a well-researched discourse on vanity sizing. I did some cursory Googling on the subject and read up on Wikipedia, so naturally I am now an expert.* My thoughts and feelings follow.
Vanity sizing. Essentially, it’s the reason I have a top from Glassons circa 1998 that is a size 10, yet tops I buy from Glassons in the present-day are a size 6. I hasten to add, I have only increased in size since I was a wee Megan, so clearly some crazy shenanigans are going on. But WHY?**
I have two theories:
- the clothing manufacturing industry knows that the media has told us that being bigger is badder, and is trying to make us buy more clothes by assuming that we’ll say “hooray! I am only a size 10 when my entire life I thought I was a 12. I shall now buy 17 items instead of just the plain black tshirt I came in to get”; or
- it’s an accident. We are plainly getting bigger and bigger: see Elizabethan homes for hilarious midget-height doorframes. See also: increased seat sizes on modern aircraft. It stands to reason that fit models (the lovely ladies
they measure the clothes on in the workrooms) are also getting bigger. Since sizing isn’t standardized under weights and measures legislation, it gets all crazy and out of whack as manufacturers try to adjust for the times.
Cynical Megan thinks it is number (1). However, how FRICKING annoying is it when you go into a store and pick up your size, think to yourself “meh, who can be bothered with trying things on? I will just assume that I haven’t gained or lost weight in the past fortnight since I last impulse purchased a dress here”, and then get home and realise you could in fact also make a hat from the leftover fabric in the item you just bought/don’t think you can wear that dress because technically it has cut off the circulation below your waist? Very annoying, is how annoying it is. In fact, so annoying that it actually acts as a barrier to the impulse shopping that they so badly want us to engage in. Sometimes I don’t have half an hour to faff about trying to find my size in things!
Maybe it’s (2). Maybe the poor clothing manufacturer people just keep making weird mistakes that oddly only make us think we are getting smaller? Kathleen Fasanella (a pattern maker) states that vanity sizing is a myth, here. It’s a good piece and I recommend you read it. Amongst other seemingly excellent points she states:
“It’s best to understand the nature of sizing before we go crazy and adopt national sizing standards. People are so different from one another that it is an unreasonable expectation that our clothes should be sized uniformly. The day that we should only have one size “medium” across all manufacturers is also the day we should only need an identical dose of an identical medicine for an identical medical problem. Humans are unique.”
She then gives the example of Western wear versus tutus. A person in the middle of the range of lady cowboys will most likely be larger than a middle of the range ballerina lady, so the medium (representing the middle) will be larger in the chaps and fancy Western shirts than it is in tutus. Makes sense I guess. Although, I don’t see why this is an argument for not standardising sizing. This just means that tutus in size M would be too small for mid-range cowgirls. Big deal? I’d be interested in your thoughts below, because I am pretty sure this will give rise to some Feelings about how our body image is manipulated via size tags and the media.
She also makes some good points as follows:
“A medium to a manufacturer is a reference calculation of needed fabric purchases. Since the medium represents -statistically speaking- their average customer based on sales, the quantities of fabrics ordered are based on multiples of those measures … For this reason alone a manufacturer will not want to change the sizing of their medium because it directly impacts utilization of all their other sizes…”
- and -
“Another thing people drag out as evidence of vanity sizing is the “inflation” of sizing numbers, that because what’s known now as a size 4 was formerly designated as a size 16 (pre 1960’s) that this is proof of size inflation but that’s not true either. The reason is that old sizes were based on -yet another- arcane principle related to pattern making and sizes were designated based on something known as “scale”.”
So, I basically am feeling her points and goodness knows I don’t work in the industry and so can’t really put together a reasoned argument to rebut this. However, I do have some unanswered questions:
- why on earth do sizes from the SAME company keep going down and down and down? Surely their customer base doesn’t change that much – is this purely an economics situation?
- why can’t they even get it right from one item to the next – items that are in the same store at the same time? I appreciate there are fluctuations caused by issues with changes in fit models or by new styles being rolled out…but really?
- And finally, how is it possible that things have evolved so radically in the past 13 years that a size 6 is too large for me (largely because I am on the petite side in the bust region) when I used to be a size 10?
I remain unsatisfied and suspicious. My research continues and, in what must be the most exciting news of your life, I will continue to post very short updates on what I find out.
*not at all an expert. Obviously.
**yep, 13 years later it’s still going strong. In fairness, I think it’s 99% plastic and that stuff takes 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years to decompose.
I put the word out on Facebook that I needed a blog topic, and the suggestions rolled in. After
strenuously analysing the answers choosing the one that would allow me to play on Polyvore the most, I announced the “print mixing is good timez” topic was a winner.
Disclaimer time: I am not a stylist. You might read the following and think
I am blind and lack taste. That’s fine – these are just suggestions. Mixing prints in the way I suggest below is not for everyone.
The easiest way to mix prints is illustrated in my Polyvore set below:
The prints are all within one colour palette (in particular the black and white prints) and the total number of colours is just three. Stripes and dots are the easiest prints to mix – in fact it’s barely print-mixing since these go together like black and white.
The lovely Rachel sent me a few pics of prints that she already owned as inspiration for print-mixing advice. The clear winner among these items was these pants:
They’re yellow plaid, incorporating black, white and red stripes.
I found the same pair on Polyvore and threw in some suggested tops, bags and so on:
Option One is the “corporate plaid pants” option. Or “first date” option, since I couldn’t get away with these pants at work (saaaaaad…). Anyway, a structured top and bag that match but borrow some of the colours from the plaid, and plain black bangles to have at least one common theme, and Bob’s your uncle.
Option Two is the “it’s cold outside but my pants are hot” option. The jersey doesn’t match and doesn’t really attempt to. Sometimes this is actually easier than making two prints “match”. I’ve used the blue patterned scarf because there’s blue in the jersey, and then insisted on a yellow bag to balance out the pants. If I had the power to change the shoes, they would also be blue, and possibly suede booties. In this case it’s the accessories that make the outfit work.
Finally, we have Option Three or the “cocktails at the Country Club” option at brightness level 5,000,000,000. You would need to be a brave princess to wear this one. Again, I rampantly ignored matchyness, although I did choose this top because of the red element in both the top and the plaid. This uses a similar approach as mixing block colours with prints (always find the colour in the print that occurs the least often, and wear that colour as your block). I would put this model in red or pink shoes.
In short, when print-mixing you need to be ready to WEAR it and LOVE it and OWN it. Do as they do at Prada:
So. During last week I tweeted that World was collaborating with Number One Shoe Warehouse:
Yes, that is a screenshot from my iPhone, I am a dickhead.
ANYWHOOZLE, as you can see I have previously had my heart broken my designer/chain store collaborations. Saben is a wonderful brand that makes gorgeous handbags. I only had one problem with their Warehouse collaboration: shit quality. I mean, I know I’m not going to get handtooled leather bathed in the tears of virgins for $59.95, but the materials were really terrible. The bags looked incredibly cheap. Against my better judgment (and keeping in mind the 12 month money back guarantee) I ordered one online. It felt yuck to the touch, which just makes no sense to me because I have bought and currently own several synthetic leather-look bags that really do feel and look like leather!
I also felt sad panda when Max collaborated with…someone (if you can remember, it was a NZ designer, please do pop it in the comments) but that was mainly because it just wasn’t to my taste/didn’t suit me. There was a lot of draped satin and edginess, as I recall, and because I am approximately the same height as a garden gnome, it was not The Go.
Well, I love shoes and I love World (from afar) and I was willing to learn to trust again. I went on the Number One Shoe Warehouse website, here and looked at the shoes. I am too scared of the might of World to borrow any images, so you’ll have to go to the website. Things looked promising. I love Dusty Springfield’s hair, so maybe shoes named after her were a great idea, I mused. Or those Edie Sedgwick ones. Admittedly I have two pairs of summer sandals, but the red ones are really lovely. Ahhhhh. New shoes.
So, after brunch on Saturday I asked my boyfriend whether he would mind if I just popped in for two seconds at the Lambton Quay store to have a briefest of brief looks. I literally just wanted to do a lap of the store and leave. Well, my first impression was “where are the shoes?”. There was very little signage in the window. Also, as it was 12pm I’d expected either a scrum of girls or an empty wasteland littered with abandoned boxes and one very sad little shoe all by itself. Instead, there were a few people in the store as usual, one of whom was trying on a veritable mountain of shoes (none of which were from the World collection).
The shoes were set out on a clean, uncluttered display and were the same colours etc as on the website. I just…didn’t feel it. I had absolutely zero desire to even pick one up. They didn’t look shoddy (although there was no effort, in my opinion, to create any fanfare or specialness around them either), they just…were. And after several days of deep contemplation, I know why.
You want cheap shoes? Number One Shoe Warehouse. Need really trampy shoes for a Halloween costume? Number One Shoe Warehouse. Need shoes to glitter as per my DIY tutorial? Number One Shoe Warehouse. Are you going to France in midwinter and realising you shouldn’t wear flip flops in Paris because the French will judge you and you won’t get into Chanel? Number One Shoe Warehouse.
Want ambience, desirability and full on XXX shoe lust? NOT Number One Shoe Warehouse. I’m sure lots of girls (and possibly a few boys) will have snagged a pair and will love them for ever and sleep with them on their pillow for several weeks, because there’s very little chance of getting World designs for $100 – $200 (except in the sales, and then only if you’re lucky). And I think there’s also a good chance that in approximately three weeks when the collaboration is sold out (if it isn’t already, although based on Saturday I will be surprised) I will regret not shaking off the Shoe Warehouseyness and buying a pair.
There’s just something not right about buying World from a place that smells like plastic and petroleum. I think my “take away”, to use awful corporate bigwig speak, is that designer items (for me at least) need that extra cache to create desire. If they’re easy to get, and cheap, I won’t really want them. If World had put those identical shoes in their own stores, I no doubt would have walked past and then stuck my greasy little face to the glass to peer at them and make grabby hands. That’s as close as I would have got, mind you.
How do you guys feel? Does bringing designer collaborations into the chain stores strike you as a very good idea, or are you confused and tormented like me?
EDIT: I saw the PPP Twitter feed which led me to http://cleo.msn.co.nz/cleonews/8294110/bag-some-kardashian-style. Yes. Hannahs are stocking bags designed by the Kardashian sisters. How do you feel about THAT?