Ask the Bean: Sizing up Sizes: What Size Am I Really?

November 5, 2008 • Fashion


Dear Bean:

I seem to face a constant struggle whenever I go shopping. I
noticed that almost every item I try on that claims to be my size fits
differently. The pants I try on at Banana Republic are two sizes
smaller than those in Max Studio, and they both fit me the same. And
the Medium in J. Crew is different than the Medium in Mango. Is there a
way to know what size I am without having to try on four sizes in each


Dear Sized-Up:

Over the years, asking a woman’s size has become a complicated
affair. It used to be very straight-forward: “I am a 6”, “I am a 12”,
and so on. Now instead we have to ponder and respond: “Well I’m a size
6 in this store, a size 4 in this one and a size 14 at this other one”.
Sizing has become as wide-range as the average woman’s shoe collection.

In the United States we prefer to be original and inventive.
Therefore we still use miles instead of kilometers, and we created our
own standard clothing sizing. We can walk into any vintage clothing
store and know that those clothes were not originally sized the same as
the ready to wear lines in stores now. One of the primary reasons for
that is, in the 1980s, the United States created its coined “Catalog
Sizes”, which are on average six sizes larger than the original

Then in 2006, an article in the Boston Globe stated that many stores created new sizing measurements to cater to petites and women of a certain age (read full article at: So not only has our clothing sizes changed over the years, but in some situations sizing standards are deemed irrelevant.

Read more "Sizing up Sizes: What Size Am I Really?" here

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