Sunday, September 12, 2010

Your Pants are Lying to You: "Vanity Waist Sizing"


According to Esquire Magazine, many retailers are lying to consumers about waist sizes in order to make them feel thinner and more likely to buy their clothes.  The worst offenders? A pair of Old Navy pants labeled as size 36 were in fact 41 inches, a pair of size 36 Dockers were actually 39.5 inches, and Haggar and Gap were both selling 39 inch pants as size 36. CBS Sunday Morning featured a story today about the trend towards "vanity waist sizing."

13 Comments:

At 9/12/2010 7:54 PM, Blogger QT said...

Not surprising. The same trend is even more common in women's clothing. Someone figured out that most size 10-12 women would like to think they're wearing a size 8 like Catherine Zeta Jones.

Vanity sizing and lycra have made a lot of women happy.

 
At 9/12/2010 8:19 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Vanity sizing and lycra have made a lot of women happy"...

Oh QT that was just excellent!

Well from my perspective (6' 7" @ 345 lbs) I wish the same was happening to t-shirts, pant lengths, and shoe sizes...:-(

 
At 9/13/2010 6:27 AM, Blogger QT said...

6'7"...whoa! don't think i've ever crossed paths with someone that tall. I'll have to remember not to argue with you! :D

Hong Kong offers custom tailoring at very reasonable prices. Dress suit with 2 pairs of pants plus a pair of grey flanels for around $700 USD.

 
At 9/13/2010 8:48 AM, Blogger Rand said...

All that means is that you can no longer rely upon size tags when you purchase clothing. No more just grab it off the rack, pay for it, and you are done. You have to get a fitting room and try it on -- I hate that!

 
At 9/13/2010 8:53 AM, OpenID Rick said...

I wear 36" Old Navy jeans. Now I feel awful about myself.

 
At 9/13/2010 9:15 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Hong Kong offers custom tailoring at very reasonable prices"...

Yes, Hong Kong is a clothes horse's dream spot...

Back in '96 (just prior to the change over in '97) I had a tux and a light weight suit custom made and got some shirts to go with both...

I'll never see prices like that again...:-(

 
At 9/13/2010 9:47 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

the other side of this is tricky as well.

my old girlfriend is a legitimate size zero. she's just a tiny girl, 5'3" and about 100 pounds.

she could not even find US brands to buy. it was either shop at gap kids or buy the few euro brands (like prada) that still actually make small sizes.

men's clothers are just as difficult. i'm a 44 jacket 30-32 pant. try to buy that off the rack.

but that's life. sizing will move with the bell curve of society. "non standard" products will always be harder to find and cost more.

that said, i get incredibly annoyed by designers that are lying about absolute measurements. 32" should be 32". but hey, self delusion has always been a big part of marketing. a case of light beer rarely comes with a team bikini models to help drink it.

 
At 9/13/2010 10:34 AM, Blogger Tim said...

I've recently weight and inches while gaining fitness. My new official size is 34. I tried to purchase size 34 shorts and Costco and they seemed to literally be two size too big.
Frustrating, it was.

 
At 9/13/2010 12:54 PM, OpenID dmckee said...

The articles leaves out the answer to the most important question: "What brands, if any, are still telling the truth?"

 
At 9/13/2010 1:30 PM, Blogger Allison said...

Sure it isn't errors in production. Those Old Navy pants? We bought three pairs, all the same professed sizes. Two were exactly an inch bigger around than the other.

Similar problems for Gap abound. Just read the comments sections of their websites

 
At 9/13/2010 1:39 PM, Blogger DeeBee9 said...

Hmmm. Pants with a 5 inch difference between labeled and actual waist size would leave about 3/4 inch of extra space around the entire waist! How could these pants even stay up? Are you sure about this claim?

 
At 9/13/2010 2:23 PM, Blogger QT said...

morganivich,

Interestingly sizing often varies by targetted age group...in a store for teens, small is definitely small while a store for mature ladies has a small that is more like a medium or a large; leg diameter on pants is also much smaller.

75% of post menopausal women are either overweight or obese. Sizing reflects the realities selling to a larger customer.

Allison,

The only error that would seem likely is sewing the size tag on the article which does occasionally happen.

DeeBee9,

Good question....we so often assume that what we are told is accurate.

 
At 9/14/2010 10:13 PM, Blogger Allison said...

--The only error that would seem likely is sewing the size tag on the article ...

Um, no. For Gap and Old Navy, the sizes are silk screened onto the waist band in a very large font.

No, read the websites for those clothes stores. Over and over, commenters claim the sizes are inconsistent across the same printed size. That would happen not because of a mislabel, but because of incorrect manufacturing/sewing. Why would you believe there's a lot of quality control in China?

 

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