Weighty Matters

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Sizes Then, Sizes Now

on September 30, 2012

The wind came up enough for me to not take out the boat for a ride today.  I opted to unpack the box of clothes that I bought last weekend in New Jersey and, while I was at it, purge some more clothes from my closets.  Just for fun, I put on a pair of jeans that were the largest size I ever had to wear.  They fit me like clown pants, which means they don’t fit at all.  If I pull out the waist band, there’s a good eight inch gap between the material and my body.  I could hold out inches of material on either side of the legs.  Into the donation pile they went.  I hope they find a new home with someone that size who badly needs jeans in good condition.  They are also welcome to the two fleece tops, the corduroy pull over, the three pairs of black pants and various other garments I added to the pile.

As you know, I’ve been stressing all week about clothes for the charity fundraiser I have coming up in three weeks.  It’s a Masquerade party and we’re encouraging guests to dress up.  The night before, I have a dressy but less formal dinner to attend.  I mentioned in an earlier post that my friend bailed me out on the attire for that by loaning me a black sheath dress with a blingy light gauzy jacket/wrap.

For the Masquerade, I really didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a new dress that I most likely will not have a reason to wear again before it becomes too big.  However, I don’t want to look like someone who should be on an episode of What Not to Wear either.  So, I resigned myself to parting with some bucks and started looking online.  I found lots of options –in my old sizes!  Apparently I’m now at a popular size so the dress pickings were slim, to say the least.  This was particularly the case because I will not, under any condition, wear a sleeveless dress or one that has those darling little cap sleeves.  There is nothing darling or little about my upper arms.  Although I can see the defined bicep when I flex the muscle, there’s lots of flab still swinging below.  (Add it to the list of body areas that will eventually need surgical “tightening”.)

I said earlier this week that I finally found a dressy top that I liked.  Yesterday a friend gave me the name and number of a seamstress who can take in the evening pants I relocated in my closet.  I figured that I was set.  Today while I was clothes purging, I remembered that I had several dressy dresses from several years ago that could also be sorted through and purged.

These include a lilac evening gown that I’ve never worn.  I bought it on order maybe six or seven, possibly eight years ago for a wedding.  Unfortunately, even though I measured my body parts and ordered the largest size I’ve ever worn, it didn’t fit right.  Since it was an order, the company wouldn’t let me return it.  I didn’t even need to unzip it to put it on today and it is hanging on me like a big old bag.  Seriously, the bodice was down around my waist.  It’s a lovely gown and was not inexpensive.   I think I should borrow a dress mannequin, photograph it and offer it for sale on ebay.

That got me started trying on these clothes from my past.  This turned out to be an interesting, somewhat puzzling exercise.   Remember that I have not been this weight in longer than I can remember.  I certainly was heavier than I am now when I bought all of these dresses.  After trying them all on I have come to believe that, like the national debt things are bigger now than they were years ago.

The first dress that I pulled out I wore to a black tie optional evening in 1997.  According to the size tag, it is only one size larger than I’m wearing now, so I figured it might actually work for the upcoming event.  I slipped it on and it fit great.  I figure that’s because it’s a fairly straight cut sheath so the extra size up compensates for my curviness even in a smaller body.

Next, I looked at a chiffon cocktail dress with heavily beaded bodice that I wore to my nephew’s bar mitzvah in 2000.  According to the tag, this should have been huge.  While I wasn’t my heaviest at the time, I was definitely larger than I am now.  It’s a good thing that I didn’t go by size tag alone or I’d never have tried this one on today.  It’s a little loose, but the cut and style flatter my smaller figure.  Twelve years ago, the bodice and waist were definitely more snug and, as I recall, I needed to wear a body shaper underneath.  Not so today.  I can definitely wear this to the Masquerade if I so choose.

The third dress is a wine-colored swing dress that I bought for a cousin’s wedding in 1996 or 1997.  I’d been on a diet right before then and had lost around 60 pounds.  I still was bigger than my current weight, but something about the style of this dress made it fit me right even though it was a size 22.  I fully expected this dress to look the best on me today.  It didn’t!  The neckline gapped open and the entire dress hung on me like a shapeless sack.  What the hell?

To recap:  One dress that is a size up from my current size fits great.  One dress that by tag should have been way too big fits me well enough that it’s only a little loose but still wearable and flattering.  One dress that should have fit me perfectly looks like an oversized wine-colored bag.

This makes no sense.  I can only surmise that manufacturers have gradually increased their sizes over the years.  What was a size 22 in the 90s is probably a 26, maybe a 28, today.   A size 4X from 12 or 15 years ago might be today’s 6X.  This doesn’t explain the size 26 of yesteryear that fits like today’s 24, but I think that’s a freak occurence and not the norm.

A friend suggests that we also need to take into account that a “regular” size 24 is smaller than a “woman’s” or “plus” size 24.  So it really could depend on what company made or sold the garment.

At the end of the day, I’m still confused, but at least I can stop stressing over that upcoming event.   I have something to wear and whichever of the two outfits I choose on that day, I’m going to look terrific!


4 responses to “Sizes Then, Sizes Now

  1. Hope says:

    You should have kept those pants! Then you could hold them up People Magazine style when you hit your goal weight. :p

    Vanity sizing means that you just can’t go by the the tag when shopping these days. I find it incredibly frustrating.

  2. pinkpelican says:

    Congratulations on successfully “shopping in your closet” & finding wonderful things to wear!

    As for the sizing? First, there’s “vanity” sizing. A lot of manufacturers have played with the numbers over the years, in part apparently to make us “feel better about ourselves” by re-numbering stuff so that smaller numbers were bigger sizes. Remember when women’s sizes used to be in the 40’s, & then suddenly they were in the 20’s? That drove me crazy. I didn’t feel better about myself. I felt pissed off because I didn’t know what size to order.

    And on top of that, there is simply no consistency in sizing for women’s clothing. Every manufacturer has a different sizing & patterning method. So their sizing charts are sometimes just enough different from one another that you can wear a 10 by this company & it’s loose, but try a 2X by that company & you are popping seams.

    I have sweaters that my mother-in-law wore 10 years ago. Her weight was very consistent; some of those clothes are too small for me; some hang on me like your clown pants; some fit perfectly.

    I went into Steinmart the other day to look for cardigans. I happened to see a gorgeous sweater, then saw it was in the petite section & almost walked away. But the arms & body looked long, & it was gorgeous, so I tried it on & it fit like a treat. And I checked every tag, & it was a petite.

    what’s so weird about that? I’m 5′ 7″ and I have orangutan arms. How in the name of all that’s holy is that sweater made for petite ladies?!

    I have a friend who is very involved in the fashion industry & she confirms that there truly is no consistency in the sizing for women’s apparel. I have learned to try on anything that looks like it even has a hope of fitting my body, especially if it’s a knit or a sweater. Sometimes that’s hard, because my eyes are still readjusting to “what looks like it might fit”. Most of the stuff that fits is in the “large” range right now, but I will sometimes find a medium that is too big and an extra large that is too small.

    when ordering online, I have started checking size charts before I order. That doesn’t always help either, because I am pear shaped (although starting to verge on hour glass), & frequently my bust is in one size range, my waist in another, & my hips in yet another.

    I’ve also found that just because something fits size-wise, doesn’t mean it looks good. I’ve learned not to blow off something that hangs strangely on a hanger, or that is cut in a style that I don’t think I like. I’ve found some pieces that looked stupid as all get out on the rack, but when I put them on they flattered my figure beyond belief.

    And now that I know it’s the *FASHION INDUSTRY* that is stupid and/or smoking crack, I don’t get nearly as upset when stuff doesn’t fit, or doesn’t look right, or I go through 40 tops & only find 2 or 3 that look good. Mostly, I’ve just learned to go shopping when I have time for patience and can try on a billion items. ;=)

  3. Skye says:

    That’s great that you found more things that fit and lots more to give away! It’s fun to go thru old clothes and find out what you want to keep and what to give away. I have a huge drawer packed to the gills with tee shirts that I have to do that with because I don’t wear all the tee shirts and I don’t need all those tee shirts. I’ll make sure to keep some for when I lose weight, but even beyond that there are shirts I don’t want. I just need to weed them out.

    Think of the happy woman who gets your too-big evening wear. She’s going to be in seventh heaven.

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