Friday, June 22, 2007

Vanity Sizing


There is something very sneaky and sinister going on in the fashion world and I think I'm the last to figure it out. Designers are lying to women … and we’re loving every minute of it!

A fashion designer’s latest salvo in the customer experience area is called Vanity Sizing.

A number of years ago a new size was introduced to unsuspecting consumers … Size 0. We all know the Size 0 lady: no hips, no waist, and certainly no pecan pie has ever touched her lips. She’s not even a lady, but some pre-pubescent “woman-girl” who likes designer duds.

The first time I knew there was a Size 0 in stores was when I was trying on some clothes at Holt Renfrew on Bloor Street a little while back. I was desperately in need of a pair of funky jeans and was in the change room trying to squeeze myself into a very tight pair of Burberry pants. Just as I was inhaling as deeply as I could to pull up the zipper, a lady in the next change room yelled out to the sales associate, “This Size 2 is too big. Can you please bring me a zero?” I was so disturbed that I felt like running to the nearest Harvey’s and shoving a great big Angus Burger down her throat.

And then I realized the Burberry jeans had slid quite nicely over my J.Lo thighs. “I’m a Size 6!” I almost shouted at the lady next door. “I’ve never been a Size 6 in jeans.” I was on such a high that I ended up trying on Calvin Klein pants, a Ralph Lauren jacket, and a Donna Karan blouse, with my sizes ranging anywhere from 4 to 6! “This is amazing!” I thought. “Either I’m losing weight or my flab is shifting!”

Sadly, I knew the jig was up when I walked into the Betsey Johnson shop in Yorkville and managed to get into a Size 2 frilly camisole. The last time I was a Size 2 … I was two years old. Something was amiss.

And then it finally hit me. I’m not getting any thinner. Rather, designers are getting shifty with their sizing and giving us gals the biggest ego boost ever in return for brand loyalty. Designers have figured out how to get a positive brand experience from consumers simply by dressing that Rubenesque Size 14 gal into a Size 10 dress. If you’re a classic Size 8 (the average woman’s size), you’ll be dipping into a Size 6 or 4 easily these days. And it’s not just my conspiracy theory mentality. Every woman I know is talking about this new “thin” phenomenon and a number of press around this subject.

So how is this even possible? Well, with the mass introduction of Size 0, which essentially is a Size 2, all of the clothes we are trying on now have moved down a notch or two to accommodate making the twos feel like zeros. And, of course, they’re adding Lycra to everything from bras to jeans to evening gowns making it so much easier to slide into our teensy-sized clothes. Lycra seems to be everywhere – hey, I think there’s even a hint of it in my furniture polish!

Suffice to say, designers are having a field day with the female mind by helping them buy into the slim myth. The good news is that there’s really no harm being done here. It’s a win-win for everyone: designers get repeat business and women get size bragging rights.

Now if only those designer price tags would downsize, too…!

14 comments:

BigTalker said...

There's a little-known curiosity in the land of women known as skewed perception, and I fear it is now affected the PR Maven.

Those of you who know the designer diva are fully aware that her teeny tiny frame can't be more than a size 0, or 2 tops.

That said, I'm more than a little miffed Size ZERO exists. It absolutely sends the wrong message to young women who often struggle with body image. And in trying achieve a "body of nothing" many women are (predictably) making themselves sick. What's next? Negative sizes? Imagine social Xrays Mary Kate and Ashley squabbling over the last Size Minus 4 on the rack.

Love the skin you're in, chicklets!

Julie Rusciolelli said...

Ha .. love your comment ... negative sizing, oh ya, that's coming for sure! Now that Paris is out and she dropped another 10 pounds she'll be the first in line scooping up the "minus size" halter tops ...

Sarah said...

Size 0? How about the fact that a size 00 exists? That is clearly wrong. And although much is made of the fact that Marilyn Monroe was a size 14, due to vanity sizing she'd be a size 8 by today's fashion standard. Give it another ten years and maybe Marilyn will make it to 0 as well.

Julie Rusciolelli said...

00 sizing! That's ridiculous ... how low can designers go? I guess those chubby women in the Dove ads haven't rubbed off on the fashion industry yet!

Anonymous said...

It's a curiosity. In an age when women work fulltime, own their own businesses, hire people to look after their children, purchase their own homes, cars, technology and gadgets, they take pride in declaring their dress sizes or in letting people (even journalists) know they're "shop-a-aholics" or "shoe freaks". Kind of takes away from their image as independent, accomplished individuals. Would the president of Manulife Canada be caught dead extolling the virtues of having a 34-inch waist? Or confessing to a passion for Gucci shoes?

Julie Rusciolelli said...

Well, first off thanks for the compliment! I have never been compared to Mr. D’Alessandro and the only thing we have in common is that we share an Italian sounding last time.

Isn’t it wonderful to make comments on my blog under the blanket of “anonymity” in which I have provided you? You get ballsier that way don’t you?

You obviously don’t know me, what turns my crank or have read my blog in any meaningful way. I look at many issues affecting women, entrepreneurs, my industry etc. I have tackled many serious issues on my blog, but I also like to post light-hearted entries about popular culture and fashion. The fact that I created and run a successful multi-million dollar operation doesn’t mean I don’t have issues I deal with every day. From my mingling phobia to my body image problem (thank you fashion industry) I grapple with stuff that a lot of women do and yes, sometimes I like to blog about it. It’s what makes my blog unique and my readers seem to like my refreshing style. Would you like me to pontificate about Web 2.0 social media/ PR practices every time I blog? If you want that drivel I can point you to 20 other blogs who do it “boringly” well.

As for journalists who read my blog (do they?), I could give a rat’s ass if they know they know my waist size or my preference for shoes or undergarments (I never told anyone, but it’s Jockeys all the way!)..

Sounds like you’ve had your sense of humor surgically removed. Keep reading my blog, I’ll get you laughing in no time!

As for me, I’ll continue blogging in my own style and cadence … after all … I am a MAVERICK …

Thomas said...

The British Standards Institute has drafted a clothing size label, described under BS-EN13402. This standard calls for a pictogram with actual measurements in centimeters. These new labels are due for release sometime in 2008. I have read that similar labels are available in Japan right now. Work began on the standard in 1996, and ready for publication in 2003. I was ready for the new labels as early as 1983, when my body measurements "went metric".

Julie Rusciolelli said...

Good to know the UK is onto something in the area of "size" standardization. Not sure if that will catch on in North America, but we need to start somewhere! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Thomas said...

I don't think it will catch on in the USA. More likely in Mexico where metric has been used for some time. Canada is a possibility for the new labels.

Thomas said...

I think the reason men have logical clothing sizes and women have illogical sizes is due to the manufacturers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Men's clothes were originally made by tailors working from actual measurements, and their sizes were established in preparation for the Civil War. Women's clothes were originally made by seamstresses and dressmakers, working from graded patterns. Their sizes were established sometime in the 1920's or 1930's. Before that it was manufacture to fit. Children's sizes were originally by age, which now does not make sense.

Anonymous said...

I am so sick of Vanity sizing. I am the ideal weight for my height (5'1") and it is almost impossible for me to buy clothes in a store. The stores I once loved I can't even find something small enough to fit me. I should be a size 4 or 6 in reality. My wedding dress is a 6. Then I can't say anything because the overweight clerk gives me evil looks and tells me that she doesn't feel sorry for me and to just eat more. I'm not telling her to just eat less! I feel like the small ladies need a voice before we are totally sized out of the market and end up shopping in the kiddie section!

Thomas said...

If you think you might need to go to the kiddie section, you belong in the petite section, more mature, but about the same size. If you wear children's clothing, you might not be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

I doubt very much that the 5'1" lady shops anywhere but the petite section. Petite clothing is cut shorter in length and at the waist. It is not cut narrower. I am 5'2" and have the same issues. I was a size 2 twenty years ago and am a small 2 or 0 now even though I weigh 20 pounds more. 20 pounds on a 5'2" person is a real weight gain.

For sweats and such I do shop the girls dept. but their stuff is vanity sized too! I can wear a 14 now but couldn't 20 years ago.

The size 0 or 00 is not made to insult anyone, it simply reflect that sizing has changed. Not everyone has gotten bigger. Smaller people do still need to dress. I should be at least a size 8, but now must return the size 2 jeans I bought because they are cut too big. I am a very curvy filled out woman. Go figure...

Anonymous said...

I hate vanity sizing... I understand that clothing manufacturers have to accomodate to the changing body types, but I have the exact same problem as the person who is 5'1". I'm 5'3", about 115 lbs and I have what they call a "boyish" figure... I don't starve myself or work out all the time, that's just how I'm built. I wish SO badly that I had a curvier shape, but alas, I don't. So how do you think my self-esteem has been affected by going from a size 4 in high school to a size 00 in my twenties? It's ridiculous. It's as if clothing stores are telling me that I am not a real size, not a real woman, or not healthy. I'm worried about other people in my situation who try to buy clothes for work and end up looking sloppy because their clothes are too big. It's basically asking us to get breast implants, stop working out, and start eating more. -CH