2010-12-02

Thrift Thursday. Size Wars

You know what they say... don't pay attention to the size label in the clothing, find something that fits you and looks good.

size1


If that rule is important in that place infested with teenagers (ie. the mall), it's 3X more important in the thrift store. There are three huge reasons why you need to place little importance on the the size tag...

1. Vanity sizing. It's not an unfamiliar concept to any of us... At Old Navy I grab a size 6 and head to the food court for some fries and at Guess, I can't button up a Large. OK, I never shop at Guess but you know what I am talking about... At least when you shop regularly at a certain store you get familiar with their system of sizing but at a thrift store, you never know what you are going to get.

2. International sizing. Every country has different sizing standards and number systems. It confusing to you but it's often confusing to the thrift store stock person as well. Items are often hung on the wrong rack. (Little tip: this happens at Winners/T.J. Maxx too... they get European brands which get hung on the wrong rack and so get left for deep discounts. Yeah! Discounts! And you thought this was just a thrift tip blog... I need to start charging.)

3. Vintage sizing. Different decades have their own styles; even body types changed over the years. When I find truly old clothing, it's a hard fit because I am so tall but on the opposite end, clothing from the 80's (are we really calling the 80's vintage already?) is cut really wide and large. I am going to be Captain Obvious and recommend you try it on...

I hope this doesn't make thrift shopping more complicated. Maybe sizing is the only compass you have when you set foot in a thrift store and now you have no idea where to start. It's not that you shouldn't pay any attention to your size... start looking where you usually fit in but don't be afraid to look at the next size up and down. Shopping at thrift stores requires an open mind and that applies to sizing too.

And now my favourite part of this post... the part where I eat a big slice of humble pie. Remember this dress?


purple5

I found it a couple of months ago at Value Village during one of their 50% off sales, I paid maximum $5 for it?... I saw it on the rack, thought it was cute, checked the size, it was a 12 and I figured I would consign it. Because I am not a size 12, OK? (note: that is my pride talking in a valley girl voice, waving my hand back and forth, snapping my fingers) Back in the day, I was probably like a lot of teenagers... scarfing down MacDonald's (behind my Mom's back, for the record) and ridiculous amounts of candy, secretly delighting in the fact that I was still slim. And then that thing called metabolism slowed down and I woke up one day and my pants wouldn't go up. And I am aware now that I can't take those things for granted and so I do my best to eat healthy and be active. And that's why my pride told me I couldn't be a size 12. But I tried that dress on and um... did you see the lift it gave my booty? Am I allowed to say that? Turns out I am not consigning that dress. Change the tag from size 12 to size swallow my pride and look good.

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42 comments :

Linda said...

Yenster, thanks for that. Really, thanks. I know how hard it is to swallow pride like that, remember when I first lost the weight and I was all like "SIZE 10 BITCHES!!!".
Sometimes to make myself feel better if it isn't my regular size and it fits, I simply cut out the damn tag. Because honestly, I don't need to know the size, so eff you tag...away with you!

Hey, I'm first to comment for once!

Between Laundry Days said...

Yup. I have everything from a size 0 to a size 12 in my closet, most of it thrifted. If only womens' clothes were measured like mens', with actual MEASUREMENTS. What a world, what a world...

Mai Pai said...

Hear, hear. I did a post on this very thing myself. That said, what if we just cut the size tags out? Problem solved and vanity intact!

From Suns To Moons said...

What a great post! Both informative and amusing, you are a talented writer.

Artfully Awear said...

I very much agree with you. I've also found great thrifted things in the kids' department! Great tips!

Future Lint said...

Good tips! I always look in all the sizes because sometimes I like an oversized cardigan, so why not look by the large and extra larges! I have everything from 0-12 in my closet and I don't care. But some of that modern sizing has gotten crazy! I am sorry, but I am not a zero!

Jameil said...

Thrift Thursdays are the best idea you've ever had on this blog! Love it!

The Elegant Bohemian said...

You are completely speaking my language! I used to be held hostage by sizes...it was liberating to just buy what fits. And I have ALL kinds of sizes in my closet...and I love each and every one of them! ~Serene

Amanda said...

Great tips! And of course you look great in that dress. You always do. But is there anything wrong with being a size 12?

Farm Girl Fashionista said...

Great post!! I spent yesterday in a thrift store dressing room with a multitude of sizes...it definitely could've been a blow to the ol'ego...but when I scored a $5vintage trench coat after I had been looking online at $65-100 ones...all was good in the world again!!

http://thefarmgirlfashionista.blogspot.com/

myedit said...

Nothing wrong with being a size 12... at all. I am usually a size 8 so my pride tripped me up over fitting a size 12. This a a post about the inaccuracies in sizing but deep down there is a lot more to discuss concerning our feelings and body issues in relation to the number on the tag. It is often said but what matters is being healthy.

SarahLou said...

Hi there Yen, loving your blog - discovered it a week or so ago and have been back and read fromm the beginning. You have SO inspired me to try the thrift shopping thang, though here in the UK it tends to be associated with grungy students and little old ladies - although I think that's starting to change with the current economic climate. Anyway, regarding the dress size issue, it's probably a UK 12 - which is a US 8 (not sure in Canadian...) so exactly your size!

Anonymous said...

Let me use my valley girl voice and say: that is soooo true!
It's weird people's perceptions of a sizing tag, working at a thrift store I find the majority of people who cut off the manufacturer's tags are a Large and up. WHY do people do this? Are you so scared to have your tag sticking out and someone see that you are deemed an L? If you look and feel good and work it then nobody (really, I promise) cares!

NoGuiltFashion said...

Great post, because, it is so true. Like you said this applies elsewhere too, but it is ten times more important when thrifting.
No Guilt Fashion

Anonymous said...

Ive been reading your blog religiously from the beginning. I love ALL your outfits. I also thrift all the time and am constantly jealous of the things you find.
But your blog today really hurt my feelings. I had a baby a year and a half ago and gained over one hundred pounds. I cant tell you how much I hated myself every time I looked in the mirror or had to pass by all the "cute" clothes on my way to the plus size.
I am FINALLY down to a size 12 now. Not the smallest Ive ever been but close to my weight before baby.
I cant tell you how much my perception of my body has changed. I love myself. Today when I read your capital bold letters, "I AM NOT A SIZE 12! OK?" I felt disgusting for the first time in a while. I felt like the fat girl that no one wants to sit by and your on the "cool" girls table laughing at me.
Sorry to go off. I love your blog. Your a beautiful girl with an amazing body. In my head Ive been jealous of your form from day 1. I just dont need it pointed out that your obviously smaller than a size 12.

Emma at Daily Clothes Fix said...

Ah, the joys of sizing. I am normally a UK 10 but sometimes a 12. Which makes me a US 6 (which always confuses me when I'm in Gap and makes buying on eBay almost impossible for US brands, as you can't tell whether it's a UK or US size listed). The whole thing is too confusing.

I've got two vintage skirts from the same brand, one is a 10 and one is a 14. Both fit. Who can tell what will fit? Try stuff on is the best advice. It also helps if you can eye stuff up a bit for sizing too.

Emily Kennedy said...

I'm bummed people are having a hard time with your honesty about the dress being labeled a 12. I do not think you were saying that a 12 is large. I think what you were saying is that this dress is either mis-labeled in U.S./Canadian Women's sizing, or was in UK sizing, or was in U.S./Canadian Girls sizing.

Looking at the adorable (but quite small) frock, my money is on it actually being a Size 12 in U.S./Canadian Girls. I'm totally not kidding.

But on the meta - I guess we all need a reminder that labels on clothes have nothing to do with the worth or value of people and their gorgeous, beautiful, womanly bodies. They are just labels on fabric.

Elizabeth Edith said...

When I first saw you in that dress my thinking was "omg. she's so skinny. She must be like a size 4. Or probably 2." So it's so funny to see this :)

Shannon said...

So true.... I've got everything from a 0 to a 14, both thrifted and retail. When I go thrifting I never look at the tags, I just hold it up to me. If it looks like it'll fit, I try it on. Though this results in my bringing a monstrous amount of clothing into the dressing room, I wasn't a competitive swimmer for six years for nothing...I can quick change like nobody's business.

em.me.ma said...

haha lovwe you value village story; i recently picked up a bunch of sweater there .

very true; i picked up over sized stuf all the time and usually its perfect for at home or I alter it myself:)

lovely post!

Kaytoe said...

Chiming in to say I really liked this post, and your Thrift Thursdays in general.

I became a big thrifter a couple years ago, and it's actually helped a lot of my size hangups. Like you, I hit that mid-20s metabolism wall & gained a few pounds. But, with thrifting it's not "oh I don't fit the size I used to be, this is horrible, I don't want to size up" but instead "Oh man I hope that awesome thing will fit me because there is only 1 of them, I don't care what the tag says." It's made me much more likely to actually see the measurements of the garments instead of focusing on the tag.

genevieve, sandbox romance said...

One; this post totally cracked me up. It's adorable. And delightfully funny. And so true! And good advice. (gosh, what more could a girl ask for?)

Two; that dress is amazing and looks fabulous on you! Screw size twelve, which you are not. Loving the tights, too!

Kandi-STYLE said...

Great tips!!! BTW, I lurve this dress on you, it looks great!

Terri said...

I'd say that dress had to be mis-sized. No matter what the tag says, it looks fantastic on you. And all of these are great tips. One rule of thumb I've found is that the better the quality of the item, the more likely it is to find a tag that says size 2 or 4 or 6 and actually FITS my size 10.

myedit said...

Dear Anonymous,
It really bothers me that this post made me hurt your feelings. That is not the intention at all. As I said in my comment earlier on this post is about sizing discrepancies (totally spelling that wrong... too tired to check) but there is definately an underlying current concerning what size makes us feel good. By posting this, I was admitting, that I, like many women, have body issues and they affect and skew how I see myself. There is no perfect number that works for every woman, it's about being healthy.
I don't know if this counts for anything but I never sat at the cool table in highschool...

Fashion Butter said...

If any size number on the tag ever bothers me, I just cut it out. Problem solved!

A.Co said...

Agree.

Agree.

Agree.

Okay fine, I agree with everything you said. There, I said it. You're brilliant, it's a well known fact.

It ANNOYS me when my girlfriends get whiny and complain they are trying on a bigger size - like WHO CARES, every store/brand/design is different, what matters is the fit, the size does not matter (espcially when you're maintaining your weight). Regardless, good advice on the thrifting - sizes DON'T matter... however, I AM shocked that dress is a 12 - so strange.

A.Co @ A.Co est. 1984

PS - your booty IS lifted :P

Kendi Lea said...

Oh Jentine -- you make my day. I too have to remind myself that whoever is sizing the clothing we wear (seriously, who IS sizing clothing?) it does not really matter. Just like age is just a number, size is just a number as well. I bought a 14 at a thrift store a few months ago and it's super freaking tight. Like I need to go to a club and pick up some men tight. (I won't because I'm married, ok?) But because I've thrifted for a while I knew it was just a number someone in the 80s slapped on a tag and it didn't even phase me. You are spot on when it comes to the jumbled up collection of sizes in a thrift store, I think that's what makes it so much fun!

So thrifted clothing doesn't bother me for some reason on the size, I think vanity sizing trips me up more. I'm a 6 in one store and 10 in another. Hey Retailers -- Can't we all just get along?!

kathleen said...

okay... lemme get this straight.
Vanity sizing is a new thing and it's bad but you should be wary of vintage sizing because the sizing is different from today because BODY TYPES CHANGED OVER THE YEARS ... but they haven't changed now? That today's sizing is considered "vanity" could be described as contemporary arrogance. Yeah, sizes evolve, just like people do. And it matters where you live -since you bring up international sizing. Other cultures are more genetically homogenous than we are in the US.

Let me ask you this: could a 70 year old Japanese man or woman be justified in describing modern day Japanese sizing as "vanity sized"? The clothes are so much bigger than they used to be because modern Japanese are at least 5 to 6 inches taller etc. I think you'd agree it would not be rational for them to say anything like that. Now, since we in the US have gotten markedly fatter in the past 20 to 30 years, why would we have the contemporary arrogance to say today's clothes are vanity sized when they are sized for today's average consumer? Just because we are old enough remember earlier sizing and that clothing lasts so much longer that it used to (due to less wear, better fiber quality etc) to have a point of comparison, doesn't mean it's some nefarious plot to undermine consumers.

There is no such thing as vanity sizing. That doesn't mean there isn't something going on with sizing but it's closer to *sizing evolution* because sizes evolve along with bodies. The problem is that people think sizing is a mathematical construct but it isn't. A size number is a symbol, not a formula. In fact, you could use colors or symbols to indicate sizing and it would have the same evolutionary trajectory that a number has. Sizing is a social construct in the very same way that silhouettes, colors and trends are but we don't claim those are conspiracies.

Stella said...

I think sizing only bothers me with the concept of vanity sizing, but it's more from the concepts of societal mores and such. I really just look at the garment and always try it on. Of course, I'm the demented type that always sees potential in something (it doesn't fit? Take it in! Let it out! Turn it into a skirt/cushion/dog bed/hair bow). But, sizes, I don't care for them. I have everything and then some.

The only sizing that concerns me is when my favorite pair of jeans that I own won't fit and I have to go a size or two up. Now, that really sucks for me. :/

myedit said...

Kathleen-Thanks for your comment and the link to your article. I did not put much thought into it when I used the words 'vanity sizing' but you have brought up valid points.
However, I never said that vanity sizing (which as you pointed out is not an accurate term for the differences in sizing between retailers) is a new or a bad thing. All I wanted to convey with this post is that a thrift store has a mishmash of clothing from around the world that has been sized according to cultural standards at the time. Hence the number on the tag is not a reflection of fit, the image in the mirror is. This entire post was never intended to be about body image or the politics of sizing, it was just meant to help people keep an open mind while enjoying the thrift hunt for treasure.

kathleen said...

You would think I would know better by now but I should not post anywhere in the mornings. I come off entirely too harshly. And not that I'm in a bad mood -quite the contrary- I just tend to use words as crudely as a sledge hammer.

My sincere apologies.

Linda said...

Whatever people, it's a blog, not a freaking political debate section. Yen wasn't stating that anything larger than her size 8 booty is hideous. Simply stating that she had a moment of "I'm not a size 12' just to realize that she could fit the freaking garment and it looked fantastic.

Gees, sometimes this community gets all worked up over nothing.

myedit said...

Kathleen- apology accepted. No worries.
Linda- you are a good kid. What did you get me for my birthday? haha... I kid, I kid.

Sara C said...

I hate vanity sizing and how designers keep changing their clothing sizing. A size 0 at J. Crew is really like a 4 or 6!


I had to swallow my own pride a few months ago. I took a sewing class, and learned that almost all paper sewing patterns use the SAME sizing that they did, oh, like 70 years ago. Or more. I'm usually a size 8 or 10, and had to hold onto the edge of the table when my sewing teacher measured me and told me to sew along the pattern to a size 16!! But you know what? That skirt looks damn good on me...

Glitter Scrubs said...

Oooh look at all the action happening here haha!

I don't want to be a size 12 either.

And I also don't want to be a size 0.

And that is A-okay. Should that offend those who are size 12 or size 0? Hopefully not, but at my height, neither of those sizes would be healthy for me.
I totally get your humour, sarcasm and quick wit in your postings and I thoroughly enjoy them. That style is right up my alley. Good on you for touching on a sensitive topic that many fashion blogs avoid. Do it again, do it again! :)

Anonymous said...

I love thrifting. Unfortunately, my stores don't have dressing rooms, so it's hit and miss on trying some types of clothing on. What helps me is having a list of my measurements, of several key areas of my body. That way, I can measure some of the clothing in those areas and have a fairly good idea if it will fit. I wear lightweight camis or tanks, so I can try clothes on over them. I also wear a skirt, so I can try on pants or shorts under it. Just a few ideas.

Cindy

Sarah said...

I love the new look of the blog and recent thrift tips! Please keep them coming!

wardrobeexperience said...

i never care about the sizing at a thirft shop or vintage store because ...of all those things you've said in this post. i'm totally with you.

but i feel absolutly bad by trying italien shoes... they make me feel like biiiiiiiiig foot.

by the way, you look so stunning in this dress!


http://wardrobexperience.blogspot.com

Jen said...

Love this post! I learned not to care so much about size when the 20 pounds I gained my first year of marriage snuck up on me overnight. I didn't realize my weight gain and kept wearing my same clothes not realizing I was progressively squeezing myself into them until one day I about busted out of the dress I had picked out for a friend's wedding. When I moved up to a size 6, I got more compliments because they fit better and emphasized my shape better. Um, size 8/10 later . . .

You look awesome in this dress! You look like a 4.

Okay, I just typed all of that before reading the various comments. I know you didn't mean to offend anyone. I thought the same thing when I bought a pair of size 14 pants at Lane Bryant. I don't usually shop there but I did because I wanted comfy pants. I didn't care about the size; I was shopping for fit. I am only 4'11" and most of my family wear size 4/6 clothes and size 6 shoes. I wear 8/10 clothes and size 7.5/8 shoes. I've got my health, so why do I care?

Look forward to your next post! I've had you on my blogroll.

kristine said...

Super great tips - gives me another reason to scour TJ Maxx. Oh dear! And yeah, I never really understood vintage sizing... that's actually a lot of the reason why vintage shopping really frustrates me. But I should just toughen up- I know I'm probably just missing out on great clothes!

Kristine. Or Polly.

Colleen said...

I wrote an entire post on vanity sizing. Thrift stores would be the worst because you have to think about when it is from for what size you wore at that time. Seems like a lot of work.
http://scrapandrun.blogspot.com/2010/11/vanity-sizing-dislikes.html

Kathleen I believe there is vanity sizing... or whatever you want to call it. At Old Navy, You can buy the smallest size and have it fit. Every company is different.

People are changing but I'm being SIZED OUT at stores so they are not changing properly. and I'm 5'7. I'm not a super short/super skinny person. I'm pretty normal.

Also Kathleen men's sizing are labeled in inches and are bigger now tell me how that is sizing evolution. that is lies.

Sorry Jentine for going on a rant over here. I apologize.