The world of sizes for women’s clothes is bizarre. A woman could wear a size 2 in one brand’s apparel, but a 6 in another.

In June, a woman posted a letter to H&M, which went viral, for not being able to fit into its size 16 jeans … while wearing a size medium shirt.


In a recent video for Vox, a reporter tried on three different pairs of pants in the same size and three different stores — Zara, Topshop, and Forever 21 — to prove that this theory was true. Then, Vox set to find out why.

The video reveals the history of women’s apparel sizing, from the first data set that determined sizing — comprised from data from poor, likely underfed Caucasian women and nixed in 1983 — to today’s vanity sizing.

A Vox reporter proved that these three jeans — all in the same size — were actually different sizes. Youtube/Vox

Sizing today is used as a marketing tool, the video notes. This can vary from store to store — which makes sense, given how different stores target different demographics.

“I think we’re more aiming for our own target markets,” Lynn Boorady, associate professor and chair of the fashion and textile technology department at SUNY Buffalo State, told Vox. “So, when Abercrombie & Fitch does their sizing, they’re sizing to their targeting market, not to me. We kept tweaking that information until we sold more garments and could lower the return rate.”

But for people who are fretting about not being able to slip into a smaller size, Boorady sums up: “They are just random numbers, they don’t mean anything.”

Check out the full story and video here

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