Talbot’s sizing study

Joanna sends word of a newly released sizing study commissioned by Talbots. Somehow, 85% of women know if something fits them by looking at the size tag but 62% of them don’t know their own body measurements! Moreover, only 16% of women will check the manufacturer’s size chart (19% for online and catalog shoppers) to verify sizing. But wait, there’s more…

Among the respondents willing to try a larger size, 40 percent indicated one size up was their limit and less than 20 percent said they would be willing to try two sizes up in their quest for the best fit.

This almost reminds me of that post I wrote on size being a matter of opinion, a problem that is compounded when you consider that most people lie about their size. The costs of misreporting are high with the exception of people who are eating disordered; the latter tend to be the most accurate in describing their attractiveness.

How can women continue to complain about sizing if they don’t know their own dimensions, lie about what they do know and won’t read sizing charts? It seems we can’t win for losing. Not that any of you are off the hook of course, but consumer behavior only complicates and frustrates matters. I keep saying that sizing is a social phenomenon, a two way street and if consumers don’t know their size or erroneously report it, manufacturers can’t -or lacking confidence, won’t- respond appropriately. This really contributes to the continual entropy of fit. No wonder sizing is all over the map or stuck in S,M,L shapeless rectangles and squares. Just how can manufacturers be expected to deal with this? How do you differentiate your sizing with your customers?

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  1. jj says:

    As one of the 16% who does check the manufacturer’s sizing chart, I sure would appreciate if it were accurate. I’m about to give up on the charts completely because they’re often wrong by 1-2 inches.

  2. Kathleen says:

    You know, that’s a very good point! About 10 years ago, I bought a pair of Levi 501’s (by mail) that were a size 28″ waist but they were way too small (I had a 27″ waist then). They didn’t fit me until I had a 25″ waist!

    Where does the insanity end?

  3. Saar says:

    To JJ,
    so you went on a diet, to loose 2″ until you can fit a jeans you bought 10 years ago ? :-P

    Yes, sizing and fitting are a burden. There are so many sizing surveys and the conclusion is 1: Human body is changing – and increasing in dimensions : where as the manufacturers haven’t updated their measurments a bit.

    Just my penny

  4. Carol Kimball says:

    With many manufacturers, there is up to 2″ variation per size, which is why six pair of “identical” pants may each fit differently. Anyone in the business want to comment on tolerances? Yours vs. a lot of what’s out there?

  5. Kathleen says:

    Carol, I’m not denying there’s a 2″ variation but that’s just flat out intolerable. Actually, the only time I see that is when a manufacturer (Levi’s is a good example in this case) jobs out the same style across several different contractors. Typically the differences occur because -in this case- Levi’s doesn’t provide a pattern to each contractor but rather, leaves it up to each contractor to develop their own pattern “according” to specs. Don’t get me started on the wastefulness of this practice! Then, the other factor affecting sizing differences is the fabric, which again, Levi’s relies on the contractor sourcing locally (cost you know) and the shrinkage variations. Lastly, has the waistband been cut correctly?

  6. big Irv says:

    As a contractor, we are given tolerances on waistbands of no more than 1/2 inch. Some even specify 1/4 inch. Same with rises. A 2 inch difference in spec will result in a whopping chargeback to the contractor if the spec has not been followed. Some brands will immediately deem these out of spec styles as seconds. Some obviously don’t care.

  7. jj says:

    Hmmm… Big Irv your comments indicate that part of the problem is that the manufacturers are not updating the sizing charts they provide to us consumers to be consistent with the sizing charts they provide the contractors. Interesting.

    And Saar, you’re misreading who made which comment. If I mistakenly purchase something that doesn’t fit correctly, it goes straight back to the store… I don’t have room in my closet for ill fitting garmets.

  8. Cymru Llewes says:

    At the moment, I’m wearing a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans size 10 that I bought from Ross 2.5 years ago. Yesterday, I was wearing a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans size 6 that I bought at CostCo 3 weeks ago. I weigh more now than I did then but more of it is muscle so I’m still the same size as evidenced by an older pair of Bonjour jeans size 8 that still fit the same way as when I bought them 12 years ago (they’re finally giving way at the knee.)

  9. teri says:

    ugh! sizing charts are a pet peeve. i am a bit bigger/heavier now than i was 20 yrs ago, but i wear much smaller size. being very petite with very few petite departments locally, i have to order on line frequently. like a good little girl, i compare the charts to my measurements….which are accurate and honest. when the garment arrives, it is huge!! what’s a girl to do?!?!

  10. Cathy says:

    Can someone tell me why I have clothes in my closet from 10 years ago that are all a size 10 petite and they all fit comfortably. But now when I go into a store, I wear a 14 petite, which just fit. Same with Talbots. A little over 5 years ago I purchases several thousand dollars of clothes – all a size 10 petite. They all fit well. I just went to Talbots about a month ago and again am in a size 14. Why is that. Is it because they have come out with Women’s sizes which cost more? Are the clothing companies pushing women into women’s sizing for more money?

  11. Lisa says:

    I agree with Cathy. I bought a pair of Gloria Vandebilt Amanda jeans and found that for the last three years I was wearing a 10 and it fit PERFECTLY. I still wear them but have needed a new pair in the last year. I went to buy another pair, same style, same size, and the same size doesn’t fit. The size up from that doesn’t fit, and two sizes up don’t fit either. The waist is lower and the waist doesn’t fit…why is a company so stupid to change the sizing that a woman can’t fit into the same style jeans (Amanda jeans by GV) they’ve been making for YEARS. To give a woman the idea that she is FATTER than she is because she has to go up TWO sizes in the same style jeans makes no sense.

    Gloria has been sold to JONES NY so that might be the case. But then change the NAME of the STYLE of jeans. You can’t call it Amanda and change the waist size. Even when my jeans are TIGHT right out of the dryer, they still fit. I can still zipper them. You can’t complain though either on line because there isn’t an option. Which means GV and Jones don’t care about their customers. I’ll be searching for another pair of jeans by a different maker now. Sadly disappointed!

  12. Linda says:

    How willing one is to go up 2 or more sizes may have nothing to do with vanity. Often one can’t go up more than one size, as the necklines and shoulders will be way too big.

  13. Linda says:

    A comment about Amanda jeans. I wear them, too, but will only buy the ones made in Sri Lanka. The ones from Cambodia aren’t too bad. Most of those made in the Middle East have been cut with camel toes, a la Kathleen’s description of changes made during cutting to save fabric (shaving off crotch points, adding to the side hip to maintain hip measurement requirements).

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