Sizing up: vanity sizes

Martii Kuznicki, Staff writer

Ladies, take a look in your closet.

Okay, maybe you’re reading this before class or in your office, but think about your closet. Think about the sizes of clothes in your closet. Chances are those sizes will vary a lot in some cases.

Welcome to the world of vanity sizing.

It’s a marketing tool used by some clothing companies to make you feel better about their clothes. It boils down to size shrinking; clothes are sized smaller to make the consumer feel better about themselves. Think about it: would you feel better in a size 10 or a size 6? How about a 4?

In some cases, those are all the same. If you’re a woman with a 30-inch waist, your jeans would be a 10/12 at The Gap. That’s a 9/10 if you’re buying jeans from luxury brand Rock & Republic. It’s between an 8 and a 10 at FCUK. It gives you a solid 10 at Target. If you’re looking for a flirty skirt, you’d be a 6 at Anne Taylor, and a 4 at Nine West; but at FCUK, that’s a size 2. Marketing gurus bet that you’ll be willing to pay a little more to feel like you weigh a little less.

While getting a smaller size that fits can do wonders for the ego, it can also make shopping more frustrating. By changing the sizes, it creates a vacuum of sorts at the low end of the spectrum; size zero didn’t exist when our parents were our age. As the small sizes get larger, even smaller sizes have to be invented.

There are critics who say that vanity sizing does not exist, that designers use models and dress forms to fit a certain silhouette to match their target market. But we can’t deny that in a culture where ultra-thin is what seems to be en vogue many women would be happy to see their victories on their labels.