Sizing is all about marketing and in this episode you will learn a brief history of sizing which includes how vanity sizing has directly impacted the fashion world. I share my top three tips of what to do when you decide that you deserve to feel comfortable and confident in your clothing and that means going out shopping. 

I also have some great suggestions for any budget or if you have no budget at all when it comes to clothes shopping. Don’t forget, you can find more information and a full transcript of the episode at https://www.healthcoach4life.com/blog/

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Hey ladies, welcome to episode 96 of the health life and more for women podcast. I’m your host and intuitive eating counselor, Jennifer DAmato. I have had a recurring theme within my intuitive eating counseling practice. Most of my clients going in their closet and finding that their clothes don’t fit. I actually am hearing a lot of this outside of my sessions as well. Just people I chat with and converse with on social media and I myself have found this to be true. Especially coming off of last year, especially coming off of one of the most stressful years collectively we’ve been through. But also personally last year, if you’ve been following, you know, that I had what was deemed a lumpectomy, yes cancer-free, but I also had reconstruction. So my stress level last year was kind of through the roof. And I would even say that this year has been better, but not back to, let’s just say like October 2019, you know, when life felt normal. 

So what I’m hearing from a lot of women is they go into their closet and they’re just not fitting in the clothes. So they leave their closet feeling defeated, feeling tired almost. Now we can address that weight gain is normal; that your body changes. I’ve talked about that here on the podcast. However, I want to talk about what happens when you decide these clothes are no longer working for me so I’m going to go buy myself some new clothes. And what do you do when you can’t find clothes that fit when you’re out shopping? It can be one of the most frustrating experiences going out to what, it doesn’t even matter the store, believing, you know, what size you need. And not fitting in that size. Why is that? So I want to break down a few things. I want to do a brief history of sizing because actually I believe that understanding of how sizing, especially of course, just for women, is going to be our focus here, but understanding that can be really eye opening to why things are the way they are.

I specifically want to hone in on vanity sizing and what manufacturers are doing. But don’t worry by the end of this podcast, I also want to help you with, what do you do? What do you do in these situations? When you show up at a store and these clothes are not fitting you, what do you do when you know, you need to buy some new items for your closet.

So let’s dive into a brief history. Pre world war two women’s clothes were still pretty much made order custom sized, you know, but that doesn’t work when you start mass producing. So in 1939, the US government collected weight and size measurements from 15,000 women. So initially you would think, wow, that’s a pretty decent data pool, except they only used white women in the study. It also was highly favored on lower income women because they gave a small fee to the women for showing up for these measurements. However, some of those women were, you know, suffering from malnourishment. Now in 1958, this is where you see more of a formal sizing system. However again, these measurements were greatly favored on bust size.

Now, if you think about your own body and if clothing were to be determined just on your bust size, you probably find yourself laughing like that does not work. How does my bust size correlate to my hips or my thighs? It doesn’t. So what we saw in the 1970s and the 1980s was more of a universal sizing system. How, however, again, it came with great flaws. Here is where vanity sizing, as it’s labeled, came into play. So garment companies began downgrading their size labels. This is when you saw the additions of lower numbers, like a size two and a size zero. And even eventually later, what happened was a size double zero. This was vanity sizing. Where the size on the label is reduced in number to encourage customers to buy the garment. This is how you know that they market based on body image. The industry knows that we struggle as women with body image. It is an absolute marketing tool. Let me give you a really good example of how this marketing makes a difference.

So in the 1960s, the very famous Marilyn Monroe was a size 12. If she were buying clothes today, she would be buying a size six, same clothes. Very different numeric size numbers. Even more recently, the textile clothing technology corporations scanned bodies of almost 11,000 people. They were between the ages of 18 and 80. 13 locations across the country. They identified nine distinct body shapes for women. Now, what this showed was this hour glass shape that has been setting the standard for women’s clothing sizes actually only rings true for about 8% of the women. 8% of those 11,000 scanned. It’s not you. It’s not you, it’s the system. 

And lastly, Fashion brands and retailers, you know, they’re catering to not just a, a local area. It’s not a local shop. They’re catering to international, worldwide, so much diversity. However, they are focusing on certain demographics and what sells best for them. And because of that different brands owned by the same corporation, will often have inconsistent sizes within their own brand. This is why when you go shopping, you leave more frustrated than not, it’s not you. It’s the system that is flawed. 

So that leaves us with, what do you do? Because maybe you are coming off a year and the clothes in your closet are no longer working for you. You’re not leaving your closet, feeling your best and feeling confident or even maybe feeling comfortable. So if it’s available to you to go out and buy clothes that make you feel more confident that are comfortable to an on your body, what do you do? Now, before I dive into these tips of what to do, I just want to let you know, before this podcast is over, I’m going to talk about a few other options when maybe you can’t go out and buy a whole new wardrobe that that’s not available to you. And I would say that’s not available to most people. So be sure to stay tuned till the end, because I have some maybe really creative ideas you haven’t considered yet. 

So I think the first and most important tip I can give you if you’re going to go out and buy some new clothes that make you feel confident and that are comfortable, is that you plan ahead going clothes shopping cannot be treated as the same as running out to get a couple of ingredients you forgot to make dinner. One thing I can almost guarantee if you try to rush getting some new clothes is you’re going to add to your stress level. Unfortunately, like I shared the manufacturers can have different sizing for the same size numeric size, or small, medium, large within their own store. You know, we love going out to Target. Maybe we want to grab some beautiful blouses, maybe some graphic tees and some jeans. I’m telling you right now, you can grab a shirt in a large and a blouse in a large, and they’re going to fit you completely different. So I want you to set aside time, set aside time where, you know, I have an hour, I have maybe two hours to myself. So I don’t have to rush. I don’t have to add to the stress. And I don’t know about you ladies, but after 40, I get all like hot and bothered trying clothes on and off and on and off that I want to take my time. I don’t need to be a hot, sweaty mess in a target dressing room. Do you know what I mean? I hope I’m not alone in it.

Now, this really does go hand in hand with my second tip, which is grab several sizes and styles. We know that there’s going to be a discrepancy. We know that there is not a Universal sizing. It just doesn’t work that way. So I encourage you, grab a bunch. This is where you have the extra time to try them on. So maybe you found a style, grab it in two different sizes, see what fits best, what makes you feel more comfortable. And then when you have the time, you don’t have to rush, you know, pulling one off, putting another one on. So my second tip, grab a bunch. It’s okay if you fill up that cart and have to go back and forth to that cart. There is no judgment. This is for you to feel confident for you to feel comfortable. 

And lastly, you may need to do some self talk within the, this exercise that might be the first time. It might be every time that you go shopping at a store for clothes that you remind yourself, it’s not about the numeric size. You might need to go right back to this episode and go, you know what, the reason these sizes don’t line up when I went to this other store and this store, even within this store is because of the flawed system. It’s okay to remind yourself that it’s not about the size. It’s about comfort. It’s about confidence. It’s about how it fits on your body as your body is right now. So those three tips. Plan extra time. So you don’t have to rush and feel stressed. Grab several sizes and styles. And this last one is to remind yourself, it’s not about the numeric size that the flawed system is what makes you have to grab two or three different sizes in the same top. It’s okay to incorporate some positive self-talk within the context of shopping. 

So like I said, I acknowledge that not everyone can go out on a shopping spree or even go out and buy new clothes, new wardrobe, any of that. So I want to just give you a few other options that might be better for your clothing budget. So the first one is Amazon wardrobe. Now what I like with Amazon wardrobe is there are free returns on what doesn’t fit or work for you. Now, again, this might be where you are spending some more money upfront but you have the ease and maybe less stress and time to try those on at the, in the comfort of your own home.

So I’ve done this before. I’ve tested it out and I’d say I keep about 80% of what I try from Amazon. I don’t buy a ton at once. I might by two or three tops and then return what I don’t like, what doesn’t fit me well, what, I don’t feel comfortable, the fabric, et cetera. But I do love the option that there are free returns and I’m in the comfort of my own home.

Now another option. And this might be, if you have a much bigger budget or budgets not an like a consideration, you don’t have to be concerned with budget when it comes to clothes shopping is something like stitch fix. So this is where you are giving information to this program. This app, if you will. And they’re sending you clothes again, your style, your size, things that they believe you’ll like, you get to try them on in the comfort of your home. And then send back what you don’t like. And of course they can really customize the clothing that’s sent to you. Now I know other women who’ve tried this and they love it. I mean, they said they’ll never go to a store again because they really get everything they need. However, this is going to be on the higher end of your budget. A great option, if that’s an option for you. There are several companies now that offer this kind of service. So you just might want to search look at the one that seems to suit you your budget and your style best. 

So another option is to do consignment and thrift stores. Now you can do that in store. There’s so many options out there now from Goodwill to salvation army. But there’s also online options. So thread up is one of them. It’s an online consignment and thrift store. So you can even clean out your closet and post items that your selling, along with the option of going on and purchasing items. I mean, this can do double duty. You can clean out your closet of clothes that are no longer comfortable, clothes that are not fitting well, clothes that you don’t feel confident in. You can post those to these kinds of consignment sites and you can also purchase new to you clothes. What I love is you do get pictures, description, brand, name, all of that. Another sites that I’m more familiar with, it’s similar to this is Poshmark. So again, women clearing out their own closet. Putting gently used some brand new tags on can be found on these sites. So again, you’re probably wanting to give yourself some time to peruse, to read about the item, and then you can purchase a gently used item. You could actually probably for a fraction of the cost, have a fresh new wardrobe and maybe even clean out some of your clothes to put toward that purchase. 

I believe that you deserve to feel comfortable in the clothes that you wear. I believe you even deserve to feel confident in the clothes that you’re wearing. If the clothes that are in your closet right now are not doing that for you, maybe one or several of these tips and ideas will help encourage you to do some overhaul in that closet. Our bodies are meant to change. And I’m telling you under great stress from the last year plus that was inevitable. It doesn’t mean you need to try to squeeze into something or just in general, not feel good in the clothes that you have. 

If you’re going to go out and get some new or new to you clothes, I hope that this brief history of clothing sizes and this understanding of how marketing of sizes has affected the size you’re purchasing. I hope that it gives you some encouragement. This is not you. This is a flawed system. This is about marketing knowing women struggle with body image. That’s what this is about. So I hope that you can take that information. The next time you go into a dressing room and feel more empowered that it’s not about the size that you’re purchasing. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with how you feel in the clothes that you’re wearing. 

All right, ladies I am excited to tell you here at the end of episode, 96, that there’s only one more episode to season two. Next week, episode 97 is the last episode in season two before we dive into a brand new season on the podcast. Can I just take a moment before ending to say, thank you. Thank you for tuning in. Thank you for sharing the podcast. Thank you for your sweet messages on Instagram and on Facebook. I am on unbelievably grateful for each and every listener.

All right, until next week, ladies.


  1. Julie Dunn on August 31, 2021 at 8:08 AM

    My husband and I had our first date night last Friday in quite awhile. Wearing leggings wasn’t an option, but trying to find clothes that fit was a huge challenge.

    This episode was right on time, thanks Jen!

    • Profile photo of Jennifer DAmato Jennifer DAmato on August 31, 2021 at 9:13 AM

      Thank you for sharing this! I am so glad that it was right on time and hope that it helps.

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