Does Size Matter?

Posted by Jill Chivers in Fashion, Style and Shopping, Shopping Messages, Shopping Strategies, Shopping, Clothes and Emotions

Many women worry about the size in the label of the clothing they buy, and have in their wardrobes.

It’s like the size on the labels of our clothing is some kind of report card.  The bigger the number, the lower our score.

I’ve asked women at workshops, on social media, and at bubbly lunches about how they feel about the size on the label of their clothing, and the majority of women I’ve spoken to seem to care a great deal about those numbers.

They feel their size 8 clothes are somehow ‘better’ than their size 10 clothes.

I understand this.  I had a friend in college who insisted she was a size 10.  Everything she wore and purchased had to have “10” in the label.  Whether or not those clothes actually fitted her was another story.  She had some things that were so tight, she looked like a sausage stuffed into an overtight skin.

But at least they had “10” on the label.  Right?

Wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.

In this post I’d like to help you see the size/number on the labels of your clothing in a clearer, more helpful and less intense, light.

Much has been written on the sizing of women’s clothing.  One article I read stated that in the 1940s, the smallest size clothing available for purchase in stores, in the US, was a size 10.  Then in the 1950s, it was a size 8.  And now, it’s a size 00.

That same article proposed that a woman who wore a size 8 in 1950 would wear a size 00 today.  What is incredibly important to note is this: the clothes haven’t changed – they are still the same size and proportion.

The only thing that’s changed is the number in the label.


And this article was illuminating, not only by sharing that an Australian size 12 is “plus size” (good gracious – they can’t be serious with that, can they?), but that a woman who wears a standard size 12 can, in the same shopping trip, find clothes from size 10 to size 14 that fit her in the same way (ie: she isn’t squeezed into the size 10 and swimming in the size 14).

This leads me to these two bold conclusions:

Quotation-MarksThere is no consistency across labels in sizing.  What is an “8” in one label may be a “10” or a “12” in another. 


Quotation-MarksSizing in women’s clothing is almost arbitrary and mostly meaningless, and certainly not deserving of all the attention, let alone angst, so many women assign to the size on the label of their clothes.

Do I mean to say that we shouldn’t pay any attention to the size on the label of our clothes?  No, I don’t mean to say that.  Because I see at least (and potentially only) one potential use for paying attention to the size on the label of our clothes, and that has to do with our health and how good we feel in our clothes.

I know for me that when I  have put on a few pounds and my size 12 clothes are a bit firm, and I’m really only feeling good in my size 14 clothes, it’s time to have a little look at my weight (this was one of the prompts for me to lose my summer spare tyre last year), and make some changes to my lifestyle.

But I can do this confidently because I know which of my size 14 items are actually larger than my size 12 items, and it’s not just a trick of the label.

A friend was sharing with me that her 10 year old daughter is already having some “label anxiety” because she is buying some size 12 items for her.  Her daughter is concerned that there is something wrong with her (ie: she’s overweight) because she’s only 10 years old, which means she should be wearing girls size 10 clothing.  Right?

Well, no.  Not necessarily.  Some of the articles I read suggest that clothing for children and men has also changed a great deal over the decades, and is equally subject to “vanity sizing” and other vagaries of the clothing industry when it comes to its sizing policies and practices.

My policy

For me, one of the best policies I have ever instituted is to remove the size labels from my clothing.  Sometimes I remove the entire label, sometimes I just snip out the label with the size/number on it.

What this does it it allows me to enjoy the item of clothing, and how I look and feel when wearing it, rather than have any focus, let alone fixation, on the number that was once on the label.

My policy? Remove the size label from my clothes.

My policy? Remove the size label from my clothes.

My conclusions

Apart from health and wellness (both physical and emotional/psychological) considerations, I’m struggling to see any benefit or upside to paying much attention at all to the size on the label of our clothing.

We get to assign for ourselves what meaning, if any, we assign to the size/number on the label of our clothing.  We can change the meaning we place on the size/number on the label of our clothing at any time. This is not cast in stone.

Nobody else, and certainly no clothing manufacturer, has the power to  make us feel bad about ourselves without our consent because of a potentially random  number on a teensy label on the inside of the clothing.

Considerations when it comes to the size on the label of your clothes:

  1. If the number/size on the label of your clothes is important to you, ask yourself what importance it has for you, and why it’s so important?  What is this number/size telling you?  And is that actually true?  Have you been telling yourself something about the size/number on the label of your clothing, over and over, that isn’t actually true?
  2. Consider the possibility that the size/number on the labels of your clothing may be arbitrary or random.  Just imagine, let’s play pretend for just a moment, that it’s possible this is true.  What does that possibility do for how you think and feel about the number/size on the label of your clothes?  Take it a step further: What if you were to take this on board for all the sizes/numbers on the labels of your clothing?  Who or what is stopping you from assigning whatever meaning, including “absolutely none” to the size/number on the label of your clothing?
  3. If the number/size on the label of your clothing bothers you, consider removing the label entirely, or at least the size/number part of the label.  You may very well forget what number was on that label as time goes on, and you can focus on how wonderful you feel in the item and how great it makes you look – rather than a potentially random/arbitrary number that was once attached to the label.


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