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What Up, Size?

March 8th, 2012 by Selise

I had planned on taking pictures of the size tags in my clothes. Turns out I’ve cut most of them out. So I took a picture of a tape measure against a rad skull scarf instead. It’s practically the same thing, right? (I know, it’s totally not. Unless I wanted to get crazy deep and talk about our skeletons and maybe how the media is making us waste away and stuff. But I’m not going to.)

OK, here’s how this whole thing came about. The other day I bought a size XS dress. 

Actually, wait, that’s not entirely how the idea for this post came about. I’m gonna be honest with you guys. And it might be a little embarassing. For me, not you, don’t worry.

So…a couple of weeks back I bought some underwear on sale. Same as I always get. (When you find some you like, STOCK UP! Seriously I’ve got, like, 14 pairs. At least.) Anyway, I always get these in a large, right? (More on that in a minute). So I buy 2 pairs in large. A few days later I go to put a pair of them on and think, “Hmmm, they seem a little smaller than usual“. And sure enough, they’re a size small. 

The swing tag said large but the inside tag said small. Note to self: check both next time!

But what do I do? I’ve already cut the tags off and washed them. Besides they were down to, like, $1.45 or something ridiculous. So I put them on (I tried writing “popped” and “whacked” but turns out you only ever “put” underwear on). And you know what? They fit.

Now, this is probably not revolutionary to you. In fact, you’re probably wondering why I felt the need to broadcast my underwear habits to the world. And believe me! I’d rather not! I’m a private person (aside from posting outfits for the entire world to see, obviously) and generally do not go about dishing on my smalls. But it was one of those “Whoa” moments for me. And I’ll tell you why.

Like I said before, I always buy my underwear in large. And same goes for my clothing, I always err on the side of bigger. Mostly this is because I prefer things that “don’t touch me” (which is probably partially because I live in Queensland – “Hi, heat and humidity. Why you guys gotta be around all the time?”) but if we’re being honest, it’s also because I think I’m bigger than I am. And it took a pair of size small undies to show me that.

Now back to that size XS dress I bought recently. XS? Yup. I don’t know why I even took it into the change room (Actually I do – it was on sale (of course) and the only size there). But it fit. And it looked good. And I bought it.

The thing is, that same month I also bought a pair of jean shorts. Size 16 (also on crazy sale, of course). Which also fit (albeit a touch big but not falling off or anything).

How is it I can fit both an XS and a size 16? 

You know how I said I always err on the side of bigger? Well, you know what happens as a result? You wind up believing you’re bigger than you actually are. 

A drawer full of size 16 shorts makes me think I’m a size 16. 

Which I’m not. I know I’m not. But I don’t really know, I’m not (you know?)

So I’ve started doing a little experiment lately. I bring a smaller size into the fitting room. Where I would usually grab a size 12 T-shirt, I grab a size 10. And you know what? Yup, they fit. It’s a revelation. It’s like all along I had this body and I didn’t know.

And what I’ve taken from this whole thing, and I’d love you guys to as well, is this:

Those tags? Don’t matter. Seriously. The only thing they do is assign you a number that you think defines you. 

That number? Doesn’t mean shit. 

If I can be anything from an XS to a 16, then what number am I? 

Scarf: Dotti
Tape measure: Lincraft

24 Responses

  1. ShyScout says:

    Numbers don't mean a thing. Agreed!! That is so awesome though that you found out sizes that are fitting you better. I hate how they randomly assign sizes. It seems like every brand is different and it gets so damn confusing and sometimes frustrating. But your clothing size should never define you :]

  2. Laura says:

    I know what you mean about sizes, it is so true! My clothes range from XS to L, 6 to 14. ok, so most of the 14/ large are too big in the bust, but some of them aren't. Sizes are just so not standard, it is maddening! Because I shop in op shops, I mostly just have one size to try on, but if i am ever in a stroe with more than one size i go crazy trying them on and comparing them for like 10 min straight, trying to work out to go for looser or tighter.

    Very inspiring article! I wish more people realised this!

  3. Lola says:

    yeah, it all differs from shop to shop, so annoying, right? xx

  4. Megan says:

    Oh definitely, size does not matter. I'm glad you've started grabbing smaller sizes and realizing that you don't need to adhere to a certain number.

    I thrift a lot and I will try on everything in all shapes/sizes. I have some things hanging in my closet that are a 0, some are a 16, some a S and some an XL. I think every brand sizes differently.

  5. D says:

    Oh, how I love that skull print. I thrift quite a few of my clothes and have come to a similar conclulsion. I wear XSmall all the way through XLarge.

  6. awhite says:

    Great post- brands often alter the way sizing scales run, so a 6 in one place is a 10 or a 4 in another! It's crazy. But you're right- buy what fits, what you like, and don't worry about the number. πŸ™‚


  7. Style Servings says:

    I can't believe you fit both a large and an extra small! Very useful for the sale purchases though, doesn't matter what size it is!

    Love the inspirational message at the end, really great post!


  8. yiqin; says:

    i really think that they should just do something about the size system!

  9. Simone says:

    That is soooo true! I have dresses in S but at Zara suddenly I need size 40 (EU) what is about L. And when I need undies sometimes I need L at H&M or just S at Palmers (a famous austrian underwear shop). I also now what Laura means- comparing clothes for like 10 minutestrying to work out to go for looser or tighter. Been there, done that!
    But you are right! That numbers doesn't mean shit!

    Great post!

    Kisses from Austria,

  10. Van Helen says:

    This post is emotionally dangerous because now I'm going to take things in a size small into a change room and be really pissed off when they don't fit. I'll try not to blame you PERSONALLY… πŸ˜‰

  11. Lynika says:

    Bravo! Well said, great post! It's true sizes vary every which way in clothes and you're left bewildered as to what number you 'are' and it does happen.. you get asked, you're in a store and tell the assistant you're looking for a black dress or a pair of boot cut 'smacked up the side worn in look' jeans and they'll of course ask your size or offer their take 'Hmm you'd be what..an '#' or and '#'

    I don't really remember where I was heading to with that.. but needless to say, your post is a great liberator for those that have ever felt tethered to a 'size' by clothing tags and emotionally impacted by the number on it.

    I'm so glad you're shaking it up and enjoying smaller smalls and all other manner of sizings without the emotions that go along with them.

    And you touch on an important issue, most of us have distorted views of how we really look. It's posts from you and comments from followers like the above that can make a real difference in self-esteem and let us know we're not alone in the world of yo-yo tags and body image.

    Tks for another awesome post! Love your style and style of writing! xxx


  12. Oh my Dior! says:

    It's such a shame this things happen I'm glad you share it with us!


  13. Pop Champagne says:

    ya the tags don't matter, normally I'm a size 26 for jeans but for those rock & republic by victoria beckham i was size 28…. and versace for h&m i was size 6! they def don't keep sizing consistent

  14. Mandy says:

    Oh yay, it's so lovely to see a fellow Queenslander with a great blog! Love the vintage feel of the photos – it matches your blog theme perfectly! Your writing is also incredibly articulate, which is so refreshing to see! πŸ™‚

    In regards to this post, haha, I actually had the same problem for years! I used to always gravitate to the size 10s (not sure why … seemed like a round number? haha). It turned out that I was actually more of a size 6-8 but after all those years, it was hard to fathom the possibility that I could be so small! Aren't we such comical creatures? But, like you, I like my undies ample so that the Queensland heat doesn't get to me and will never concede to any size less than a 10. πŸ˜‰

    Thank you for your sweet comment – will be following your blog avidly! Have a great week!

    <3 Mandy xx

  15. lucillejoy says:

    Adored this post!! I get far too obsessed by what size the label says but at the end of the day, if it looks good that's all that matters isn't it!


  16. hautepinkpretty says:

    You have no idea how much I love this post. BTW you certainly do think you're bigger than you are – i would have NEVER guessed you to be a 16 or large! EVER. lol anyway, I'm a fairly small girl (not quite "petite" but, as you said, it really depends…) even still, I struggle all the time with what size I should be, but more opposite of your situation. I find myself not purchasing things that are too small only because I have too much pride to go grab the next size up. It's a complex and I need to get over it. You're right, it doesn't matter. What matters is how you feel in the clothes and how they look on, not what the tag says. I need to remind myself of this – I think it's especially hard when blogging too… but that's probably a whole'nother legnthy comment LOL i'll spare you <3 hautepinkpretty.com

  17. Maria says:

    Awesome post!! I do the same thing, such a bad habit.

    Maria @ Orchard Bloom

  18. Sarah says:

    I freakin' love this post. I've realized the same thing recently, mostly thanks to my husband. I'll grab something that is probably a bit too big for me, and he'll say "You're not that big, try this size instead." And you know what? He's almost always right, I'm not nearly as large as I think I am. So glad I'm not alone in this! lol I really wish sizes were more uniform, but what can ya do.

    Great blog, btw! πŸ™‚


  19. Flow Disruption says:

    Haha, oh my God, this post made my day!! I finally learned this in design school. I started buyin' clothes of all different sizes, just 'cause I liked the material (thinkin' I could cut 'em up or whatever) and then, most of 'em (especially dresses and skirts, 'cause I got hips) fit really well (xs-xl). πŸ˜‰ It's crazy how a number can mean so much, though. I fall into that trap sometimes, but I try and remember how trivial it really is.

    "Unless I wanted to get crazy deep and talk about our skeletons and maybe how the media is making us waste away and stuff" – haha!

  20. The Midwest Muse says:

    I love your header and your title makes me want to listen to Dashboard Confessional. I hope that's where the title is from because I love that song!

  21. Lovers, Saints & Sailors says:

    You know, I've never actually heard that song before!

    Lovers, Saints & Sailors represents a collection of things I love. The name's been around for longer than the blog. It's been my business name for going on 7 years now.

    I love my header too! Thanks so much for stopping by πŸ™‚

  22. Katherine McAdoo says:

    sizes are definitely broken! and kind of a frightening way to judge ourselves. i won't buy anything if i don't feel it's my size (yay crazy high school eating disorder rearing it's head at me 8 years down the road) and i hate the fact that i can fit in a XS to a L. how does that make sense? it doesn't. i love this post – and i'm glad you wrote it – and glad i found your blog!

    <3 katherine

  23. […] I know I’ve talked about size before. It’s like there are these momentary flashes of clarity where I realise how utterly stupid it […]

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