Intelligence: Vanity Sizing: Compare These 25 Retailers at Your Local Mall

2014-07-vanity-sizing.jpgImage via

Ah, denim shopping. The confusion, the frustration, the inevitable run for the leggings rack—there’s nothing like trying to find a pair of jeans that actually work. Every brand is different and, despite what the tag might say, no two sizes feel the same between retailers. You could be a size eight at this place, a size six at that place and a size ten somewhere else. It’s exhausting to try and keep track.

Enter the problem of vanity sizing. Popular thought has it that women (and men!) are more likely to buy certain articles of clothing if the label size is smaller than how they perceive themselves. As The New Yorker explains it, brands have simply been sizing up along with the general population of America. Whatever the reason, many brands have resorted to labeling larger waist/hip measurements as smaller sizes, hence the sizing confusion. To sort through the weirdness, we compared the measurements for a size eight at 25 of our favorite retailers to find out what an actual size eight should be—and who the worst offenders are when it comes to irregular sizing.

2014-07-dress-forms.jpgIllustration by Jenna Josepher for Racked; click to expand.

First, a short PSA: American Apparel was the only retailer we checked where a size eight was classified as a large. Be forewarned.

Out of the 25 different retailers we compared, the average measurement for a size eight was 28.9″ for the waist and 38.7″ around the hips. Surprisingly, J.Crew was one of the retailers that came closest to the average size eight, even though we’ve been wary of the brand’s strange sizing in the past.

Old Navy, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21‘s sizing was also well-aligned to the standard. The foreign retailers didn’t fare so well: Zara‘s hip measurement was oversize by over two inches, and Uniqlo’s waist size was inflated by over four inches. Looks like both companies overshot a little when attempting to change sizing to fit American customers.

Gap also skewed larger in the hip and had notably different measurements then Old Navy and Banana Republic even though all three brands fall under the Gap umbrella. But the worst offender all when it came to irregular sizing was Need Supply. Although the retailer carries denim from a host of different brands, their in-house line measured in at 31 to 32.5″ for the waist and 41 to 42.5″ for the hips. In Urban Outfitter’s BDG line, those same measurements would be considered a size 12.

Note: The 25 different retailers we compared were Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale, American Apparel, American Eagle, Ann Taylor, ASOS, Banana Republic, Club Monaco, COS, Courtshop, Express, Forever 21, Gap, H&M, J Brand Jeans, J.Crew, Madewell, Modcloth, Nasty Gal, Need Supply, Old Navy, Target, Uniqlo, Urban Outfitters, and Zara.

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