Content warning: we’re going to talk about measurements and apparel sizing today. 💖
Some people buy clothes through visiting stores and trying on a variety of garments until they find pieces that fit and feel good. Most of us (including 68% of American women) can’t always do that, because most stores don’t carry clothing larger than a size 14. That turns many of us to buying online, which is fraught with frustration: ordering pieces, waiting for them to arrive, trying them on, and if we’re unlucky, sending those pieces back and going through the whole process again.
It is because of this process that we say numbers are power. It’s possible to reduce that frustration! If you know your measurements, that is.
Feeling a little nervous? That’s okay! Let’s take a deep breath while I emphasize two very important facts:
- You are beautiful. Your body is perfect, exactly as it is right now. It will inevitably change, and that’s because it adapts for where you are at that moment.
- Your worth is not measured by numbers. The numbers that we discuss today are meant to help you find clothes that fit your body. Properly fitting clothes make us confident and feel strong; ill-fitting clothes distract and hurt us.
Once more, with feeling: your inherent worth as a human being has absolutely nothing to do with the numbers on a measuring tape, the reading on a scale, or the size tag on your clothing.
Now for another fact: size charts are rough.
They’re hard to make, they’re tricky to read, and using them is uncomfortable - because it means we have to know our body measurements. This last point is particularly excruciating, because our fatphobic society has made us nervous and uncomfortable about measuring ourselves.
Yet measurements are the best tool you have for getting clothes that fit with as little hassle as possible. The good news is that you don’t have to tell anyone your numbers, and you don’t have to look at them every day. (And it’s 100% okay to tear the size tag off your clothes!)
When buying clothes online, at a minimum you need to know your bust, waist, and hip measurements. (We have a body-friendly video on how to measure your waist and hip measurements on our blog!) Then take those numbers and compare them to the size chart for whatever brand you’re buying from. If you’re between sizes, you’ll generally want to size up for a looser fit or size down for a tighter fit. And don’t hesitate to reach out to customer support for more information - they’re there to help!
As you buy from brands with your measurements, you might notice a super frustrating pattern: maybe you’re a size X in one brand, but suddenly you’re a size Y in another brand. Your closet might even already have 4-5 different sizes inside from different brands, even if all the clothes fit you the same way.
This does not reflect upon your size, but the size charts being used. Ask any brand owner, retailer, or customer, and we will all agree - size charts are inconsistent across the board. Similar measurements rarely mean the same size across brands. One brand’s 2XL could be another brand’s 14. You could be a size 20 in the brand that makes your favorite jeans, but a size 24 in the brand that makes your favorite hiking pants. Sometimes, the same company will have different fitting sizes.
In a world where society wants us to think our inherent worth is based on the number on the size tag, this can and will feel really bad. (Please go back to fact #2 above.)
So why can’t brands all come together and agree that a size X means a waist measurement of A and a hip measurement of B?!
It would be super convenient: you could go to any brand, pick out your size, and know that it’ll fit you perfectly. Would that we could live in that world. Unfortunately, on a planet of diverse humans with different bodies of a variety of shapes and sizes, a single size chart across all brands says that only one body shape is acceptable. And anyone who doesn’t fit that shape is out of luck.
Sizing standardization, at its core, rejects diversity. If we want to celebrate and encourage diversity, we thus have to accept that sizing standardization isn’t going to happen.
What about “true to size”?
The term “true to size” needs to mean true to the size chart, not to some impossible industry standard that perpetuates the exclusion of humans based on their size and shape. If you use your measurements to order from a brand based on their size chart and the clothes don’t fit - that’s an issue the brand needs to know about and fix.
Wow, sizing is a really tricky problem.
You bet it is! We at Alpine Parrot fully accept that our size charts might not match the size charts of other brands. Furthermore, I strongly encourage you to raise an eyebrow to any brand that claims that their size chart matches any sort of “industry standard” - because there isn’t one.
We’ve worked really hard to make a size chart that reflects the great fit that we provide. When you order clothes from us, we strongly encourage you to use your measurements to pick the size that fits you as you are now. If you’re a size 14 or larger and we don’t carry your size yet, please reach out to us! We’re working on adding more sizes as quickly as we can.