Sunday, January 3, 2010

Vanity inches?

One thing I have a hard time wrapping my head around is certain women's obsession with clothing sizes. Being able to announce to the whole world that you are "a size 2" seems to be the ultimate proof of success in terms of beauty, fitness and self-control among those for whom a random number on a tag carries more weight (no pun intended) than actual measurements.... not to mention than your mirror image.

Let me get this straight. There is:

1. Size 2, height 5 ft.
2. Size 2, height 6 ft.
3. Designer garment size 2.
4. GAP / Old Navy / Strawberry etc size 2.
5. Athletic size 2.
6. Muffin top size 2.
7. Swimsuit model size 2.
8. Cellulite size 2.
9. Pear-shaped size 2.
10. Bean pole size 2.
11. Hourglass size 2.
12. Sturdy size 2.

See my point?! Height, shape, body composition and the actual fit of a garment are what matters, not a number on a tag that no-one ever sees anyway! This goes for all clothing sizes, by the way! Nevertheless, women seem to be continuously fascinated with being a size 0, 2, 4, 6... take your pick. And never missing out on a chance to capitalize on customers' insecurity, retailers have adapted (as we all know) by simply increasing the dimensions of nominal clothing sizes, thus providing instant gratification to ladies who want to appear slimmer but won't lay off the cupcakes.

This is the main reason why shopping online sucks so bad - I always factor in a couple of trips back and forth to UPS (which is all the way in no man's land on the Hudson, north of TriBeCa, west of SoHo and south of the West Village... not exactly a dream location for those of us who live crosstown) to receive and return, and receive and return until I finally get the size of my purchase right. Fortunately, most respectable online boutiques provide sizing charts, meaning your order is fail-proof as long as you know your bust, waist and hip (that would be seat, and not hip bone) measurements... and do I know mine, or what? Thanks to my job, I could probably recite them in my sleep.

Hence, I figured ordering my latest Lilly Pulitzer sale find would be painless and easy (right: Lilly Pulitzer Rawley beaded linen dress with scalloped hem). According to the size chart, a 2 corresponded to measurements 32-25-35 and a 4 to 33.5-26-36. Realizing the smaller size would probably make me look like a stuffed sausage (my numbers are 33.5-25.5-35.5), I went ahead and ordered a 4. Big mistake! When said garment arrived, I found myself literally swimming in it. In fact, after I'd suffered through a couple of returns back and forth as well as a lot of yapping on the phone with customer service, my boyfriend now says even the 2 looks too roomy for my frame (and remember I am 5'9"... if the frock is big on me, it must fit a shorter girl with my measurements like a tent!). Well, I suppose that was bound to happen, considering all the crosstown walking I was forced to do, in order to ship and receive from UPS - it probably made me shed enough weight to fit into a 0! Too bad that size was sold out... and now I can definitely see why.

But seriously? I am familiar with vanity sizes.... but vanity inches? Is this a new sneaky trick used by clothing manufacturers to flatter us and make us believe we are skinnier than the scale and measuring tape are telling us? Inflation of inches rather than clothing sizes?! If so, I hope they stop their experiment ASAP because I found it mad annoying!

To wrap up before this gets too long: on another note, if anyone who's been following my blog for a while is wondering what a less-is-more maniac like yours truly was thinking buying a crazy hot pink, covered-in-beads dress like this one... well, let's just say it's not exactly Lady Gaga garb, so I think I'll be fine! I'm planning to wear it with an old South Sea pearl bracelet, this cute vintage purse from Tillery (left) and some sort of preppy footwear that I will decide on once it gets warmer outside. The Coral Me Crazy flat in oyster by Lilly Pulitzer (right) is indeed a hot candidate... but then, of course, I would have to make my purchase in an actual boutique, rather than online. Or else, the UPS guys will start thinking I have a serious crush on them.


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P.S. 1) Let's not make the comment field into an "I'm a size this and that" contest... I was just bringing up my measurements to illustrate how retarded the size hysteria has become, and how little this particular store's sizing chart did for me. Thanks and love you all, xoxoxo.

P.S. 2) A certain female celebrity inspired this post... but I'm going to behave like a lady and not mention her name. :)

86 comments:

  1. I have to say this... please even if you said that this is not a "I'm a size this or that" contest... give me this chance to say this... I was/ am/ never in the near future a SIZE 2. There I said it. I wish I am though. Hahaha!

    But I know what you mean, I have some favorite retailers Mango and Zara, and I noticed that they adjusted their sizing to flatter the customers. I know that they're fooling me, I am not even a size 4 so how on earth did I fit in a size 4 or Small size when I haven't changed my body frame in years?

    It all boils down to "are you going to be tricked into believing that you are small" when in fact it's just the sizing? Not this "old" hag here, I know my size and I ain't small. Hahaha!

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  2. great post! i HATE when this happens..or when it happens the other way around and it's way too tight. i wish sizing was *somewhat* consistent

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  3. Ugh I hate online shopping. I'm literally three different sizes depending on the brand. It's a nightmare.
    You're absolutely right though. Size is just a number. I know some gorgeous woman with amazing, sexy bodies who are a size 8 or size 10. No one would dare call them fat. Body types are different, that's all. Putting a number to your body and being proud of it is just ridiculous. You should just be proud of your body. :)

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  4. Vanity inches...oh, how I abhor such a thing! I swear, I've had to return so many things, and have so many items tailored, I could have bought a new wardrobe with shipping costs alone! I just wish companies would stick to normal sizing and be done with it!! Amazing post my love!! :)

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  5. I swear the sizing charts are all off as well. online shopping is just a big gamble but it's so fun getting the packages! love this article though!
    xoxo
    red sole diary

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  6. Thank you for writing about this issue. It's a good start to the new decade. In my opinion anybody who wears size 2 anything and is taller than 5' 0" tall is just too skinny. Yes, shape matters a lot, but there are people literally dying of anorexia and bulimia because they tried so hard to achieve the very warped image of beauty that designers have mindlessly followed like lemmings ever since "Twiggy" made a splash on the fashion scene. I think that fad has lingered long enough. It's time we distracted designers from their expensive wine long enough to get them to realize that.

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  7. I think this is a great analysis of the fashion and garment industry. What does it say about our society, that stores will sell clothes with inaccurate measurements to seduce people into thinking they're smaller than they really are? Beauty happens at every size.

    One of my tangential rants is the current trend of calling curvy women "real women." To me that's just as alienating as calling curvy women plus sized. All women are real women; your measurements have nothing to do with it.

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  8. nice blog, this was a very interesting post!

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  9. So true regarding sizing and the actual person - I waste so much time trying to get people to understand that sizing is irrelevant and fit is everything!

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  10. great post. i think it's so easy to get caught up in clothes sizes instead of just wearing what fits and looks good regardless of what size it is.

    I could wear size 2 jeans - there meant to just cover your ankle, right? :)

    Missy
    For all things fashion:
    http://thefashionfusion.blogspot.com

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  11. I like your point. I have the same problem when shopping online.

    xoxo
    B* a la Moda

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  12. nice post...make me think about that nd you are quite right ^.^
    kisses

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  13. ahahha oooooh youre no fun - spill the name!! you are tooo good of a person ;)

    i feel seriously schizophrenic with store sizes, one day im a 10, sometime a 12, sometimes an 8, sometimes a 14 (ahah british sizes, before people start thinking im morbidly obese) - why cant there just be one standard size and everyone sticks to it??! i guess shops think that if you fit into a smaller size in their clothes youll keep shopping there becuase youll like feeling skinny.

    i think im just going to start wearing bedsheets. one size fits all ;)

    sugar
    xoxo

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  14. i really am not a fan of shopping for clothes online - that sizing issue is the top reason why. but i have to say, i'm a big fan of having clothes fit properly. buy bigger and have it tailored to fir. a good seamstress or tailor is golden

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  15. good post.

    i understand your view.

    by the way the flats are wunderful

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  16. I love this post! I think the most important is to find a great fit no matter the size :)
    By the way, I’m hosting a fabulous giveaway! Come visit my blog for details :)
    Have a lovely day!
    Xoxo
    Giovanna
    ❉ ✿ ✿ ❉
    www.bohomarket.blogspot.com

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  17. Buying clothes online is too time consuming! I never get my size right. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  18. All true. I think, even within certain stores, sizes change from season to season. It's a complete crapshoot!

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  19. Great post...I get a lot of women who come into my store to try on vintage Levi's only to find they have to go up three sizes to get a snug fit and four or five to get a looser boyfriend style fit. The look on their faces is priceless. I can't tell you how many times I have to convince them it's JUST A NUMBER...geezus!

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  20. I hate that size hysteria too. Each one of us is unique and we have to love ourselves no matter what. Your post was great!

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  21. great post, darling- as always!
    have a sweet day, xoxo

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  22. the industry has changed the sizing chart to fatter women nowadays. i have came in size but i didn't change. in the end, it's health that is more important. if you feel good then you will look great.

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  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  24. I was typing too fast for my brain. I meant to say flatter and i have came down in size but i didn't change in weight.

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  25. I agree with this post! I always find it so hard to find something in my size that fits. Height is another hard factor when buying clothes (I'm short so everything is usually too long for me).
    I do really hate the fact that all shops have different sizings. It makes shopping so much harder.

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  26. Great post I love a rant! I just dont see why they cant put the exact measurements for every garment style, as we all know even in one store all the sizes can vary between styles. Oh and my advise to the ladies who obsess over size - cut out the damn lable!! Oh and what about shoes, are they adding vanity inches too xx

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  27. Thank you! You are making the world a better place with a post like this.

    xoxo Mish

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  28. ROFL ROFL ROFL!!! I feel so bad for women, but I believe this "vanity inches" trends has moved over into menswear. As I have recently begun to really buy to fit my measurements, I am finding an extreme amount of variance in M-L. Not cool at all. Don't sweat the shipping... it sux for everyone, not just you! And I'm certain the UPS guys are delighted to see you, anyway. lol

    +8!3

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  29. ugh i'm totally with you.. the vanity sizing these days are terrible.. brands that i used to fit.. no longer do.. etc, etc. and online shopping is almost a never fit. so much saddings!

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  30. So it IS true that height makes a difference! I've been amused -- in light of people's hysteria over the thinness of runway models -- that I can often squeeze into samples and I've gotten my shorter friends in samples too, after they SWORE they would never fit. I assumed that this had to do with the height difference of model vs civilian though I never knew for sure. But a dress designed for a 6' model clearly has enough extra inches in height to somehow accommodate a 5'4" person (me) who is greater in width, right? Ha!

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  31. I'm just 14 and already I see people getting obsessed about if they aren't a size extra-small they are considered fat.

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  32. I do very little shopping by mail for just this reason. Everybody's sizes are different and I don't want to pay shipping 10x's. :O)

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  33. So so great post !
    And happy new year !
    http://mimietnini.canalblog.com/

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  34. Btw, this is so strange for me.. I have a 34 (Spain) and a 24-25 (Uk) but I don't know if I'm a size 2 or.. hahah I don't understand these sizes!
    x

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  35. I linked you in today's blog!

    I shop online a lot...but I usually stick with brands I know. If I'm going to buy a dress or something, I go to the store for the very reasons you mentioned. I worked in a store once where a co-worker was giving a lecture to women in the plus-size department. "Cut the size tag out, ladies!" she was shouting. "But quit trying to squeeze into clothes that are too small for you. Nobody sees the size tag but you." I thought "Amen!"

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  36. I am SO with you, darling! Size matters, as they say, but it can be so variable!

    xoxox,
    CC

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  37. this just happened to me too. i got a moto jacket online and my 4'11 frame didn't fit it. disappointing. o wells.

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  38. sizes are so different depending on the designer ;)

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  39. ha! I LOVE THIS!!! "STURDY SIZE 2"
    AMAZING!

    XOXO

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  40. I agree, size is useless, fit is everything! xo

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  41. I'm with you! I hate shopping on line mostly for fear it will be too tight but either way size shouldn't matter. xoxo

    SC

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  42. I'm a designer and don't usually go by sizes at all. I have a size chart with guidelines. Mostly I go by my clients measurements . . . No two women are the same . . .

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  43. I see it happening with women's clothes, but sometimes I feel men's clothes are the same too. It's the same reason why I don't like making purchases online.

    -Jason

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  44. I totally agree.. the number shouldn't mean anything and then everything gets inflated to help people's egos, which hurts everyone else that use to be that real measurement and now its so fricken hard to find anything in your size! i totally run into this problem all the time esp being only 5'1! i mean everything is a challenge to find something to fit my frame perfectly and number size increases totally do not help!!

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  45. You're so right. I love this post. If the tag matters so much, cut it off! And yes, I've noticed how stores have started creating sizes like XXS - XXS is an XS... in 'help me i'm insecure' terms!!!!

    Anyways, I hope you've had a wonderful new year!!! :) xoxo

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  46. great post! size charts are never accurate. i know you said that you don't want the comments to turn into a whole "well, i'm a size ____" thing, but i'm tiny. i'm 5 feet tall and weigh less than 100 pounds. i'm athletic, have a tiny waist, no hips, and no butt. it is almost impossible for me to find pants that fit, and the discrepancy between sizes and brands doesn't help one bit. obviously i'm frustrated... haha

    xx

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  47. Ahh sizing. I had such difficulties with it in middle and school and even all they way into high school. Now I kind of... just don't care. I try on clothes and I know my skinny friends have just as many shopping obstacles as I do. There's just too much more to life than worrying about my size! And hey if it looks good, why not?!

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  48. Great Blog! It would be nice if there was consistency but there isn't. Women just have to learn to be happy with what they have and know that the # really doesn't matter. What matters is how you look. It took me awhile to understand that squeezing into a size 8 when I'm a 12 doesn't look nearly as good as wearing clothes that fit.

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  49. OMG, the whole size thing is ridiculous when it comes to clothing! I mean, REALLY.

    And not only are sizes growing to make women feel better about themselves, but I swear that some bra sizes are getting slightly smaller for the same reason! That way, women can be happy because now they're a cup size larger (I've definitely seen it...it's absurd).

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  50. Honestly, what a great post. I have been so frustrated with this exact same issue for years now. The mega-retailers (Gap, Zara, Mango, etc) have all fallen into the vanity sizing and vanity inches thing for the past couple of years and it makes me really angry. As someone who is petite but with long arms, its virtually impossible to find things that truly fit. And being on a budget too, I cannot afford to run to the tailor for every garment that I buy. It is truly frustrating, but I truly think that if people weren't so obsessed with numbers on a tag to begin with, this might never have happened. Bring back the true to size garments!
    -Marz

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  51. Hi Carrie!

    It's like you read my mind each time! Frankly, I don't order anything but ballet CDs from the net because there's no confusion about height or weight!

    I have a veeeery weird body as well, so it's really much better for me to actually fit the object of desire. The sad part about this is the shops and hence commodities in Manila are quite limited so I have to wait 'til I leave the country to get whatever it is I want. Absolutely a case of Catch 22!

    PS You're 5'9"! I knew you were modelesque in height!

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  52. Yes, I totally agree with you... Especially when buying clothes online, I never simply trust the sizes. I would read the measurement information first, and see how I fit within the size provided. My body fits different sizes among different brands; for example I'm a size XS in Banana Republic but a size Medium in BCBG. So extra caution is always needed for me, especially when buying garments online.

    Also, I heard somewhere that clothing sizes change/evolve every decade... I wonder how true this is...

    Farrah
    WWW.DISTRIKMODE.COM

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  53. This was an AWESOME post.

    I think you pretty much broke it down why the number factor doesn't really matter as long as the fit is proper (ps - Muffin top size 2..you kill me!).

    I am a fan of Lilly Pulitzer as well and her clothes do run on the larger side (I missed out on a gorgeous pair of her wedges @ tjmaxx - dammit!)

    And, I am in complete agreement with you on returns (most of mine are done at USPS and I HATE going there, whether its the Grand Central or 34th locations - both are evil as hell..)

    I miss Bluefly's DHL pickups!

    XOXO
    Amy

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  54. great post dear,people are obsessed with sizes...I usually order bigger sizes just to be sure:)

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  55. i know what you mean! making a big deal about your clothing sizes is ridiculous! come on, it's just a stupid tag; it varies from designer to designer

    http://pinkchampagnefashion.blogspot.com/

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  56. I don't ever buy clothes online anymore, unless I know the brand's sizing very well. Just too much of a hassle, the only thing I get are accessories or shoes (thankfully vanity sizing hasn't extended to footwear yet). It's just annoying that the majority of the high street needs to use vanity sizing. I think it's why people get such a shock when they start getting designer gear... everyone will say "oh, but Rick Owens runs small". It doesn't really.... it's just the true sizing, because designers never felt the need to cater to the vanity sizers. I also know plenty of people who prefer to size up for the slouchy look (it's a Parisian thing), which I find very refreshing. As you said, the only person who's going to know what size you're wearing is you.

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  57. I'm with you! I wish they were standard across the board.

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  58. Oh?? I guess you didn't want to know that I'm a size 0??? Just kidding!! Honestly, I've stopped thinking and talking sizes. I look good and I feel good and that's all that matters. And girl, when can I start leaving you comments linking to my main blog, not my secondary one?
    Anyway, visit me at www.angiemuresan.com

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  59. great post! this is what i've been telling my friends all the time haha

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  60. 1) Yes, it makes me confused that though my figure hasn't changed much in the last 20 years I seem to have shrunken... and although I know it's bullshit I'm flattered (silly, silly me!) 2) Totally agree, buying online is difficult - especially trousers, I find. When I have found a designer that fits I often stick to them - just to save me the UPS back and forth (though the guys might be cute and we could call it 'The UPS Diet'). Sabine x

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  61. you are SO right about the different size 2s! wow, never thought about how many variations.
    btw, the little pic posted at the top reminds me of the patterns my grandma used to buy to make my dresses...so nostalgic.
    xox alison

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  62. ah how i missed your awesomely insightful posts! glad to be back to blogging :)

    myglitteringcreation.blogspot.com

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  63. Vanity sizing exists for sure. It's amazing how your size can be radically different between brands, just based on how they alter their sizes.

    I also enjoyed your last post on SATC. No matter how different the direction of plot seems to be, I think we'll keep coming back, as you mentioned, to our old "friend" Carrie.
    -Tawney

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  64. great post!!! It's all too too true


    xo,
    owl wings

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  65. I wish we can borrow each other's clothes... but I'm way much bigger than you. And you are way much taller than me. Hahaha! Love yah M.

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  66. Great point and post! Online shopping is such a gamble. Its so odd that from store to store sized range drastically as well. ugh!

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  67. Now this is why I don't particularly like online shopping.
    Sometimes shops just seem to put odd sizes on garments! I try not to think about the number and go on the fit, it's really best to pay much attention to it except for a general guide when picking garments off the rack.

    What a sweet little bag that is!

    Florrie x

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  68. oh the media can persuade us to consume in such tricky ways. you can be very bold with fashion issues and i just adore how you write this blog (: cheers for the new year

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  69. Dear Couture Cookie - Just FYI, I was tagged and asked to tag my favourite blogs, so I had to mention you (naturally). Sabine x

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  70. i totally hear you on this issue and i'm glad you brought this up since i completely share your frustration. that's why i love dove's champagne

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  71. Great post and point! Happy Weekend, Crystal

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  72. I agree! Numbers shouldn't mean anything to anyone. I remember being shocked when I learned Victoria Secret's did the same thing with their bras. So that an A cup at VS would be close to a C at most European lingerie boutiques.

    Hope you are having a great weekend, CC!

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  73. I completely agree with you.
    I'm glad as a guy I don't have that many problems figuring out my size when it comes to clothes!


    www.thestarvingstylist.com

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  74. Love the vintage pattern Miss Couture, we have a basement filled with them. (It is really very frightening. Sigh.) This topic is such a hot button for us, the insanity of it all continues to amaze, it has shown no sign of lessening!

    Hope you have a stellar week!
    tp

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  75. I agree, it really bugs me. I also hate when ordering online and the sizing gets all messed up.

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  76. This is a great post! I agree....so many varieties. For example, a size 2 at height 5'2" is completely different than a size 2 at 5'6"! There is great variety in women's bodies...

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  77. gah clothes and numbers are enemies !! :S
    i agree!!


    www.thecatwalkcloset.com

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  78. I agree! I am not a skinny girl.. sometimes I wish I was and sometimes I don't care.. either way a particular size doesn't define beauty.. I have seen awful looking size 8's and stunning size 16's ... we need to stop obsessing over tags...

    www.spoiltforstyle.blogspot.com

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  79. Everywhere I go, I'm a different size. I guess once you find a brand or two or three that fit your body type well, i'd stick to that. Great post, thank you for sharing. Love that yellow bird bag too :D

    *XO*
    Jessica

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  80. love that pattern bag!
    fantastic selection!
    http://www.twolia.com/blogs/teacups-and-couture

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