Recently Chris and I were talking about how easy it is for men to pick out clothes. Obviously there are many reasons, and you can yay or nay them based on the person or your personal opinion, but the most glaring or obvious to me is that for a man a size 34 is a size 34 is a size 34. No, those are not typos. I wrote in that way for emphasis. A woman’s size 8 is not a woman’s size 8. Even within the same company a women’s size 8 is vastly different, and from company to company it is grossly different.
Chris can go into a store, not try on a single item, make a purchase and be happy. I do not have that luxury. I have to try everything on and even then I am slightly (or maybe more than slightly) indecisive about making a purchase. Sometimes the day I try something on it fits fine and when I come home and try something on a day or so later it fits differently.
Alas, the dilemma of shopping as a woman. Our conversation about clothes, sizing, and fit made me think about Marilyn Monroe. I started wondering about her and what was considered beautiful in the 1950’s. After a bit of research, what I learned was a bit mind-boggling and I think that says something about our society. You can read full details here, but in the 1950’s Marilyn was a size 12-16. I know that is a big range, but as you look at pictures (or if you were around to remember her) you would think “she was not a 12-16.” As the article states in the 1980’s, the Department of Commerce changed our sizing (umm…can we say how vain we have gotten). A size 16-18 in the 1950’s is equivalent to a size 8 today. A big difference. The article even states:
“Those measurements were 5 ft. 5.5 inches tall; 35 inch bust; 22 inch waist (approximately 2-3 inches less than the average American woman in the 1950s and 12 inches less than average today); and 35 inch hips, with a bra size of 36D.”
Marilyn had a 22 inch waist, and the average today is 35 inches. Shocking. That is a crazy difference. Regardless of all the changes to sizing from the 1950’s to today, it is still a man’s world. Most of the time a woman cannot go into a store, grab her size, pay and leave. Is it time for a size revolution?