A rose by any other size…

By Mir
January 31, 2005

You may have noticed I’ve been doing a wee bit of shopping lately. Like most mothers, I put my children’s needs ahead of my own, often, and while they run around dressed like little Gap models, I am often still sporting the jeans I bought in college. But now that I have A JOB (did I mention I got a job? No? Well I did!) my shopping habits have changed a little bit.

Unemployed shopping: Head for the clearance rack. Look only for items I need. Agonize over price. Purchase only if 80% or more off, and under $5. Feel guilty.

Employed shopping: Head for the clearance rack. Look at anything pretty. Agonize over price. Purchase if it’s really pretty. Call girlfriend on the way home and say “Guess what I just bought!”

So I’ve acquired a few new things, and I’ve been dealing with mountains of laundry, and as a result I’ve been surveying my wardrobe. And I’ve arrived at an inescapable conclusion:

The people who determine the sizing for women’s clothing smoke a whole lotta crack.

It starts, of course, with the disparity between Misses’ sizing (even numbers) and Junior’s sizing (odd numbers). It was once explained to me that the even numbers assume curvier figures, while the odd number assume a more “willowish” shape. I don’t know when “willowish” became a synonym for “toothpick,” but I’m often out of the loop, so who knows.

Ordinarily I don’t even wander into the Juniors section, on account of I am 33 years old and it’s been a long time since I had a burning desire for a skin-tight see-through sweater that comes to just under my nipples. But during big clearance events at one of my favorite department stores, marked-down items are strewn everywhere and sometimes digging through the racks yields a great find.

So. There I was. I did my normal searching in the Misses stuff… I generally take a size small or a size 4. I’m not tiny but I’m on the small side, sure. But once I head over to Juniors, it’s a whole different ballgame. Forget smalls. Most size small shirts in the Juniors section would make silly but comfy hats, for me. I always start looking in medium, and go up from there. Last week I tried on an adorable sweater. I grabbed a medium, and I swear to you that although I was able to put it on, it cut off all circulation in my arms. I ended up purchasing a large, and seriously considering purchasing a small for Chickadee, because clearly the smalls are designed for 7-year-old girls.


In putting things away and culling out clothes I don’t wear and whatnot, my confusion only grew. Most of my tops are size small, with a few mediums and then the occasional large like the new sweater. Okay. I can deal with that. But my pants? If an alien landed here in his spaceship and dug through my pants, he would have no idea how big I was. Which I guess would be a welcome diversionary tactic if he was planning to roast me for a feast, or something.

My favorite jeans are size 4. I also have a nice pair that are size 3, in spite of the fact that I would asphyxiate and die before squeezing a single butt cheek into even a typical size 5. I have a couple of 4s that are too big, and a pair of 6s that are too small. That covers my pants drawer.

Hanging in the closet are my dressier pants. The most expensive ones are a size 2, because everyone knows that the more money you pay, the smaller your ass is. (I hope to someday be rich enough to become a size 0, wardrobe-ly speaking.) There’s a selection of 4s, and a couple of 6s. And a 7 that fits me just fine. Go figure.

I think it’s a shame that our society spawns so many young women with eating disorders. If only those girls could be taught that a little more shopping would result in the size they want to be, so much needless trauma could be avoided.

On the other hand, I just put on my size large sweater with my size 2 pants, and I think I felt something short out in my brain.


  1. Amy

    Oh, Mir. Just when I was starting to think we could be such good friends, you have to go and tell me you’re a size 4. That’s it! The whole “I like her so much” thing just went flying out the window, you skinny little bi…I’m sorry, did I type that out loud?

  2. dave

    My wardrobe – all shirts and sweaters are large. All pants are sized by waist and inseam, never varying by more than an inch. Guys have it so easy (in so many ways.)

  3. bellabelly

    I COMPLETELY understand! I just lost 75 pounds going from a size 22/24W to somewhere around a 14. (I still have a ways to go–I want to be a 6) The reason I say AROUND a 14 is because one 14 will swallow me, while another calls for assistance to get out of (I had one arm and both boobs on the verge of amputation just to get the dang dress off!).

    So, it doesn’t get any better to be a 4? The sizes are still screwy?


    But, happy shopping anyway!

  4. kim

    I hear ya girl!
    I am a plus size woman, but short. I stopped growing when i was 12, so I have the fun in trying to find clothes to fit my height (5ft) but cover the rest of me…
    Even the petite pants get 2 inches or more cut off the bottom…..
    I swear the people who make these clothes have never actually looked at a real woman, be they big or small or just right ( whatever that is)!

  5. Mary

    I swear they’re just trying to torture us all by making us spend insanely large amounts of time in flourescent-lit dressing rooms. If only I could take something off the rack, know the number meant something, and just take it home…

  6. alektra

    Sigh, I have the problem of changing sizes. So this means that I have to suck it up and TRY to figure out what size I am this week. FUN!

  7. Shiz

    I agree with Mary, it’s so frustrating. And the part about the expensive clothes is so true. Same for shoes, but not by as much, it seems.

    I had a friend who was 5’1″ and skinny, she was 90 pounds soaking wet. We went to Banana Republic once to find her some work clothes, and we loaded up on size zeros and went to the fitting room. When the clerk returned, we told her that some of teh clothes were too big, and she said, “Would you like me to find you a smaller size?” and I abruptly replied, “Smaller than ZERO?”

    She said, “Oh, uh, I guess I can’t.”

  8. Eclair

    Sizing is insane for all of us. This is why I like shopping in vintage land, where I am a god-honest size 8, sometimes more. Also, I think I have the same skinny friend as Shiz above. This 50 year old woman routinely steps out of a dressing room in size 0 hot pink guess jeans and (in front of a cue of tired shoppers), sticks her hand in the waist band to reveal 3 inches of six-pack abs while loudly announcing that “These pants are still too big!!! Is everyone around here fat now?!” We have been lynched. Twice.

  9. Rbelle

    Ack! I dread clothes shopping again after my baby is born. I know I will be way many sizes over what I was way back when. (I have a ten month old as well). I would not DREAM of even looking at the juniors department!

  10. Mamacita

    I’m trying to figure, mathematically, how many of your jeans it would take to create a pair for me, but I ran out of fingers to count on. You tiny little thing, you. I feel like a heifer now.

  11. Karin

    Clothing sizes are relative. If you’re about 5 feet or there abouts, size 4 is NOT skinny or because of an eating disorder as some people might think. I, on the other hand, would have to be on death’s door to be that skinny because I’m five foot ten. I couldn’t fit into that size if I was a toothpick. I know, because when I was very, very skinny in my high school days I was a size 6 US. And I wasn’t skinny on purpose, I just grew up before filling out.

    And yes, whoever determines how womens’ clothing should be sized is out to lunch. Being tall is not picnic, either, because if you’re tall but not long-legged there is one brand that will fit you, at least around here. That is, if you have the same shape as I do.

    Size 2? I probably fit that around the time I was five foot or five foot 4, which was around the age of 11 or 12.

  12. RockStar Mommy

    I have pants that range from size 2 to size 7 also, all which fit me pretty good. I also have a pair of 9’s which I have reserved for my “fat jeans” – You know, the bloated days where even sweatpants don’t fit quite right.
    Overall, I seem to fit in a size 4 most often. I wish designers would all just stick to a size, because it’s really irritating.

  13. Amanda B.

    “a skin-tight see-through sweater that comes to just under my nipples.”- k, i snorted coffee out of my nose on that one. :)

  14. rudolf

    What’s this about aliens getting into your pants?

    You still *fit* into the jeans you had in college. This alone is quite an accomplishment, one that I certainly do not share.

    This whole discussion makes me glad I’m a man. If the sizes were that much out of whack, since I hate shopping for clothes anyway, I would just get frustrated and go home.

  15. Suzanne

    oh…and what about the assortment of lengths? I’m a 2….long. Not a 2 short. some 2’s look like capri’s on me…so I have to resort to the stores where there is also an option for that. Jr.s size 5 fit, but are always too short! And I’m too old to dress like Britney spears!

  16. Leanne


    I do not believe that there are any bigger, better or more fully stocked clearance racks on the face of the planet.

    Who cares if your nipples show? It was only FOUR BUCKS!!

  17. Zuska

    …one additional clothing gripe that I have is that even within the offerings of ONE manufacturer, my size can change! If I can fit into Anne Taylor 8’s, why then do I sometimes have to buy 10’s? Makes me nuts.

    This post made me snort my coffee at least two times – thanks for the laugh. And Kohl’s is one of my favorite places, too.

  18. Rachael

    My clothing size varies from about a size 5-9. Why dont stores just have the same universal sizes?? I have to try on 2-3 pairs of jeans until i get the size i need. One time i even had to get an 11. What pants size should i be wearing at 5’4 1/2 weighing 125 pounds?

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