What is Even up With Women’s Clothing Sizes?

Can you guess the size of these dresses as we go along? Good luck!


I recently have had the fortune (or misfortune) of needing to buy new clothes and trying to figure out what size I need in the wake of an 83 pound ongoing weight loss. Well here’s the thing… good luck with that! What I have experienced while trying on and buying new clothes is that the discrepancies in women’s sizes are even worse than I thought.

This is not a unique problem to regularly sized women’s clothes… plus sizes are guilty of the same behavior. At my heaviest I may have been a size 18W dress from Eloquii, a size medium from City Chic, a size 24W in Democracy Jeans, a size 14W dress in Calvin Klein, and a size 18 regular dress from Loft or Land’s End.

So why the variability? There are no set standards or rules for clothing makers to use. As time has progressed and beauty standards have changed, so have the sizes on our tags. As the American populace had become heavier, “vanity sizing” has taken over the market.


From a merchant standpoint this obviously makes good sense- sell women the same size clothes with a smaller label, and they will be happier and come back to you again. The classic example of Marilyn Monroe still holds true today. A postulated size 12 in her time, she could be anywhere from a size 0-8 today.

When I was shopping just recently I bought dresses in sizes 12 (Calvin Klein), 10 (Calvin Klein), 16 (Adrianna Pappell), and even size 6 (Luxology and Ronni Nicole)! I am still roughly 40 pounds heavier than I was in high school, when size 10-12 was my average size, so the fact I can wear that same size now is baffling. It is confusing and frustrating to have no idea what size clothes you will need until you try on a specific brand. Now anyone who knows me knows I love my dresses, but right now shopping is feeling a little more like work than fun! Thank goodness for online shopping with free shipping and returns! 😉😉😉

A: 14w

B: 16w

C: 14

D: 12

E: 6


  1. Paula says:

    No kidding! Women clothing sizes are crazy. I am not sure what size I am anymore. I have clothes in multiple sizes even though my weight is the same. WTW?? I now have to try on everything first. I really wish there was some standard sizing as there is with men’s clothing.


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