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Thread: Fashion designers introduce less than zero sizes

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    Elite Member moomies's Avatar
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    Default Fashion designers introduce less than zero sizes

    Faith-Based Sizing

    Designers are introducing new supertiny sizes. Are American women getting smaller, or is the fashion industry messing with our minds?

    WEB EXCLUSIVE
    By Susanna Schrobsdorff
    Newsweek
    Updated: 2:09 p.m. PT Oct 18, 2006


    Oct. 18, 2006 - If you remember the days before there was a size zero, you might have to brace yourself for some unsettling fashion news: there is now a size smaller than nil. A negative size if you will. Next fall, designer Nicole Miller will introduce something tentatively called the "subzero" for women with 23˝-inch waists and 35-inch hips. And this spring, Banana Republic began offering an equally tiny "00" on its Web site.

    If you're having trouble picturing a minus-size woman, think of the waifish Spice Girl turned soccer wife Victoria Beckham who is reputed to be small enough to fit into a subzero. One newspaper compared her waist to the circumference of a soccer ball, but it might be even tinier than that—23 1/2 inches is closer to the size of the smaller soccer balls recommended for kids.
    But mini-celebs aside, does the debut of the less-than-zeros mean that a sliver of America is shrinking while the rest of our obesity-challenged country grows in girth and clothing size? Yes and no. American women are definitely getting bigger as a group. The average woman is about 155 pounds and 5 foot 4 according to SizeUSA, a 2003 survey by the industry research group [TC]˛. That's about 20 pounds heavier than the average woman of 40 years ago.
    But don't assume that the contemporary woman is wearing a bigger size than her grandmother might have. "According to standard size measurements, that average 155 pound woman should be wearing a size 16, but thanks to vanity-sizing, she's probably buying a size 10 or 12," says Jim Lovejoy, the industry director for the SizeUSA survey. "Most companies aren't using the standard ASTM [American Society for Testing and Materials] sizes any more. Sizes have been creeping up a half inch at a time so that women can fit into smaller sizes and feel good about it."
    Think of vanity-sizing as self-delusion on a mass scale. Anyone over the age of 40 knows that something isn't quite right if she can wear a smaller size now than she wore 20 years and 10 pounds ago. Yet many of us slip gratefully into a size 6 pair of Old Navy jeans even though we're pretty sure we wouldn't be able to squeeze into our size 10 Calvin Kleins from circa 1980. Call it faith-based sizing. We want to believe—hell, we really do believe—we're a size 6 or 8 because the label says so even when the scale disagrees.

    The move away from standard sizing has its disadvantages—especially for small-boned women who might be a standard size 4 but who now have to go into the negative numbers to get something that fits. Nicole Miller's spokesperson Allison Hodge says the designer created the subzero for those naturally petite women and not for 5-foot-10 14-year-old models who've dieted themselves down to a dangerously low height-to-weight ratio. "We first introduced a size 0 (25˝-inch waist) about 15 years ago because we had a strong presence in California and a lot of our Asian customers were asking for them," says Hodge. This year, the company decided to go smaller at the request of buyers who reported that women coming in for a size 0 were having to take them in.

    While it's hard to imagine that anyone wants to be called "minus" or "sub" anything, there is some concern that the less-than-zero sizes will be a new status symbol for girls with eating disorders. Last month, rail-thin models were banned from a Madrid runway show for being underweight size zeros. But despite the banishing of bony models and the disparaging headlines over photos of shrinking celebs like Kate Bosworth, it's hard to shake the impression that razor thin is still very much in vogue. Or, as Stanley Tucci's character famously said in "The Devil Wears Prada," size 6 is the new 14.
    For women of any size, this morphing measurement creep means there is no simple answer to the question: what size are you? Many of us respond: "Well, it depends...." because sizes vary wildly between brands as well as decades. A Land's End size 10 has a 30-to-31-inch waist, while a Diane von Furstenberg size 10 has a 29-inch waist. And Neiman Marcus's Web site alone has a half dozen size charts sorted by designer and other mysterious categories like "modern." (Note to male readers: If this is all getting too complicated, just ask any female friend or relative to explain.)
    On top of that, there are the variations on a single size within a brand. You can get your Gap size 8 jeans in four very different cuts from boyish to a curvy style that comes very close to the next size up. Chicos, a chain for older women, has ditched the pretense of regular sizing altogether opting for a 0-4 range where a 2 might be more like a 10 at another store, or something like that—who really knows? Then there are the humiliatingly small European sizes ranging from 34 to 44—many of which are unlikely to fit an average American woman.
    Part of the problem is that manufacturers are struggling to keep up with changing demographics and body types in the United States. The population of Asians and Hispanics continues to grow even as aging boomers have new fashion needs. "We get bigger as we get older and ethnic groups have different proportions," says Lovejoy. "Developers are trying to target their product to a particular market so the fits are going to be very different from brand to brand."

    While designers may intend to offer more choice for consumers, the end result is often utter confusion. Looking for a simple skirt and top can be incredibly frustrating for those not patient enough to try on 10 different sizes just to find the perfect fit. No wonder so few women are running Fortune 500 companies—who has time? Men, on the other hand, can usually get a decent fit in a shirt simply by having accurate neck and sleeve measurements.

    Pam Danziger, author of "Let Them Eat Cake: Marketing Luxury to the Masses as Well as the Classes" (Dearborn Trade), advocates a return to reality-based sizing using standard measurements. But even she acknowledges that getting those of us happily wearing single-digit sizes to move back to double digits is a tough sell—woe to the manufacturer who decides to tell a size 16 woman that she now has to buy a 20. "I occasionally sew my own clothes using Vogue patterns whose measurements haven't changed in decades," she says. "Of course I hate having to buy a size 14 pattern to fit my size 6 off-the-rack body. But, if we could just get over the shock of actually being a 14, maybe we could get on with our lives."
    Some companies, like Gap Inc., are trying to appeal to both the tiniest and the largest customers—who together make up a generous portion of the market. (About 12.5 percent of the women in the SizeUSA survey were 200 pounds or more while 14 percent were 115 pounds or less.) Gap introduced a size 0 in the 1990s and created a plus-size line for their Old Navy stores. Today they are using bigger-fit models—size 10 versus a size 8—for their newest brand, Forth & Towne, which is geared to boomer women. But whatever our girth, Danziger says that we'd be better off paying more attention to our BMI number (ratio of height to weight) than the numbers on our labels. "I don't think some of those Hollywood size zeros are healthy," she says. "But putting political correctness aside, neither are the women who are 200 pounds ... Obesity isn't a fashion issue, it's a national health issue."

    Women who fall somewhere in between superskinny and zaftig should take heart. If vanity downsizing continues at this pace, many of us could be wearing a subzero by 2020. Of course, we'll have to rip out the labels of those size 10s from 2006.

    source:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15319430/site/newsweek/

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    Elite Member Rondette's Avatar
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    It's madness, I tell you! I bought a Butterick pattern from 1940(ish) off Ebay, and going by the standard on the back of the pattern, I'd be a size 14 waist, and a size 20 round my hips!!! (these are uk sizes btw) But yesterday I went and bought a dress from the high street which is a size 8 and feels slightly big on me! Madness, I tell you!


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    Silver Member tofucheesecake's Avatar
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    That's so annoying and frustrating. And then the "curves are great!" advocates say "Oh, Marilyn Monroe was a size 12!" when really she was probably closer to today's size 6. Vanity sizing certainly isn't helping people learn healtheir habits, like portion control. People would be surprised how much less they could live with, and they wouldn't have to hit the gym like madwomen all the time for it, either. I wish they'd standardize women's sizes like men's, so you buy a size 34 shirt if you have a size 34 bustline or something.

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    Elite Member silver024's Avatar
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    ^^that would be nice

    most people have no clue what a portion size should be...thats how ive lost most of my weight..portion control and walking..ive lost 35lbs. Its horrible when you go out to eat..things are like 10xs the size they should be!! Its no wonder Americans are over weight. Instead of 00 or something smaller why dont they concentrate on the normal women? the ones who buy most of their clothing?? Im a size 12 now after losing weight, and thought for sure it would be easier to find a pair of jeans/pants that fit...i can not find a pair to save my life..they either fit in the hips and not the butt..or fit in the butt or not in the hips. Even when i do find a pair that i think fit good..i put them on in the morning and by the end of the day (i guess from wearing) they are sagging in my butt and thighs..i hate it!!! does anyone know of any brands that really fit well and are true to size?
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    Silver Member tofucheesecake's Avatar
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    Silver 024 - I have found that Sigrid Olson and Liz Claiborne tend to be fairly true to [current] sizes (Liz runs large, though) and usually fit quite well. The best fitting pair of trousers I have are size 10 J. Crew, but they might not make them any more, and I don't own a single pair of denim jeans that I like (thought I have tried on loads of pairs). I would pay up to $200 for the perfect pair, though.

    About true-to-size sizing:
    My mum is a fit model for a clothing company, and the designers always tell her that at 5'6" & 36C-28ish-38 she is an "almost perfect size 8", being "almost" perfect because she is slightly shorter and bustier than they would like, but she wears a 6 sometimes in other brands, and hates going into high-end places because they are always SML and she can't even fit into the larges.

    As to sizing changing over time:
    My grandmother sent me a dress she wore in the 60's or 70's, and it's a size 6; however, even when I was a size 0-2 (according to current standards) I couldn't zip it. Eek.

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    Elite Member Lobelia's Avatar
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    I feel confused now. Sizes have been creeping upward, and Americans are fat, but there is a need for teeny-tiny clothing.... I don't know how to feel about myself at the moment, for some reason... I'm sitting here wondering how my present clothing sizes compare to those I wore 20 years ago...
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    Elite Member Laurent's Avatar
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    My mother still has a lot of her clothes from the 70s when she was an 8/10 and they are small. She's probably 20 pounds heavier now and still a size 10.
    “What are you looking at, sugar-tits?” - Mel Gibson

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    Silver Member tofucheesecake's Avatar
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    Default This is how I figure the need for smaller sizes:

    1) Women started getting larger
    2) Companies started making sizes larger and labeling them smaller
    3) Women get used to wearing "smaller" sizes = ego boost
    4) There's also the "skinny trend" - or more Asian customers (as one designer said) ... or something? I know several very naturally small people, but they would have existed even before the need for "negative" sizes
    5) Companies realize there is still a need for smaller sizes, only now that they have started labeling everything larger, there is nowhere to go but down, thus = "negative" sizes.

    It's pretty dumb. 23-25 inch waists aren't *that* tiny, especially considering that on a woman of average height, anything over 32" is considered a health risk, but I think we have gradually gone from the ages of not enough or just the right amount to the age of excess.

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    Elite Member silver024's Avatar
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    tofu-i know exactly what you mean about paying up to $200 for a pair that fits, i would too, if i could just find them!!!! ...and you know i read about all these designer jeans that fit great...yea fit great on sizes up to an 8...i do have a pair of JCrew jeans, but they didnt fit good either (when i could fit into them ) all this weight i lost..i lost it in my butt and thighs and a bit in the belly..so all my "skinny" pants fit now..but sag in the butt and legs! No lie, i probably have about 20 pairs of jeans that fit right now, but not the way id like them to..and then i have my box of "skinny" jeans that i cant fit back into yet, im down to a 12, id love to get back to a 10 (10 is my skinny jeans!) and 10lbs would probably get me back into them..but ive hit a plateau and havent been able to lose anymore lately. Did anyone else ever see that Sex in the City where all the girls are talking about their "skinny jeans" in the back of their closet? does anyone else keep jeans that they used to fit in..hoping that they will get back into them at some point??
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    Elite Member LynnieD's Avatar
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    Who are the making these clothes for? Nicole Ritchie?

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    wow...
    I feel really sorry for the very tiny skinny people.
    Im not even that skinny (im pretty short tho) and i have a 23 inch waist. I guess its good that they still cater for the smaller people even though i suppose statistically its probably not that profitable. I'm a size 8 australian. I don't really know how that compares to us or uk sizing.But from from what i gather shopping here where i live its a popular size as when you want something chances are all the eights are gone.And all the sixes are gone. There are alot of super-tiny asian girls around where i live. Negative sizing ... thats just beyond ridiculous, people must realise what a scam it all is?

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    Elite Member pinkbunnyslippers's Avatar
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    Size change from store, to store. Brand to brand.
    I bought a bikini from Old Navy. I wear a 36DD bra. The bikini top was an extra large. I wear a size 8. The bikini bottom was a small and its still a bit saggy. I think stores do that to make people feel good about themselves. Which is bad because people will continue to eat thinking "I wear a small!"
    So imagine if someone wear a small regularly, they couldn't fit a small in a bikini...maybe they'd have to go to the childrens department.

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    I think the vanity sizing fools a lot of women. My MIL for instance. She is a solid size 10 (I looked at the sizes of her pants in her closet), yet she bragged to me that she was a size 6 now just because she was able to fit into ONE pair of pants that were size 6 in ONE store. Wanna guess where she's going to do more shopping? I wanted to take off my size 6 jeans and see if she could pull them over her considerable ass.

    Now, I am a pretty solid size 6, and I say that because that is the size I would pick up to try on first and that would fit in most stores. There are certain stores (like Ann Taylor Loft) that vanity size and I can wear a size 4 in there and even those can be loose (I had one pair of ATL size 4 pants this summer that were almost falling off). That actually annoys me. I don't want to play this game.

    And it bothers me that my MIL, who does nothing in the way of exercise, is so smug about being a size 6, which she really isn't, when I, the true size 6, work my ass off in the gym to maintain that.

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    I'm actually glad designers are starting to do this. I really don't agree with the whole misleading "subzero" title, but it's great that designers are noticing that some of their customers are more petite!

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    Silver Member LaSchifosaVita's Avatar
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    From buying a lot of vintage clothing, I have tons of different size clothes in my closet. If you add that I'm also very tall, I own clothes that range in sizes from anywhere between medium and extra-large. Uniform sizes would certainly make things simpler.

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