What size is it?

I detest shopping of all kinds, whether it’s food, shoes, clothing, you name it. One of my genie wishes, besides a personal chef and masseuse, would be my very own personal shopper. Considering my sizes have fluctuated wildly over the past decade with the birth of two kids, getting in shape, falling out of shape, etc. etc., the idea has never been more appealing. My personal shopper would just know, never ask what size or what measurements, and bring me fabulous clothes that fit.

Until this reality comes to light, I have an analysis for you that may put your mind at ease. If you ever feel in a funk after a shopping endeavor, I know why.

 Behold: It’s the madness that is size confusion.

Take basic necessities, although some may argue we don’t need these: Panties, undergarments, underwear, knickers, however you like to call them.

Sept 2014 006

If you look closely, you’ll see that the pant size is larger than the underwear size (except if you’re tiny). I understand there’s the matter of a hip measurement, but who really knows what that is. I mean, who can trust that is accurate, and how often does it happen that you go down a size with anything? This is instant size confusion, and a breakdown of trust.

I have a theory that no matter what store you’re in, you’ll undoubtedly find this:

Sept 2014 009
Who opened this?

Someone has opened this package, and it was no accident. It has been opened for the purpose of establishing a size reference, and no one has bothered to take it away either. The store knows better. They know it will happen again, over and over. It’s not like we can try on underwear.

It doesn’t help that there are dozens of different styles to choose from. You got your bikinis, your high-cuts, hipsters, boyfriends, boyshorts, low rises, briefs, boxer briefs…This doesn’t help matters. It’s not uncommon to see this sight:

Sept 2014 013
Someone just went and gave up.

If you risked taking home a package, and later decided to return the item, well, I have a theory about that, too. Deep in the dark recesses in the back of the store, there’s a huge warehouse bin filled with returned underwear, and it’s not even sorted. I know, I’ve dreamed about this. You may never see it, and let’s hope you don’t.

Now for underwear’s cousin: The mankini, or what is commonly referred to as the “Speedo.”

My son plays water polo, and so I must order a Speedo-type suit. Typically, the waist measurement correlates to the numeric size of the suit. A waist size of 26 will be a 26 size suit. Easy peasy, except when I need to actually order one.

Image Source: Zamousa.com
Image Source: Zamousa.com

What kind of voodoo logic is this? It’s Common Core math, isn’t it? How does a 26 1/2 waist equal a size 30 suit? Luckily, it’s denoted as “S” for Small, but if you ask me, all these suits looks smallish.

Why don’t I talk about a sport I’ve tried: Running and the Running Shoe

I no longer run, but when I did, it was my understanding that the proper running shoe was one size up from your normal shoe size. My normal size 7 grew to a size 8. Since we’re now running, and not simply standing around, we need more space, a bigger size.

If you find yourself in a harrowing situation where you’re flying down a hill, you want to have ample space to be able to cushion the shock of a dramatic halt, without your toes slamming into the fronts of your shoes. Right? I would argue that your normal size shoe should be able to compensate for the most dire of circumstances, and I can’t think of anything more dire than the one I just described.

Trying to find the perfect shoe, you may find yourself reading a couple of reviews about shoe performance. The wearer will describe durability, materials, etc, and then throw in for good measure that the shoe fits “true to size.” I ask, True to what size? My  old size? My bigger size? The size I want to be? What? What? 

I know you want to help and you’ll say, “The running shoe size, of course.” Are you sure about this?

Look at this chart for size:

shoe size chart

This is size confusion at its best, a stew of utter randomness.

Now, let’s talk about pants. No, let’s not. If we were really smart, we would simply wear tent-like assembles, with no panties, no bras (goes without saying), and no shoes. We would survive, be less confused, and dare I say, more comfortable.

photo credit: Ben (Falcifer) via photopin cc

43 thoughts on “What size is it?

  1. Ha! Maybe women actually invented the burqa. Probably every woman in the Middle East is wearing boy shorts and a halter top with Tory Burch sandals under her burqa. Sizes not required. (And I run about 21 miles a week on average in sneakers the same size as my dress-up shoes. Never heard the bigger is better theory of shoe shopping, although I do buy up a size for my kids. But that’s because I’m cheap, not confused.) Very cute post!


    1. I don’t mind the one size fits all. I can handle that one. I imagine women in the Middle East are pretty creative. You’ve never heard that about running shoes? Oh, that’s what the running store told me, and ever since, I think my feet have grown, Jen. I’m at least a 7 1/2 now. I follow that same pattern with my kids. Thanks! 🙂


  2. It’s crazy, isn’t it? And some stores throw in European sizes instead of the sizes we’re used to in the US, and I’m in total confusion.

    I worked at Target for a short time in high school. I worked the women’s underwear and accessories department. My job was to refold and reassemble all those picked apart undies. Now you understand why I only worked there a short time…


    1. Is it crazy, Carrie. You never can tell if something is going to fit until you try it on. I’ll be amazed, and think something looks so cute on the hanger, and it looks absolutely horrible when I try it on. What are sizes anyway. It’s all approximate, if you ask me.

      Oh, you poor thing. I had no idea my post would be read by someone who had to deal with this thing in the underwear section. It’s always a mess! My theories must be accurate. And that bin in the back…that can be our little secret. 🙂


  3. I just heard recently that sizes of pants can vary as much as 3″+. That makes finding the right size problematic unless you get that brand all the time. I’ve noticed that sizes have downsized. When I was younger and thinner, I never wore a four, but now I can often wear them. It just to make women feel better about themselves. As for bras, one of the funniest sights is the really large sizes hanging there and sticking way out into the store. I have the problem of being between small sizes!

    Enjoyed the post, Amy.



    1. Whoa, Janet. No wonder we’re all having problems with sizing. That’s kind of pathetic that it would vary so much. A four! You must be tiny! I haven’t been that size since college. I think my general problem is that I am often in between sizes. Things are too small or too big. They need a half size, right? Why hasn’t this happened yet? Thank you.


  4. You had me at “I detest shopping of all kinds…” There are certain things I absolutely detest I have to spend money on … at the top of the list are underwear and socks. And, yes, the size thing makes no sense frequently. I wish you luck in your search for a personal chef, masseuse and shopper. I may want to apply for the personal chef gig. I think that’s something I would love to do. At least for a while.


    1. I know the feeling of having to dish out money for socks and underwear. But, we do need them! I’ve never really liked shopping. I know some people who actually enjoy it, but that has never been the case for me. Wow, I didn’t know you like to cook. What is your favorite cuisine? Have you ever been a chef? I wish I could be a chef, but I’m happy if I can follow a recipe and my kids eat it. 🙂


      1. I’ll try to make just about anything, but my regulars are Mexican, Italian, and pizza. Make my own flour tortillas, make homemade pasta, I love to bake bread of all types. I’ve gone through stir-fry periods. I have perfected my pizza. I’ve never been a chef. When I was halfway through law school I thought that I maybe should have gone to culinary school, but the reality is that cooking at a restaurant would be too much like a job. I’m good with cooking for the family and for friends. Or being a personal chef for somebody could be interesting as well because it wouldn’t be preparing the same dishes for hundreds of people every night, night after night. It would be a good opportunity to get creative on a daily basis.


      2. You’re making me hungry. Yum. I understand about it being too much like a job. I taught dance for a while, and when I started doing that, I quit dancing! Now, I miss that, but don’t think I could teach so many classes again, because it took joy away from it. It was too exhausting. A personal chef sounds perfect though. Maybe it’s out there for you! You never know. I wish I could offer you a job. 🙂


  5. Like you, Amy, I am not a fan of clothes shopping at all, but for years I have been buying the vast majority of everything I wear online and that includes my almost lifetime supply of Jack Purcell sneakers. I just find online shopping quick and easy. Plus, no waiting at the register. I highly recommend it.


    1. A lifetime supply of Jack Purcell sneakers. Wow, you’re set! Were the blue ones you wore Jack Purcell? Maybe I will shop online. It seems convenient so long as everything fits! And there are no shipping charges. There’s also something, isn’t there?


  6. My trainers are always different sizes depending on the manufacturer. I’ve noticed that I need a larger size Nike than other brands. Then there’s the UK size which is always one number different to the US size (I think), and the EU size which just confuses it again.


    1. Exactly, Alistair. It doesn’t help when just US sizes flucuate, and then add to the mix international sizes, which clearly makes no sense at all. 🙂 Are you a runner? Sounds like it! I know how important it is to be happy with your running shoe.


  7. A personal chef, masseuse, and shopper … and you aren’t really asking for too much! 😉 … now if that combination could be found all in one person! Meanwhile, sizes are crazy … especially that overtime, sizes are changed but the numbers stay the same. Weird …. Great finds on those charts! OK … I’m off to Costco soon.


    1. That would be a steal if you could find all three is one person. This truly is a genie wish, and one I will probably never get. It’s nice to dream though. I think you’re right about size changing but the numbers staying the same. This seems to be the general consensus. Thanks! I need to go to Costco today, where they have big sizes of everything!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Different brands also make different sizes and this is even more confusing, Amy. Some brands fit me in the small size and then I can’t even squeeze into a ‘large’ size in the ‘teen type’ brands! They should have one of those measuring gates at the front of some shops (like they do at the showgrounds for rides) – ‘if you’re not this size don’t bother entering!’ LOL 😀


    1. The teen brands blend into the women’s section a lot of times. I can’t tell the difference sometimes. The measuring gate would be perfect! Or else some kind of shopping robot assistant. Maybe that will the future’s personal shopper. They would look at you and know what you need. Otherwise, it’s just a lot of guesswork! 🙂


  9. Now my head is spinning! I don’t mind shopping, but I hate trying things on. I always feel a little sick as the rejects pile up, and I walk out feeling ridiculously large. I love your humor and style! This made me laugh, even as I cringed.


    1. I’m with you on that, Dawn. Such disappointment when something doesn’t work and you leave empty-handed. I’ll think something will fit or look cute, and then put it on and just NO! It’s like what happened to this item of clothing from the rack to the dressing room. It underwent some kind of transformation….Aww, thanks so much! So pleased you enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m with you. I hate shopping of all kinds. I hate clothes. Combine the two and it’s my worst nightmare. Might be why my closet still has clothes from 1984. (no underwear that old though, gotta draw the line somewhere)


    1. Darla, I understand. I have clothes like that too in my closet. They need to get the ax and be gone already! I suppose I would let go of them if I replaced them more often. Oh, this is just sad. I don’t like shopping for clothes, but that said, I like cute clothes that fit! And underwear, yeah that is a practical matter.


  11. Amy, I have to confess, I’m a package open-upper. I rarely look at the size charts. I just eyeball the undergarment, stretch it across my hips, and I’m good to go. Though, it’s been a while since I paid a visit to Victoria’s Secret. The shopping I do on regular basis usually involves buying diapers, baby food, and if I’m lucky, a bottle of wine.


    1. Ha ha! That’s so funny, Anka. Of course, I give you a total pass on this! I mean, it’s tricky, right? I don’t shop much either, unless it’s for food or kids’ stuff. I understand. Not even wine right now. Whaa!


  12. Oh, Amy, sometimes I think you are inside my head. Last week I went to look for a plain black pair of pants for an interview. I’ve lost weight recently and had no idea what size I am at this moment. The right side of my closet is all too big and the left side is still too small so I figured I’d start somewhere in the middle. I picked out three styles in the store and then had to pick out three sizes in each style because they all fit differently. Nine pairs of pants I had to try on to find one pair. I was exhausted by the time it was over. I hate shopping.


    1. Michelle, I AM inside your head. Don’t hear me now?! Ha ha. You’re too much fun. First of all, congrats on losing weight! Way to go! I know that feeling of having half your clothes not fit. I’m going through this same stage currently, which is one reason why I must shop. And, I’m returning to the job world (as a intern!). Still, I must dress the part, and it’s painful because I need more stuff. And pants!!! They are the WORST. Aren’t they? There’s just too many details there, too many ways that they can be cut, worn, long, short, boot, etc…They all feel wrong! I’m sorry to hear of your taxing pant shopping experience. I feel your pain. Nine pairs to try on! You need a vacation now. Best of luck with the interview. I’m sure you’ll look sharp no matter what.


      1. I can hear you now! From now on those voices in my head shall be named Amy.
        The pants were for a 2nd interview. I thought the first one went really well and was sure I would get a second. I was wrong. Now I have a pair of pants that I haven’t worn and am planning to make to big for me soon.


      2. Drat on the second interview! Take back those pants and buy something you really want. Some PJs!! Those aren’t too bad to shop for. Prepare for the winter. You have your instructions now, Michelle….straight from the voice of Amy. Ha ha! And, some woolly socks!


      3. I know you well, don’t I?! Ha ha. Very good. I hope you’re nice and cozy, Michelle. Ooh, that’s chilly. We’re still enduring record highs here, but it’s starting to cool off. About 70F in the morning. If only it would stay that way all day.


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