The Surprising History Behind Women's Bizarre Clothing Sizes

Many women dread shopping for jeans and other clothing items. It's not that we don't like the style options, it's that the sizes are always extremely different depending on where you're shopping. This makes many of us feel a range of emotions from anger to sadness when something doesn't fit right. And don't worry, this isn't just in our head, it's backed up by data. The New York Times reported that a size 8 waist measurement can differ by five inches of material depending on the brand. 

Jessica Murphy, co-founder of True Fit, an organization that helps consumers find the correct size across thousands of brands, told TODAY that this issue has existed for decades. She explained that there was a time that medium was just a medium everywhere. However, that changed when companies became more "brand-centric" and wanted to create their own sizes. It turns out there's some other bizarre reasons behind why sizes vary so greatly depending on the store.

Why sizes are different depending on the brand

Murphy said there's so much inconsistency because brands started to change their sizing based on who they believe their customer is. "If you have a brand catering to a 60-year-old customer, their size medium is going to be representative of their demographic," she explained. "If you contrast that with a brand serving a tween or teenage customer, their size medium is going to look very different."

One Reddit user has noticed this issue and voiced her frustration saying finding the right size in jeans was a daunting task. "I own jeans in US sizes 8, 10, 12, and 14, from different brands, that ALL fit," she explained. "One pair is hopelessly too big, one pair fits, and one pair is inches away from being able to button."

According to The Washington Post, this is also because companies engage in vanity sizing. This involves making the clothes bigger than what is actually listed on the tag — so a size 4 fits like a size 6. Brands do this in order to make women feel good about themselves, so they'll be more likely to buy the item. Unfortunately, if a brand wanted to create clothing for every shape they'd had to make thousands of different sizes (via Today). Seems as though the fashion industry hasn't quite figured out yet how to create the best fit for women, but at least there are companies like True Fit that are trying to make it easier.