We all have a love-hate relationship with the scale: one day you love it, the next day you want to toss it out the window. And even though you know the scale is unreliable, you still use it (sometimes every day) and allow it to have the power to dictate your mood for the day. Good number — good mood, bad number — well, you get the picture, and we’ve all been there.
So if you can’t rely on the scale to tell you the truth, what can you rely on?
How about letting your clothes do the talking? If you’re like me, you’ve got clothes in your closet that are a little snug, a little too big and ones that fit just right. And I have so many different sizes in my closet, it’s hard to tell what size I really wear.
For instance, when shopping for clothes I look for size 10 or a medium. But sometimes a size 10 is too big at one store or too small at another.
Whether you do your shopping online or in the store, I’m sure you’ve experienced the frustration of inconsistent sizing across brands, styles and stores. And there’s a name for it — vanity sizing — and when it comes to sizing, anything goes.
Unfortunately, this madness is partly our fault.
Studies have shown that shoppers prefer to buy clothing labeled with small sizes because it’s a confidence booster. According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, in 1960 the average American weighed 140 pounds, and today that weight has increased to 168 pounds.
So in response to that increase, brands adjusted their metrics to help more of us squeeze into more desirable sizes. And that’s when it hit me — the scale isn’t the only thing that lies. Apparently our clothes are liars, too.
So if you can’t trust your scale or your clothes, what can you trust? How about the measuring tape?
Here’s what to do: Wrap a soft flexible tape measure around the narrowest part of your waist until it overlaps with the beginning of the tape measure. Don’t pull it too tight! Make sure the tape measure is only lying at the surface of your skin.
Then take out a pair of jeans that is one to two sizes too small. Lay it on a hard surface and using your tape measure, measure across the top of the waist. Make sure the jeans are zipped and buttoned, and the button is not sagging down below the back part of the waist.
Multiply that number by two and you have the circumference of the waistband.
Do those two numbers match up?
Here’s the take-home message — designers are trying to make us feel better by giving us smaller numbers on our clothes. But in reality, they’re misleading us into thinking we’re thinner than we actually are. I expect my son and my clients to lie to me occasionally, but I don’t expect my clothes to lie.
Here’s the bottom line: Pants lie, skirts lie, designers lie. Tape measures do not. What are you going to believe?
Reach Mary Schoepe at firstname.lastname@example.org.