Women’s Self-Esteem and “Vanity Sizing”

Have you come across the term “vanity sizing“? A term directly related to women’s self-esteem.

Put in a more formal way, this phenomenon describes how clothes of the same nominal size actually expand in physical size over the years.

To be more blunt, the core concept of vanity sizing is to make women feel slimmer. A size 14 now is physically bigger than a size 14 five years ago, yet it remains labeled like this for the sake of vanity sizing.

The forced illusion of small-sized labels and how it affects women’s self-esteem.

Why does this happen?

Because we tend to say that “size is just a number”, but the general public still favors smaller labels. The idea of petite sizing for the contemporary woman is still too prevalent. Obviously, this can lead to a myriad of issues – including lower self-esteem and eating disorders in order to keep up with the parade.

Do you think this sounds implausible?

Vanity sizing and self-esteem are connected

Unfortunately, vanity sizing and self-esteem are connected. There are numerous studies that confirm this – here’s one that studied how smaller size labels led to increased self-esteem among customers.

On the contrary, bigger sizes leads not only to plummeting self-esteem. No – their effect catches on to brands too! A company that used bigger labels was perceived negatively compared to a brand that stuck to vanity sizing.

Have you wondered why women’s size 12 in 1958 is now a size 6?

Why in 1937, a 14 dress had a 32″ bust size while in 2011/2012 the same dress was size 0?

How vanity sizing makes finding properly-fitting clothes a nightmare but increases our self-esteem

Women’s Self-Esteem and “Vanity Sizing”

Obviously, this situation is not right. To say there’s a fit problem across global brands is an understatement. We’re talking about an endless frustration cycle for millions of women in search for properly sized clothing.


In some countries like a lot of Asian nations – Japan or China, for example, there’s universal sizing. We’re talking about your typical X, S, M, L and XL labels. Such countries lack any substantial diversity among their population which makes it easy to sell more standardized clothes.

Other countries however – such as the UK, UK and a lot of European nations, simply can’t stick to this approach. There are far too many ethnicities, far too many different body types which calls for a more fragmented take on measurements. Hence the various size numbers that should offer consumers more accurate measurements for a better shopping experiences.

The problem: each apparel supplier has its own size chart, depending on its market and target customers.

And on top of that, we have the issue with vanity sizing which changes over time.

The equation is simple:

Non-standardized clothing sizes + Vanity sizing = Total chaos for the end consumer (you)

Women’s Self-Esteem and “Vanity Sizing”

For example, a Zara size 6 can be easily a size 8 at another place, or a size 4 at another retailer.

How can you possibly know what size are you exactly across dozens upon dozens of retailers? And what can guarantee you things won’t change again in a few years?

There’s this list of vanity sizing across 18 popular brands which outlines the insanity of inconsistent labels. Forever 21 runs small, Old Navy is just right and Free People goes extra large.

As an additional note, there are some 67% of American women who wear a size 14 or above. Thanks to vanity sizing, a lot of the popular brands either skip on offering larger sizes or give you very limited collections and styles to choose from.

My personal story of feeling ashamed because of labels

Some time ago, I read how every fifth woman in the UK felt ashamed of her size. I couldn’t believe it, until I had a similar experience.

In 2017 I wanted to wear a tweed dress for New Year’s Even. I couldn’t find one that I liked and that would fit me properly right until the actual day. Then it happened: I finally stumbled upon a gorgeous piece in a small boutique, after I rummaging through a few other dresses.

The size was labeled as large.

Women’s Self-Esteem and “Vanity Sizing”

I had a wonderful New Year’s. There were lots of happy moments and needless to say, I was delighted with my newly bought tweed masterpiece.

One day after the celebratory night, my boyfriend nonchalantly walked past my clothing rack. I normally wear medium size so when he saw the L size tag, he asked me whether I had gained weight.

My face got red and I felt ashamed, much as those UK women have probably felt.

Right-fitting clothes without the shame and shopping inconvenience

The thing is, vanity sizing won’t just stop happening. Brands have made it a common weapon in boosting sales and customers’ self-esteem.

That it makes the shopping process a nightmare for a lot of women is starting to get some recognition, but we still have a long way to go. In fact, vanity sizing for men has also started to gain traction…

Fit+Inch” is here to free you of the shopping chaos

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Fit+inch” is here for a fashion revolution! Skip the return policy articles

Fit+Inch” is here to free you of the shopping chaos around inconsistent size labels. We’re here to make picking your clothes a process that’s easier, simpler and strictly yours.

In short, we’re here to retire vanity sizing and leave it in the past.

What we aim to do is create a community of confident women who buy clothing not according to the size tag, but in line with their own body measurements and shape. To do this, we are partnering with designers who produce clothing that actually fits based on your measurements.

We have felt the same pain and frustrations due to never ending inconsistencies. It’s about time a change in how women shop for clothes came and we’re bringing it with the help of our loyal community.

Body positivity begins with our self-esteem

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