I don't understand sizes!
October 16, 2006 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Women'sClothingFilter: If an item of clothing has a "split size", such as a 1/2 or a 22/24, which is the "correct" size to call it? Do you go with the higher or lower number? And in a related vein--if it's a junior size 5, that's the same as a women's 3, right? Or something like that? I get confused, because I wear a Youth Medium t-shirt, but often still wind up having to buy Women's LARGE. Clues definitely needed here!
posted by polexxia to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total)
Generally, odd sizes are juniors, and even sizes are womens- junior clothes are generally cut slimmer. So, no, I don't believe a junior 5 is the same as a woman's 3, because a 3 is still juniors sizing.

The thing about sizes is there are no set standards. You can be a large at one store and a small at another. Part of the joy of being a woman. I still can't get over that men can buy dress shirts in plastic bags.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:36 PM on October 16, 2006 [2 favorites]

Based on my experience clothing people who wear "either a medium or a large," I would say you should measure yourself (or have someone help you do it) and then measure the piece of clothing in question. If, for example, your measurement over your bust is 41 inches, then you want to measure a shirt at the wearing position to see if it's at least 20.5 inches. If so, it will fit you. If not, go up a size.

Because different companies size things differently (and also CHANGE sizing paradigms, which is completely wrong), "knowing" that a certain size in Juniors or whatever correlates to a certain other size in Misses/Ladies is fairly useless (in my experience, anyway). As annoying as it is to have a measuring tape in my purse, it's less annoying than being unable to find the correct size. However, with regard to "split sizes," my experience is that if you mostly wear the larger size, then it's likely you're going to want the next size up. However, if you typically wear a 22, then a 22/24 will probably be fine. But if you are a 24 edging toward 26 . . . .

Also, in my experience anyway, odd sizes are usually in the "juniors" department at stores in my area, but even sizes are for Misses/Ladies (i.e., adults). So a girl wearing a Junior's 7 will be wearing (probably) a ladies/misses 8, but there is really no guarantee.

May I ask why you want to know? is there a particular item of clothing which plagues you? Or just idle curiosity?
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:38 PM on October 16, 2006

Response by poster: Well, to be frank, I had gastric bypass surgery about a year ago.

I have several pairs of 3/5 jeans that are loose, but I also have size 3s that are loose. (similar cut, same company).

And today, I bought a 1/2 skirt--and was just curious as to which is the "truer" size of it.

As far as shirts... it's all confusing for me, because a Youth Medium fits me great, but I sometimes wind up in a Ladie's Large. That's why i was hoping there was some sort of rhyme or reason to it all.

(I HATE trying clothes on, and like being able to just look in the section that's most LIKELY to fit)
posted by polexxia at 7:42 PM on October 16, 2006

Are you in the US? My understanding of junior sizes is that a junior 5 is between womens' sizes 4 & 6. I posed this same question to a group of girlfriends and that's what they told me (but none of us are what you would call fashion-savvy, so I'm willing to be corrected on that). As for the split size, I think there is so much variability both between brands and within them that measurements in actual numerical inches are the only measurements worth bothering about. So to me a size 1/2 is a 1 or 2, give or take. You can sometimes ask a salesperson for the corresponding measurements for their sizing system to clarify things for you.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:43 PM on October 16, 2006

My understanding of junior sizes is that a junior 5 is between womens' sizes 4 & 6

Not entirely true; juniors sizes are also generally cut differently, generally slimmer. I usually wear a 4/6 in women's pants, but am probably a 7 or 9 in Juniors pants.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:49 PM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

If you really hate trying clothes on, then the only real way to avoid many trips back and forth to return things is to take your own measurements. This PDF is actually for costumes but could help you anyway - I know I would never have thought to measure myself in so many places before I started dressing people for fun and lack of profit. If I can use this system to dress people other than myself with a very small amount of annoyance, I think it should work for dressing one's self. I wouldn't rely on a printed "size" anyway - I have size 8, 10, and 12 pants, all of which fit correctly -- they're just made by different companies.

Totally. Maddening.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:51 PM on October 16, 2006

Yeah I have everything from 24" waists to like, 6 or 8 in pants. Lately sizing seems especially wacky! I just go by sight and think it's pretty reliable, plus not like claiming a size means anything anyways.
posted by shownomercy at 7:57 PM on October 16, 2006

Response by poster: I wish I could go by sight! LOL

Unfortunately, the things that fit, when I see them on the rack, I'm like "Nah, that's wAYYYY too small"

Guess I'll have to suck it up and do the measurements thing....
posted by polexxia at 8:02 PM on October 16, 2006

I stopped thinking of myself as a particular size a long time ago. My clothing--most of which fits me nicely--is an array of sizes. To a certain extent, it is artibrary at this point. Know the sizes you skew towards and get used to trying things on in the store or taking them back if they don't fit after trying on at home. It's not just size, it is also the shape of the cut, especially now that everything is so close-fitting. If you have recently lost a lot of weight from surgery, it may be that you are still adjusting to the ways that clothes fit your body differently as well. Or maybe you still can't believe that you are wearing such a small size. But really, womens clothing sizes (in the states) are completely variable and in no way standarized. I can show you 3 different pairs of pants from banana republic in 3 different sizes that all fit me.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:23 PM on October 16, 2006

My clothing--most of which fits me nicely--is an array of sizes. [...] But really, womens clothing sizes (in the states) are completely variable and in no way standarized.

Me too (and ditto for a couple of my coworkers, with whom I was complaining about just this very phenomenon today!) -- my closet is filled with clothes ranging across 4 different sizes, even though they all fit right this very minute.

To get a general idea of what size you are in misses' (as opposed to junior's), you may want to take your measurements and then compare them to a size chart (in a catalog or online) at one of the major brands, and use that as a rough benchmark. You'll eventually learn which brands (or which particular items of clothing) require you to go up or down a size to fit the best. (For example, I'll often go a size smaller in blouses to account for my small bust, but go a size or two larger in jackets to account for my long arms. Similarly, I know that when in doubt with a Banana Republic item, the smaller size will probably do the trick, but with H&M I should go a size larger.)
posted by scody at 9:12 PM on October 16, 2006

for example, here's The Gap's size chart for women, which works for me as a basic benchmark. YMMV, of course, but it might be a place to start.
posted by scody at 9:25 PM on October 16, 2006

Well, if you figure it out, let me know. My only bit of advice -- since you have trying on clothes -- is to get measured and look for size charts. For example, here is Lands End's size charts. The reason I chose this one is that they carry a lot of Lands End at Sears. So you should theoretically be able to walk in, grab your size, and go. Or alternatively you can try on sizes at Sears, find what fits best, and order all kinds of stuff online.

By way of disclaimer, Lands End is one of my favorite places to shop because they have inseams from 26" to 36" for women. Most stores have only 28" (too long for me) and 30" (way the heck too long for me). If you have a favorite designer, try googling for their charts. Like Liz? Or maybe Forever 21 is more your type? These charts have some variation, so the key is knowing your measurements. Some stores will be glad to help you with this. Others will be a little clueless.
posted by ilsa at 9:29 PM on October 16, 2006

er, "hate", not "have". And what scody said.
posted by ilsa at 9:32 PM on October 16, 2006

Junior sizes (the odd numbers) are kinda-sorta between misses sizes (the even numbers). The measurements are almost the same, but the proportions are different. Junior sizes tend to be narrower in the shoulder and arms, flatter (less curvy) in the hip/buttocks, and shorter from the shoulder-to-waist and waist-to-hip. They also tend to be cut so that they fit closer to the body.

Using the JCPenney size guide, a Misses 4 has a bust of 34", a junior 5 has a bust of 33.5", and a youth large (16) has a chest of 35". Of course, the size that actually will fit you has a lot to do with how the garment is cut and what fabric it's made out of, as well as how you want the garment to fit.

If the two numbers on the tag are both even or odd, then it's a multi sized garment, and rather than making you figure out whether the L means a Junior Large (9-11) or a Misses Large (14-16) or something else entirely, they're giving you numbers so that you have an idea
posted by jlkr at 9:43 PM on October 16, 2006

I've noticed that multi-sized garmets that have an even/odd (1/2) size are usually juniors sizes, while an even/even (8/10) size is usually women's sizes. As others have mentioned, juniors clothes are usually cut slimmer then women's clothes. So if you are typically a women's 4, you'd probably want to go with a juniors 5, sometimes 7...and occasionally 3....

A couple years ago, I worked at TJ Maxx -- if you want to see exactly how much the "same" size can differ, check out any rack of juniors pants. There can be a huuuuge difference. Of course, TJs sells a lot of "irregular" items, but even first-quality items can be drastically different.

With your totally new body (yay!) you're probably going to have a hard time picking the correct size right off the rack for a while. If you don't want to try stuff on in the store, just make sure you save all your receipts so you can return stuff when you guess wrong. Really, your best bet is to take your measurements & look up the size charts for your favorite stores & brands. You'll get the hang of it!

Personally, my hips/thighs are weirdly proportioned. In stores, I grab a couple different sizes and try them all on. I have a really hard time picking the right size online without a size chart. When I do find one, I worry that the clothes are going to fit wrong anyway. And "regular" length pants are, without fail, too long, but "short" pants are always always an inch too short. And currently none of my clothes fit & I have no idea what size I am right now because I just put on the "post-college 10" so I am not having a good clothes month! /rant ahem
posted by good for you! at 6:48 AM on October 17, 2006

If you have a tape measure and some time on your hands, FitMe can tell you your size in various brands. You have to sign up for an account, but I'm pretty sure it's free. (I haven't actually tried it, as my wardrobe consists almost entirely of jeans and t-shirts. Looks interesting though.)
posted by 912 Greens at 9:05 AM on October 17, 2006

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