“Vanity Sizing” of Yore?

“In the 1880s, however, clothiers had to work from a scale of sizes larger than that previously in use, and a modern corsetiere lamented that patterns from the nineteenth century were useless in the twentieth, indicating further increases in height and changes in body shape.”

(The Cambridge World History of Food, Volume Two, Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Conee Ornelas, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, p. 1316.)

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One thought on ““Vanity Sizing” of Yore?

  1. “patterns from the nineteenth century were useless in the twentieth, indicating further increases in height and changes in body shape.”

    Being that “vanity sizing” is a pejorative and an implication of unwarranted dimensional changes while the label indicating size becomes smaller, how is it possible for the actual dimensions that constitute any given size to remain static particularly in light of evolving size dimensions of customers? I argue it isn’t possible. The concept of what’s known as “vanity sizing” is a reflection of sizing to an evolving median size. If people get heavier -and they do- the average size will become larger. Were this not the case, we’d only be able to find clothing sized to fit women from the 1800’s -theoretically speaking. As a practical matter, we wouldn’t find it because these clothing manufacturers would have gone out of business long ago.

    In short, there is no such thing as “vanity sizing” which is not to say that sizing confusion hasn’t run amok only that vanity has nothing to do with it. The evolving size of the purchasing consumer is what changed and the market has evolved to meet it. The funny thing is, chair sizes, doorway and counter top height has also evolved to meet the evolving median but you don’t see anyone calling that “vanity sizing” so why do they when it comes to clothes?

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