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Fittingly Mad: Vanity Sizing on Workout Clothes

I hate trying on clothes, and the fact that sizes are all over the map doesn't help matters. Some brands run big while others run small, which means I have to take a pile of items into the dressing room. But I got really riled up while shopping for workout clothes this weekend, when I discovered what's apparently a new trend: vanity sizing on workout clothes.

I've ranted before about vanity sizing, the practice of making clothes larger but sizing them smaller, so people can wear smaller sizes and feel better about themselves. I'm normally a solid medium, but when I was shopping this weekend, I tried on several mediums that were enormous on me. I guess the clothing manufacturers want me to be happy about buying a small, but they're not fooling me with their flattery. (Also, what would a really small person wear?!)

But what really annoys me is that vanity sizing on workout clothes is totally counterproductive. To find out why,


If you are working out and trying to slim down, shouldn't you wear clothes that are an accurate representation of your size? Wouldn't you rather know that you've actually dropped a size, or that you are maintaining your happy size, rather than being tricked into thinking you've changed? Exercise helps us feel better about our bodies, and that's way more real than a vanity size that tries to do the same thing.

What do you guys think? Am I overreacting, or do you also find vanity sizing in workout clothes fittingly mad?


Join The Conversation
fitnessmama fitnessmama 8 years
Yes, I agree with this 100%!!! Vanity sizing is ridiculous, especially when it is brought into fitness clothing!!!! And to answer your question about what really small people wear...well, we shop in the kid's section because the XS tops are even too big for us... I'm healthy and fit and should be able to shop in age appropriate clothing sections! :)
Frank-y-Ava Frank-y-Ava 9 years
My mom told me about that, my sister wears a DD 36 in cheap bras and a D in expensive bras! Like dkny will make the medium a small so you can feel better and buy more clothes.
Allytta Allytta 9 years
so true, i was buying sportsbra from adidas, and it was size 8, although i know i'm 10. yeap, it made me happy.
emalove emalove 9 years
I don't know if I've encountered this before, but I wear an XS or S, and I'd be pretty annoyed if these sizes were all too big for me in efforts to "fool" people. What would I wear?!
scmeggiry scmeggiry 9 years
I get fooled by vanity sizing. I keep buying the same size or even have to go down a size (yay!) but then I come home and try on a pair of old jeans and they're too tight (boo!). Or I try on clothes at a place that has smaller clothes and end up depressed. So yeah. Vanity sizing really messes with my head.
lostcitygirl lostcitygirl 9 years
An article on Wikipedia ( I read, explained a lot about sizing. And the old standards. It shows in a chart that a current size 4, was a size 10 prior to 1980. Among the other size equivelants, it also shows how much they (the clothing companies) have changed the sizes over the last few decades. I've lost a good amount of weight, and just used one companies jeans to "measure" besides the actual scale, and body measurements...since I know that the sizing is partly made to make me feel "better".
Spectra Spectra 9 years
Ha, Lo Lo, I feel your pain...I'm only 100 lbs and 5'3" and I have such issues finding clothes that fit. Luckily for me, the inseam of shorts doesn't matter so I can wear girls' shorts and tee shirts. I also usually buy boys' khakis too...they're a TAD short, but they work. I think a lot of people like seeing that even though they're 10-20 lbs heavier than they used to be, they "still wear a size 8" or whatever. It's so dumb; you gained weight, you go up a size: deal with it.
idawson idawson 9 years
I hate vanity sizing as a person trying to drop some significant weight it gets very confusing. almost makes me want to not worry about losing the extra weight. if i am "big" i would rather know
saritabonita saritabonita 9 years
vanity sizing sucks. i can't get a stupid sportsbra to fit. i have to go to the children's section and im not TINY.
soulight soulight 9 years
Vanity sizing really is getting out of control. I'm by no means the skinny minis that have posted above, but I've noticed my sizes haven't changed even though I'm sure I've gained weight, nothing big just I feel I'm up to a 6, but I'm still a 4 according to Express.
kiwitwist kiwitwist 9 years
I think it is stupid. A perfect example is when you see a 'healthy' person stating they are now a size 2 on tv meanwhile you are a 10 and you know darn well she is bigger than you. That is frustrating.
puddinpie puddinpie 9 years
Yeah, it's annoying. I think I have a good idea of what size a shirt or the waist band of a pair of pants need to be in order to fit me though (based on the mental image I have of clothes I already own at home) so I just zip through the racks and find a shirt or a skirt that looks about the same size, regardless of what the label says. I think stores like Anthropologie are among the worst offenders of vanity sizing--I recently grabbed a tent-like shirt off the rack, only to realize that it was a size 0 on the label! I think most celebrities use tailors because I think the majority of female celebs are thinner than I am, and I need to get my "size 0" (eye roll) clothes taken in at a tailor sometimes.
berrypeachie berrypeachie 9 years
ladychaos, I actually feel you on that one. I have a huge problem finding jeans as well. Not to mention how I used to be able to find jeans that fit perfectly but now its a dig in every single store, I can't jsut buy and leave I have to try it on. Gap's clothes have gotten bigger, their clothes used to fit just right now its XS and even then its a huge gamble. Or else go into stores like Hollister and Abercrombie to find clothes that are geared towards my size.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I hate it too...because, like Fit said, it is a REAL pain in the ass have to bring as size 26, 27 and 28 size jeans into the dressign room with you! I hate trying on clothes enough as it is, so havig to find my size is even suckier!
patrice0x0x patrice0x0x 9 years
I guess as far as work out clothes go, this is such a great practice. But otherwise, for like everyday clothes, I would not be complaining. I would much rather think that I fit into a size 6 or 8 instead of a 10 or 12, even if the sizes aren't accurate. Personally, I think if this bothers you, then you must be skinny b/c I don't see people who normally wear bigger sizes being upset about fitting into smaller sizes... thats just me.
syako syako 9 years
sweetnglow - I often wonder the exact same thing!? I guess they have good tailors :P
imcs imcs 9 years
I couldn't agree with you more! Of course I'd rather be a smaller size, but not because the company tricks me into it, but because I've worked for it. And I definitely don't think it's fair for the smaller girls.
SweetNGlow SweetNGlow 9 years
I have a really small frame (5'1 and 105 lbs) too and am annoyed that clothes just seams to get bigger and bigger, yet the labeled sizes remain the same. Except for some sports apparel companies that are now making xs, like Nike, I can't find a decent sports bra. And even Champion (from Target, for example) is too big in xs. It makes me wonder how stars like Nicole Richie have anything to wear at all!
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
Now that I read what people who should be the ones fitting into a size small said, I definitely do sympathize and think it's ridiculous when people can't even find clothing just so those of us who are bigger can pretend we're a smaller size. And I should say it doesn't make me feel thinner. It's just obvious that the brand gave bigger clothing a smaller number. I say we get rid of it for all clothing.
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
jdeprima: that is an interesting argument. I argue the opposite. That people who shop at target, etc. don't really care and more upperscale lines would like to flatter their customer. Ex) I'm L at Target, XS at Express, a size 7 in BonTon jeans, and a size 2 in Se7en jeans.
marcella marcella 9 years
who cares? i assume that every brand of clothing is a different real size, so i try everything on and cut the labels when i get home. i don't chart progress by my size, but by my increased endurance and strength.
brown_eyed_grrl brown_eyed_grrl 9 years
It's annoying for sure. My wedding dress was a size 10. In upscale clothing, I'm a 6P. In mid-priced clothing, I'm a 4P. Sometimes at Old Navy I'm an XS. Garr...
bananapancake84 bananapancake84 9 years
This is why I learned to do basic tailoring. Off-the rack clothing never fits me correctly (my waist is much smaller than my hips or chest- so I'm different sizes top, bottom and middle). Dresses I'll have professionally tailored, but if its just workout clothes I do it myself.
alethia037 alethia037 9 years
ladychaos, I am so with you on this one. I never think of myself as being that tiny, until I don't fit into clothes anywhere. I recently went into GAP, and there size 1 pants were too big! I used to wear their 1's 10 years ago and they would be tight... and I am the same size now! I am thin and tall, with a 35" inseam as well... I can wear many stores petite sizes, as long as they aren't long pants or long sleeved shirts... and kids sizes are always too short. I like Ann Taylor LOFT, because they carry a lot of small sizes... 0 and 00, and they carry xxs in many styles too.
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