Last night, I was having a Twitter conversation with The Lingerie Addict, She and Reverie, and Angela Friedman regarding how size large is not a popular sell in indie lingerie. As a size L/XL, I was trying to give a thoughtful response on the issue, but it brought up many volatile emotions regarding sizing and fit. I figured what better place to express my frustration than on my own blog.
I hate size large. And I hate size extra-large. I hate the nature of generic sizing. I hate the promise that one size fits an entire group of women. “You are a size large” they say when you might fit into a size large in one brand, yet five other brands make their size large ten inches smaller in the waist and another two brands make their large two inches bigger. A size large says nothing about the bust, the waist, or the hip measurement of the ‘large’ bodysuit I just bought or the ‘large’ robe I just ordered. I have a drawer, that drawer, full of size large (and extra-large) bodysuits, panties, and miscellaneous lingerie that all sit there unworn because large was just not large enough in the right places. Sometimes it fits perfectly in the butt and the waist but not in the chest. Sometimes it fits in the chest and the waist but not the hips. A few pieces are too short in the torso. Sometimes I could not even put on the garment for fear of tearing it.
One piece is torn.
It is a black and gold see-through lace bodysuit with strap detailing on the back.
I can’t part with it.
Some designers give a size to dress-size ratio. For example: size large is a size 10 – 12 US. I’m sorry, but I’m confused! Which brand’s size 12 are we talking about here? Because, last I checked, sizing was not exactly standardized so comparing the unstandardized size ‘large’ to the unstandardized size ‘12’ is completely unhelpful.
When dimensions are given for a garment, they are often generic: a size large fits this range of measurements. Well, what if my breasts and waist fit into your large but my hips do not? Then I start consulting material: does the damn thing say anything about something stretchy? Spandex, nylon, and stretch jersey are generally good signs. Or, I look at style. If my waist and bust are close enough to the measurements and the design is A-line, then I might possibly be able to fit. Sometimes yes… and sometimes no. Worst of all, no dimensions will ever tell me the distribution of fabric from side to back to front. Sure, my waist is 33” and my hips are 45” but looking straight on you would think there is no way this chick is an hourglass as the majority of my curve is all in the back. That stunning lace bodysuit in my body’s measurements: well, it does not fit so well. It is too loose in the front and it is giving me a wedgie up the back. This is just a compilation of simple dimensions. The size of legholes and armholes is also imperative as well as the distance between shoulders. I currently have a black lace playsuit from an indie designer sitting in that drawer because the shoulder-to-shoulder spread is several inches too small for me while the entire rest of the garment fits. Who would have ever thought?
I hear many people say if you care to see your size in a garment continue being produced, then you should buy it at regular price. It shows the designer there is a demand for the product. I completely agree with that suggestion; however, for me to actually get to the point where I can comfortably buy something at regular price takes a lot of work. I need to know that the item is not going to be placed in that drawer with all the rest of my beautiful unwearables. I need the promise of FIT. For me, it means buying the item on sale first to lower the risk. Oddly enough, this is a catch 22. Buying the item on sale lowers the risk to my capital which, as a full time student, has been imperative. However, sales tend to eliminate the opportunity for return. Yet, living in Canada makes it almost never worth returning products via mail anyway because of how expensive it is to ship anywhere. This becomes somewhat of a vicious cycle when buying online.
I am a huge supporter of indie designers, but I have that drawer full of lingerie that is essentially unwearable. At a moment’s notice, I could name at least three indie designers that are in there and the only reason I cannot name more is that I’m not sure they are for sure indie or just small business. I’m kind of fuzzy on where the lines are. Fit is the #1 issue for me: if an indie designer can guarantee fit, I am all theirs and cost becomes secondary. I am not made of money, but I am willing to save up for beautiful quality purchases and I do not freak out at buying expensive lingerie. If it fits – just bloody give me something that fits. You have no idea how much it drains out of me every time I receive a lovely new piece only to try it on and have something wrong with it: it is a soul-sucking endeavour. It becomes not just about the lingerie, it translates into something being wrong with me. There must be something wrong with my body when a high percentage of the lingerie I buy does not fit. The cruel joke I tell myself is that I was made with spare parts. The leftovers of other bodies. That is why it’s hard to find a good fit… I am not standard issue.
Unfortunately, when I buy lingerie I consider five primary factors:
- How much do I love this piece?
- Does the size chart suggest it will fit?
- How much would it cost me to ship it back to them if it does not fit?
- Is it worth losing the price of return shipping (if I can)?
- How much could I resell this for on eBay or another place?
I also dream of a world where I lose weight and my body proportions shift so that the lingerie residing in that drawer fits me, or at least most of it. Hey, we all can dream.