What size should I wear?

Recently, I received an order by FedEx. It was a ‘cashmere’ sweater. Only, it wasn’t cashmere. It wasn’t the right color and it sure wasn’t the right size. I had fallen prey to the proverbial “click bait,” and received the trifecta of incorrect to match my stupidity.

I had in fact been searching for a cashmere sweater. Google knew what I wanted so it pitched literally dozens of ads my way. Eventually, I succumbed to a “too-good-to-be-true” proposition. And, as you might have surmised, it was exactly that.

I get that I was hoodwinked by the color (“May differ slightly from the picture” was a huge understatement). The material was actually what it purported to be, albeit hidden in the fine print (I’m often not much for details). However, I’m not taking credit for the size mismatch. I even looked at the “sizing chart” which said I should order one size up, which I duly did. I do not know who fit in their supposed XL, but it sure wasn’t me. At best it was a Small if not XS.

This is not the first time that I have been surprised by clothes that don’t fit.  In fact, I find it almost impossible to be assured that whatever I picked was right for me. In my defense, the labeling system is all but indecipherable (given the global supply chain) and my penchant to order on-line (without the ability to try it on) doesn’t help. From petite to plus-size, from XS to XXXXL (yep, that’s a real thing), the sheer breadth of sizes is immense.

Absolutely nothing is consistent. For example, despite the little measuring template in shoe stores, manufacturers seem little interested in establishing a uniform specification. I am apparently a Size 12 with a margin of error of at least one size plus or minus. And there is not even consistency within one shoe brand. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that most shoes come from an assortment of different countries (with apparently different measuring devices). This is not to mention the fact that women’s and men’s shoe sizes don’t correspond (great for accurate gift-giving).

Despite my prior knowledge, I have ordered clothing attire that doesn’t fit only to find that I used the wrong system. I have even ordered the “right” size from the wrong continent. UK and US sizes aren’t even equivalent despite the fact we both use the Imperial measuring system.

My bad, “Thanks Amazon for free shipping and returns.” Speaking of which, my discriminating taste has eroded in the face of this amazing feature. Heck, why not order a range of sizes (and styles) when you can simply stuff it back in the package and take it to a conveniently located drop off point.

The garment industry apparently understands us better than we do ourselves (thank you “big data”). We are cognizant of our ever-changing dimensions which has now caused what might be called “size-creep.” Over time, the sizes have “grown” along with us (not withstanding Asian under-sizing). Medium is the new Large, etc.

I am also confused by some of the new terms. We now see such euphemisms as “vanity sizing.” To make us feel even better, terms like “plus size” have now become “curvy.” And what is the deal with “4-way stretch?” I get the 2-way: length and width. I might even understand a third (in and out). But am I missing something in the fourth dimension?

In the past, jeans were relatively simple: Straight or Bell-bottom (at least in the 70s). Now there is a veritable plethora of types: Regular fit, Athletic cut; Skinny; Relaxed fit (don’t I always want to feel relaxed in my jeans?). All of these come in “stretch” and non-stretch materials (I have yet to see 4-way stretch jeans, but I’m certain they’re out there somewhere). This is not to mention the waist types: Regular-rise, Low-rise, mid-rise, high-waist (Thankfully, this really doesn’t apply to me).

Clearly, I am not a “fashionista.” And one might get the impression that I take exception to the “super-sizing” of our society. Trust me, I am more than aware of the shift of my body mass from muscle to my stomach. The truth is that we are all “body conscious” and the media has been anything but kind with societal trends.

I seem to want it all: “fits great and mitigates my flaws.” It is a seemingly hopeless task. My closet is full of “almosts.” I can’t bear to throw them away (may not fit great but still serviceable). So, they stack up (literally).

I may just be a hopeless cause but every once in a great while, I find the perfect item and I am a happy man.  Now if I can just convince myself to pitch out all the other stuff.

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