When is a size 4, a size 12?


I have a bone to pick with clothes retailers.

When my wife and I visited my daughter a few weeks ago in  Washington, D.C. we decided to take her out shopping for a formal dress. She has a formal event this weekend at her college. I’m the last person you want to take shopping, but I knew that she would be hesitant to splurge on herself. I figured it was a great opportunity to reward her for all her hard work.

Now I’ve gone shopping with wife and daughter plenty of times over the years, but each time I go I’m still amazed at the challenge. It’s nothing like shopping for a man.

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I’m your typical short, frumpy guy. When I was a kid, I secretly hoped that I’d end up 6’2” or 6’ 3” or worse 6’ on the nose, but it wasn’t in the cards. So, yes, being the average 5’6″ male, it can sometimes take a little more work finding the right length, but shopping for me is certainly not that challenging.

The biggest problem, frankly is getting my butt out the door. Hence my love affair with online shopping.

A different challenge

For the women of my life, it’s a different story. And as I’m learning, it’s pretty much that way for every woman. When did a size 6 become a size 12 in another store or crazily enough, a size 4 in another? My daughter is healthy young woman, eats her brussel sprouts and spinach, no thanks to me, but finding a dress for her was a feat unto itself.

Now I was certainly picky. I wanted something as beautiful as her. Okay, I’m her dad, I have to brag a little, but every dress I picked seemed to have a different sizing standard. I found no rhyme or reason to the sizing.

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I’ve since read about vanity sizing and how dress sizes have changed over the years. One story I saw stated that a waist size 6 in the 1950s would be a size 14 today, while a 38 inch bust is now a 44 inch bust.

Yes, we’re getting bigger, but clothing sizes have changed dramatically too.

Like I said, my daughter is downright beautiful, once we made sense of each designer’s standards, we were finally able  to find the right dress. A quick trip to the fitting room and she eventually found a dress that matched her needs.

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A new role for me

My wife had a different challenge. Later the same weekend, she and I stopped in Victoria’s Secret. Now let me stop right here and say, that Victoria’s remains in my opinion, every guy’s worse nightmare. You’re not sure where to stand. There’s no safe zone to look. Do you play wingman or do you stand back and take a seat? You feel about as useful as a vegetarian in a Kansas City steakhouse. But my wife wanted to look for new pajamas and I offered to take one for the team.

When I offered to go with her, I thought my role would be the tag along-spouse. I never figured it would be for emotional support.

I left the store wondering, how a store can call itself a store, when everything on its shelf is extra, extra small? Most things I saw looked like they might fit the pre-teen down the street, certainly not a healthy, mature woman.

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Digging for the right size

Here’s what I’m talking about: My wife would inevitably find something she liked, only to be let down when it didn’t come in “normal woman” size. Yes, I know some woman are small, but not every single one.

We eventually found a few things in her size, but not without a lot of searching. I felt like we were on the search for the Holy Grail or the top of Mount Everest or even the FBI searching for Bonnie & Clyde. It certainly took the same amount of effort.

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I found the store and the sales lady who offered to help, but in turn offered none, to be useless, but we weren’t there for me.

With that shopping experience still fresh in my mind, I’ve since decided to go on strike when it comes to retailers. At least for the time being. Now excuse me while I send back that new shirt I bought online for a smaller size.

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