You realize you need a new pair of jeans so you schedule a shopping pitstop into your day. Because you already know your size, it shouldn't take that long. You decide you want a different brand of jeans than the ones you already own, so you hit up a new store to try some on. You pull out a pair of denim in the same size as the old ones you're wearing, but head to the dressing room just for good measure. As you try to put the new pair on, you realize they don't fit even though you were wearing that exact size a few minutes ago.
Don't worry, it's not just you. And no, you haven't gained or lost enough weight to be an entirely different size in a matter of minutes. In fact, there's something much more frustrating going on here.
In a video for Vox, video producer Dion Lee investigates the discrepancies in women's clothing sizes. She heads to three popular women's clothing shops to purchase a size 4 pair of jeans from Zara, Forever 21, and Topshop.
"They were all labeled as a 4, but the results were vastly different," Lee wrote in an article for Vox. "The pair from Zara ended up fitting very loosely on my waist, while the ones from Forever 21 were so small that I couldn't even zip them up. The jeans from Topshop were the only pair that actually fit me properly."
So, what's the deal?
The reason sizes can vary so much from store to store could be because companies use sizes as a marketing tool to target various demographics. That means sizes can vary even within brands that are owned by the same company: Your size at Gap may be completely different than your size at Banana Republic.
Lee spoke with Lynn Boorady, PhD, an associate professor and chair of fashion and textile technology at SUNY Buffalo State, to learn more about women's sizing.
"It's not you, it's the industry," she said in the video. "It's not women's bodies. We're fine the way we are. They're just random numbers. They don't mean anything and if you don't like the size, just cut it out of your clothes."
Armed with this information, you should never, ever feel bad about having to go up in size at certain stores to find the right fit. Your clothes should make you feel confident. Don't let a number on a tag keep you from that.
For more information on the sizing subject, check out Vox's video below: