June 27, 2008  ·  style

Vanity Sizing for Menswear

"Vanity sizing" is nothing new to women. For years, clothiers have slapped size 6 or size 8 labels on items they know full well to be size 10, hoping the potential purchaser will feel such joy at fitting into a smaller size that she'll buy the item. We've heard that this is to some degree a necessary correction, a gradual readjustment of the size scale as the global market is skewed by the increasing average size of North Americans and the influx of tiny women from emerging Asian economies with newfound buying power. Check our site's tagline for our response to that.

While it's a bit of a nuisance for a woman to not know what size to buy, the sizing for their clothes is at least somewhat arbitrary. This isn't the case for men, as so many of our sizes are supposed to be measurements. If your neck is 16", you wear a 16 shirt. Waist is 34", you wear a 34 pant. But we've seen a steady inflation of sizes for menswear, and we demand an explanation for this f**kery. We spoke to salesmen at some top shops in search of enlightenment.

Our man at Hugo Boss, wearing a 38 suit coat when he used to wear a 40 or even 42, feels there's some merit to the changing body shape theory. "A lot of these suits are cut for a more athletic build," he tells us. "The shoulder-to-chest proportion for a 38 guy is different from what it used to be."

At Lord & Taylor we were presented with a theory for pant sizes: Contemporary trousers are lower-rise than in previous years, so considering where the garment sits, we're really talking about a hip rather than waist measurement. Seems reasonable given your average spare tire. But we aren't ruling out a vast conspiracy to (a) rake in extra shipping fees by increasing the number of online orders we have to return and/or exchange, and (b) lure us into the shops where salesmen can pounce on us, as we become wary of trusting online orders at all, figuring we have to try everything on in person to be safe.

Nobody asked us, but in any case, we're against it.

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