I’ve heard from many sources (and so have you, no doubt) that in the market for women’s clothing, sizes vary from store to store and over time within the same store. The sizes keep adjusting, so that what was a large twenty years ago is today’s medium. Women’s vanity keeps the labels on expanding clothes relatively stable. (Before resorting to the Marilyn Monroe objection, read this.) And of course, this isn’t limited to women. Men’s clothing is usually measured in inches, not in sizes, but where there are more or less arbitrary sizes the labels stay the same while much of the clothing gets larger. (For instance, go to Walmart and try on your normal t-shirt size. You’ll find it’s larger.)

This trend is well-commented on in other spheres, so I don’t have to do it here. What made me think of it is that on the packaging of a scale I just took out of the box, the screen shows 126.4 lbs as its sample weight. This sounds like a reasonable average weight to show, given that both adults and children of all sizes could be expected to use it. But I wonder if this, too, has shifted based on the increasing average weight of its potential buyer base.

It makes me wonder if Big & Tall Men’s stores are doing better or worse relative to their sales records of the past. On one hand more men are becoming potential clients, but on the other hand standard retailers are encroaching into the territory.

UPDATE: Via an article on Cracked.com, this article from Esquire is about men’s pants—the kind supposedly measured in inches—expanding also. I hope the reader will forgive me for not being aware of this as I pretty much stick to Wranglers, not the brands mentioned in the article.

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Author: rfmcelroyiii

Student and instructor of economics.

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