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Quickfire’s inconclusive guide to cycle wear and clothing sizes.
I’m a great believer of getting straight to the point so apologies for ranting on about theoretical physics in a blog on clothes sizing and not just cycling clothing. I was watching a documentary on TV this week on Black Holes, that’s the ones in outer space, not the ones I keep falling down on my mountain bike. It appears theoretical physicists have found an inconsistency in Einstein’s E=MC2 or “The theory of relativity”. Basically when it comes to explanation of Black Holes, at the centre there must be even the tiniest singularity to create the intense gravity, yet the Einstein’s equation equals infinity, which according to the experts just can’t be right. They have even run the theory using “Quantum Mechanics”, that’s the calculation for things at the sub atomic level (really small) and the answer come out even worse at infinity plus infinity recurring. Now I’m not professing to understand theoretical physics but I have to admire these guys with their long formulas that can theoretically calculate something smaller than an atom at the centre of a vast galaxy of around 400 billion stars. My point being; in an age where physicists can agree, or agree to disagree about a point 27,000 light years from earth, why on Earth can't clothing manufacturers and retailers agree on a standardised sizing system for clothing?
I’m no Einstein, but I can take a tape measure to my waist and it will measure 39 to 40 inches, yet walk into a NEXT store and easily fit into a size 36 inch jeans. So, does that mean my waist measures 36 inch? Three weeks ago my wife was looking to buy so Craghopper trousers on the Internet for my nephew’s birthday and she also found some Craghoppers on sale that she thought would suit me, but they were only in 36 inch waist. I explained that I was at least a 39 inch waist, but she pointed out that my jeans were only 36 inch and clicked the buy button. The trousers were promptly delivered to my work and when I tried them on they were an exact fit, when I measured the waist it was 40 plus inches with the rear elasticised waist band fully stretched. This is what the trade call vanity sizing it’s sized to make you feel better about yourself... even though it’s a total fabrication.
“Which?” online in September 2010 titled an article, “9 in 10 women 'annoyed' by high street sizes” and claimed that of consumers questioned “82% think retailers should be clearer about the measurements they use” The article goes on to point out that the difference between a woman’s size 12 waist is 4cm between “New Look” and “NEXT”. But this is where it gets really confusing because I personally know that “NEXT” jeans and “Craghopper” trousers are up to 4 inches bigger than stated waist sizes. So, have “Which?” actually measured the garments? I would suspect not. If retailers don’t have standardised ladies Bust, Waist and Hip sizes and continue to measure with elasticised tape measures the written measurements on their Web Sites are worse than useless.
Summarily with sizes using the Small (S), Medium (M), and Large (L) as with leisure and sports clothing including cycle wear, there are also massive inconsistencies. This is often due to the markets and countries for which they were originally designed, European sizes often tend to smaller than UK and USA sizes.
The chart below takes a look at some of the size cycle shorts waist size variations in the market place I have included Marks and Spencer (M&S) casual shorts sizes because I know they reputed to use vanity sizing. It has to be said that I do know the Deko Sports waist sizes are correct as using the standard tape measure, but I have only a limited data on any of the other manufacturers sizing policies so it would be unfair to comment.
|S||27 - 29"||28 -30"||30 - 32"||30 -32"||31 - 32"||31"||up to 31"||31.5"|
|M||30 - 23"||31 - 33"||32 - 34"||33 - 35"||33 - 34"||34"||31 - 34"||33"|
|L||33 - 35"||34 - 36"||34 - 36"||36 - 38"||35 - 36"||37"||35 - 37"||34.5"|
|XL||36 - 38"||37 - 39"||36" - 38"||39 - 41||37 - 39"||40"||38 - 40"||37"|
|2XL||39 - 41"||40 - 41"||38 - 40"||42 - 44||41" +||43"||41 - 43"||39.5"|
|3XL||42 - 44"||42 - 43"||40 - 42"||N/A||46"||44 - 46"||41.5"|
Is there a sizing standard?
Yes, there is EN 13402 which has now been approved by British Standard as BS EN 13402. This is a comprehensive system of measure of off the peg clothes. As we are all different shapes, no clothing measurement system will suit all, the only real but impractical solution to suit everyone is made to measure clothes. While EN 13402 sizing is a standard it may not stop the practice of vanity sizing by the high street stores, they could still use their stretchy elastic tapes measures and invent sizes to make us feel smaller. Really, how far should we take our vanity? If you're fat, you're overweight, do somthing about it... or maybe join a weight watcher club who uses scales that tells you the weight as we'd like it to be, not what it actually is.