Dear Women’s Fashion: Size 12 is not XL

Okay, fair warning. I have my Ranty McRant pants on again.

This time the subject that’s been weighing on my mind recently is the ridiculous–and unfair–standards when it comes to women’s clothing. My musings on the subject began a while back when everyone was sharing a post written by Kallie Provencher for called “24 Things Women Over 30 Should Stop Wearing.” No, I’m not going to share the link here because the post is pure clickbait. My reaction to it when everyone was talking about it was to tweet “The one thing women over 30 should stop wearing is the censure of random strangers on the internet.” Suffice to say, there was a lot of eye-rolling. I feel bad for the author, actually. If she’s lucky, she’s going to spend more time over thirty than under it, and according to her, life is over at twenty-nine and counting.

A beautiful rebuttal was written here, however. WarningCurvesAhead posted a brilliant collection of classy, sassy women wearing whatever pleased them–and looking smashing while doing so. I want to be these women when I grow up. I wish I had a fraction of their sense of style and their confidence in carrying off what looks great on them.

But one of the things Kallie Provencher frowned upon women over thirty wearing was graphic t-shirts. Which brings me to today’s subject: sizing of women’s clothing. Now, I’m a sci-fi geek. You can pretty much ask me about any sci-fi universe and if I can’t whip your butt playing Trivial Pursuit, I will at least have heard of it and am familiar with it. And I love my fandoms; Doctor Who, Firefly, Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate… I love mashups and crossovers. I love fanfic, fanart, and fan vids. My friends know the way to make me squeal in the ultrasonic range, so high I can only be heard by dogs, is to surprise me with something from one of my favorite shows. Just this evening, the BF surprised me with a CD of ambient engine noise from ST:TNG. Just think, now I can hear the murmur of the Enterprise’s engines lulling me to sleep on an endless loop instead of the usual white noise machine.

One of the things I love doing is sharing my fandom pride with graphic tees.

About the same time these previously mentioned posts circulated, another post caught my eye: Man Tries on Girlfriend’s “XL” Clothing and Gets Pissed About Double Standards.

Yeah, because my friends and I have been talking about this, too.

Now, for the record, let me state I am a solid size 12. There was a period of time when I was closer to a 10–there are days when I’m closer to a 14, but 90% of the time, I’m a hard 12. I wear a 36 C sized bra. Now I know in these pictures, I might look ginormous, but remember, the camera adds ten pounds. (I know what you’re thinking here, but trust me, only ONE camera is pointed at me in these photos…)

Let’s start out with a T-shirt I bought a few years ago. It’s a medium, but unisex. This is important, as you’ll see later on. NOT a men’s shirt, not a women’s shirt, unisex.

Medium UnisexYou can’t see it clearly, but it’s a “Hello, My Name is” shirt, with “Inigo Montoya–you killed my father, prepare to die” penned in. It’s also autographed. That’s neither here nor there. What’s important is the size.

This is a medium WOMEN’S T-shirt. I love Agent Carter, and this was sent to me by a friend. A friend who knows what I look like, and assumed I would wear a medium T-shirt.

Medium Women FittedOkay. I got into it, though I look a sausage encased in Saran Wrap. That’s what it felt like, too. And believe me, getting out of it was interesting. I seriously thought about using a pair of scissors… I was very disappointed, needless to say. I love this character, the show, and this sentiment. I should point out as well, that many of the graphic T-shirts I would order, like this one, do not come in a men’s or unisex option.

Right, then obviously, a medium is too small. So, when I ordered a T-shirt for myself (a lovely mashup of Frozen and Doctor Who), I ordered a large.

Large Womens Fitted

Um, I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t look all that much bigger than the medium to me. Okay, so maybe the material isn’t cutting off my circulation, but it is still sucking down to my skin like it was painted on. At this point, I *finally* took a good look at the sizing chart. That’s when I saw that a size 12 is an XL on most sizing charts for the graphic T-shirts I like.

Excuse me, WTF? 12 is considered XL? Since when? Since when does the size of the average woman in the U.S.–which is 12-14 by a Google search–considered extra-large? It brings me back to the pissed off boyfriend and the double standards of the clothing industry.

Okay. Deep breath. Order the XL. You like the shirt and you want to be comfortable. And you don’t want your arms to go numb when you’re wearing it. Exchange the large for an XL.

Here’s the XL:

XL Womens FittedNo, I am not kidding. This is the XL. It is microscopically different from the large, but honestly, it looks so much like the large I had to look at the time stamps to make sure I wasn’t posting the same picture twice. AND, I would like to point out, the shirt only comes one size larger–the XXL. That is insane. No, I’m sorry. It’s just wrong. What kind of message are we sending to young women (because obviously women over 30 shouldn’t be wearing graphic tees, right?) when 12 is considered XL? When there is so little difference between sizes that someone has to get the very largest size a product comes in just to be comfortable?

I honestly don’t know which is worse: vanity sizing, in which clothing companies mislabel clothing as being a smaller size than it is so women will feel good about buying it, or this. Itย  feels like a slap in the face either way.

BoysofSummer[The]FSOkay, rant over. In other news, Dreamspinner Press is continuing the Lazy Days of Summer sale until June 24th, which means you can get a copy of my award-winning The Boys of Summer for only a dollar! It’s the perfect beach read at the perfect price–but it won’t last long!

On Dreamspinner/Amazon/AllRomance




Fool'sGold-400x600And coming up next month, I’ll be releasing Fool’s Gold, a story about Olympic level eventing–just in time for the 2016 Games!


16 thoughts on “Dear Women’s Fashion: Size 12 is not XL

  1. So true – I have experienced this as well! (I am size 10/12.) And add in the complete disparity in sizing between different articles of clothing – even when using numbered sizes. You never really know what to get without trying on. I once got a pair of size 10 shorts which fit perfectly, so bought two other colors in the same style, brand, size – and they fit like they were two sizes smaller. Argh!

    P.S. I don’t think you look ginormous at all in the photos.

    • It’s so frustrating! Especially when buying clothing online. I confess, going to an actual store is the lowest priority on my list of things to do and I hate trying on clothes but I hate having to return something that doesn’t fit even more. Unfortunately, many of the fandom Tees are *only* available online. ๐Ÿ™

      I’ve had the same problem with buying several pants in the same size by the same company and having a huge discrepancy in actual size as well. Apparently the fashion industry is allowed to have a very loose definition of sizing.

      Hah! Thank you–I am not nearly as well-endowed as the pix imply. I think that was the angle at which I held the phone, trying to get the entire shirt in the image. Either that, or it was the rolled sausage effect by the shirt. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Women’s Fashion: Size 12 is not XLMy Profile

  2. I can wear anything from a medium to a 2XL. The medium? clothing that was made more than 10 years ago. The 2XL? More recently thrown-together garbage. I suppose some of this may be due to so many companies sending clothing to be made in China – where people do tend to be smaller than in the US – but I think it’s mostly due to profiteers who think women will pay ridiculous sums for crap we can’t wear.

    Get a man’s t-shirt that fits, cut out the graphic, and quilt it on.

    As for what women over 30 should do? Ignore the sniping from the poor little girls who don’t really understand how they’re being used to oppress themselves.

    • Yes, the medium unisex shirt was definitely the oldest of the lot. Very frustrating. It’s to the point where I don’t want to buy clothing online unless I’ve had the chance to try it on first–and that defeats the purpose of shopping online.

      As for what women over 30 should do? Ignore the sniping from the poor little girls who donโ€™t really understand how theyโ€™re being used to oppress themselves.

      I feel sorry for the author of that post. I read a LOT of this sort of thing, smug, authoritative, and dismissing of anyone over 30, always written by people in their twenties. Sadly, they’ll have a lot of time to regret writing such bullshit.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Women’s Fashion: Size 12 is not XLMy Profile

  3. OMG, so much this! I’m a size 10-12, and wear anything from a small to a large non-graphic tee, depending on the brand. Graphic tees? XL minimum, maybe 2XL, depending on the brand. That is ridiculous >:-(

    I once ordered an XL t-shirt online, and they sent a men’s XL by mistake. It was nearly TWICE as big!

    Men’s and unisex cut shirts look horrible on me; I don’t buy them because I’ve learned the hard way that I just won’t wear them no matter how much I love the design. So it’s grit my teeth and buy the XL, grumbling all the while *scowls*

    • I do wonder if there isn’t an implicit discrimination against women wearing ‘geeky’ tees or if, as others have suggested, it’s because these shirts are often made in countries where the average person might be smaller to begin with. I don’t know, but it is very aggravating.

      I agree with you about the cut of most men’s shirts, but most women’s shirts seem to be made for women with pencil-thin arms. I’m fairly muscular, and the tight sleeves literally cut off my circulation. ๐Ÿ™
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Women’s Fashion: Size 12 is not XLMy Profile

  4. I’ve given up on buying women’s tops. If I get something that does up round my god-awful cast their own rain shadow area boobs, my hands are lost up the sleeves and my navel shows. I have no idea what planet fashion designers live on but they aren’t designing for people.

  5. I wear anything from M to XXXL. Yep, 3X, which is ridiculous. Usually this last is in sexy lingerie, though it kind of defeats the purpose of sexy lingerie if the bulk of it is sized to be worn by children, not grown women. Like you, I’m a science fiction and fantasy nut who loves graphic tees. I know better than to even think I can wear a simple L. Might as well buy the XL (men’s if available) and hope for the best. When shopping online, I order only from stores with free returns because sizing can be so unpredictable. Except in socks. I have good luck with socks.
    Tali Spencer recently posted..Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Cosmic Inception, by Alicia NordwellMy Profile

    • In this store, 2X is the largest women’s size–and given the scant difference between sizes, I’m not convinced even that would be comfortable or look right. Argh, don’t even get me started on sexy lingerie–you’re right, apparently children are the only ones who are allowed to wear such things.

      Honestly, if I had the money, I’m make my own online store and fill it with the things I like to wear in the sizes I think are reasonable. And if I couldn’t find a manufacturer that produced clothing in reasonable sizes, I’d make that very clear on the website. Along the lines of ‘our clothing runs small, be sure to check the size chart before ordering’. That sort of thing. *sigh*
      Sarah Madison recently posted..Dear Women’s Fashion: Size 12 is not XLMy Profile

  6. I am lucky in a way. As a gender-fluid person with no boobs to speak of, I have no qualms about wearing men’s shirts. I love all sorts of geeky graphic tees, but I almost always look at men’s first. Even with no boobs, I’m lucky if I fit a 14. I’m usually closer to 16 or 18, so most women’s t-shirts don’t fit me at all. So, I don’t even look in the women’s section of places like ThinkGeek (though honestly, I was never a fan of the “fitted” tee, anyway). Still, even within men’s I sometimes wonder which size to buy. The few times I bought women’s, though, they were ALWAYS ridiculously different than the men’s sizes. Like, I’d get a 2XL in women’s and a medium in men’s. It’s ridiculous.

    • It is ridiculous–and many of the fandom t-shirts I like aren’t available in men’s sizes–such as the Agent Carter one shown here. Bottom line, a fitted tee isn’t going to fit my upper arm size anyway. The manufactures must think no woman has muscles. ๐Ÿ™

  7. Don’t even get me started on the sizing thing – I could go on for days! But sadly, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to wearing graphic tees over the age of 30. Damn. No one told me! So here I’ve been committing a huge fashion faux pas by wearing the wrong thing for 20 years! *orders yet another LOTR T-shirt*

  8. I’m a size 6/8. I can wear S/M in women’s fashions found in department stores, but those fandom tees are made for skinny teenage girls, not women. I had a real struggle with ordering a size L, but one thing I learned from Stacy London and What Not to Wear, is that sizing is arbitrary. Buy the size that fits you and don’t worry what it says on the label.

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