Women’s Plus Size Clothing Charts – Busting the Myth of “True to Size”

I have my own plus size clothing company and I handle the communications with my customers as I think this is the best way to keep my hand on the pulse of my business. One question I get more times than I can count is “Are your items true to size?” I just want to shout this from the mountain tops

In an effort to better understand the sizing mystery I thought I would dig a little deeper into it by taking a look at a few major competitors.

Companies choose their own size standards for strategic reasons or at least some of them do.  Although I know this I was actually amazed how far the size chart variance was between reputable plus size clothing sites. I did find one sizing attribute that comes close to being called a standard but not really.

The different attributes are Small, Medium, Large or 1x, 2x 3x and 20/22 24/26 etc. I found that using designations such as Large or 1x is practically useless as a standard. At one end of the scale a size 1x was equal to 14/16 and at the other end of the scale a size 1x was equal to 22/24. Let’s take a look at three examples below. For our comparison we will use the size 1X

The size chart from Avenue shows a 1x starts at size 14/16 which has a bust size between 41 and 43.

Next we have JC Penny and their size 1x is equivalent to size 16w/18w which has a bust size between 41 1/2″ to 45″

Now to the upper side of the size charts we have Woman Within who’s 1x starts at 22/24 with a bust measurement of 46″ to 49 1/2″

Is it any wonder that women are confused and frustrated about buying

? Could the difference be more obvious? So why do people ask me if an item is true to size? I don’t know but I suspect a person judges “true to size” based on the conditioning they’ve experienced where they usually shop. I have to say some customers have even angrily told me I should consider making my clothing “true to size”. I just smile…sigh.

As I said previously there is a designation that comes closer than any other to a standard and that is the designation 14/16, 18/20 etc. You can see this in examples 2 and 3 but as you can also see it’s not a hard fast rule when you look at example 1.

American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) was commissioned by the U.S. government to do a study of average sizes. Because I also follow these standards I can tell that JC Penny and Woman Within are most likely following the same study according to their charts so I lend more credence to their system (and mine). =)

In conclusion, following such designations as 1x, 2x etc is almost useless unless you shop at the same place all the time. This might also explain why the oldest plus size company Lane Bryant drops these designations altogether.

Buying plus size clothing online adds more complication to matters. So what’s a girl to do since she can’t try it before she buys it? Well I think a good first step is to know your size in inches then look at JC Penny or Lane Bryant’s size chart to figure out where you fall. Let’s say you are a size 18w so you type in the keyword “plus size clothing 18w” and you come up with a Santa Clause list of online clothing stores soooo…what to do next? Well I think using actual garment measurements is useful, which I do, but the problem is not many companies list them. With that being said if you can find one that does then compare your measurements to the actual garment measurements making sure to give yourself the allowance (ease) you are comfortable with.

I hope this has helped, but if not I think at the very least I’ve put another nail in the coffin of the “true to size” myth!