Springfield News-Sun

Clothing size can be an ill fit

Closet purge shapes up to be an adventure.

- By Adriana E. Ramãrez Pittsburgh Post-gazette About the writer: Adriana E. Ramírez is a columnist and Inreview editor for the Pittsburgh Post-gazette: aramirez@postgazett­e.com.

A few weeks ago, in anticipati­on of all my New Year’s resolution­s, I did a closet purge. Out came the size four blue jeans I had not even attempted to put on in over 20 years, along with dresses that somehow still fit me, despite having been purchased 30 pounds ago.

Fashion is inconsiste­nt. Different sizes mean different things to different brands and different people. I can stand all day in a certain store, screaming that I fit in a size 14 in Levi’s, but that will not change the fact that I should probably be trying on the size 16 in Lucky’s.

Even writing my clothing size in this column would have been a source of anxiety for me in the past. But the truth is, I don’t know my actual clothing size. At any given moment, I can range across an entire spectrum, anywhere between a 10 and an 18, or a medium to a 2XL, depending on the brand and part of my body it is meant to cover.

The numbers fashion brands employ seem meaningles­s. According to a 2016 poll, 40% of people routinely wore clothing that was ill-fitting. That includes 25% of men and over half of women, walking around, right now, in a piece of clothing meant for a differentl­y sized person.

Glamour Magazine pointed out recently that roughly 85% of women keep clothing, even if it doesn’t fit, as do 69% of men. For many of us, giving up those size 8 jeans can feel like the ultimate failure — as if we’re giving up on ever getting back to our pre-weight-gain selves by donating, selling or giving away a pair of pants.

In order to break the hold these numbers have over us, Mariah Carey famously asks all her assistants to remove the size labels from her clothes, and for years she’s been mocked for this. But on a practical level, Carey is right: We need to let go of the number and only care about the fit.

Which meant, as I pulled out bag after bag from the basement and under my bed, that there was only one way to see what clothes actually fit me: I had to try them all on.

Some were perfect on the legs and didn’t look right at the waist. Others wouldn’t even go up my calves. A pair of pants I would have deemed “too small” on sight fit perfectly. An old sweater struggled as I pulled it down constantly.

Then there was the red dress. An old Calvin Klein number with a bright gold zipper making a pattern on the front that I wore when I was a different person living a different life. This dress reminded me of how it felt to be twenty. I loved this dress back when I wore it, and I love the person this dress conjures as it hangs in my closet.

When I attempted to put it on, I couldn’t even pull it past my hips.

I refused to accept this. I tried again. Put on some shapewear. Squeezed myself sausage until finally, finally, the red fabric made it over the part of my body that could never lie. When I looked in the mirror, I laughed. My husband came into the closet, took one look at the mess I’d made on the floor, and turned around. “You do you,” he said.

“No! I need your help to get out.”

For a few minutes, we struggled to pull the fabric off me, until I shimmied a little to the left and a little to the right. My children stopped in the doorway to watch the show and gawk at me. Finally, the dress was off and in a puddle on the floor. Everyone clapped.

“I take it that this one goes in the giveaway pile,” my husband asked. I’d sorted clothes into “keep,” “maybe” and “donate.”

“No,” I said. “I’ll keep it. You never know, I could fit in it again some day.”

After a moment of looking horrified, we both laughed. I took a picture of the dress on the hanger, a reminder of what used to be, and then moved it gently into the donation bag.

The memory mattered more than the dress. And circulatio­n in the lower half of my body mattered more than the memory.

Clothing sizes don’t make sense. But our bodies have always made sense. Our clothes should showcase how amazing our bodies are; they’ve brought us through this world and this life. I love my body, even all the soft bits.

We all deserve to look good, no matter what the label says.

 ?? DREAMSTIME/TNS ?? According to a 2016 poll, 40% of people routinely wore clothing that was ill-fitting. That includes 25% of men and more than half of women.
DREAMSTIME/TNS According to a 2016 poll, 40% of people routinely wore clothing that was ill-fitting. That includes 25% of men and more than half of women.

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