Is Women's Clothing Getting Bigger?

Women’s clothing has gotten bigger, with labeled sizes now having larger measurements. For example, in 2012, size 14 women's trousers in the United Kingdom measured about 4 inches (10.16 cm) larger at the waist than the same size did during the 1970s. This practice, referred to as "vanity sizing" or "size inflation," also has occurred in the US. Dresses labeled a size 0 in 2006 were found to be roughly equivalent to a size 8 from the 1950s. Brands that make the physical measurements of women’s clothing bigger but keep the label size the same have been more likely to increase self-esteem in customers, making them more likely to purchase from that brand.

More about women's clothing:

  • One out of every eight American women report having more than 50 pairs of shoes.
  • Research has shown that that women who feel negatively about their bodies after trying on clothing are more likely to buy accessories, such as jewelry or makeup.
  • The average American household spent about 3.5% of their income on clothing in 2010.
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Discussion Comments


There is a very good reason for that - people in general are now bigger and taller than some decades ago. Just think how much taller you are than your grandmother or grandfather. (Yes, men's sizes have also this "vanity sizing". Check out some vintage clothing or visit a museum.)

This can also be seen in shoe sizes. People have now larger feet than, say, in the 1970s. Or 1940s.

The growth of people in the Western world has simply happened because of better nutrition and better health care. Even babies are born now larger - taller and heavier, than 30-50 years ago.


I know it's true. When I turned 50 at 150 pounds, I got into a size 10 bootcut jean from Gap. When I was 25 pounds lighter in 1984, I could barely squeeze into my size 10 Levis.


Yes, anon 356575, of course! Pants/jeans are higher now, but they are still sized much, much bigger than back in the 70's. I do have proof. I am 60 years old -- a young 60 who still lives in jeans and casual slacks.

I still have two of my most favorite jeans from when I was 20 years old! They are sizes 7 and 9. They still fit me just like today's jeans do, plus they are in style! Today, I have one pair of high waisted jeans, size 4! They are a bit too big but still fit fairly well. My other jeans/slacks of today are sizes 2 and 4, depending on who makes them! You can find the higher waist if that's what you want, but the sizes are still so much larger than in the 70's, in my opinion.


Actually this sounds about right to me. I was in college in the 70s and wore a size 16 in both slacks and dresses. Today I wear the current size 16, yet I am 35 pounds heavier!


This can't be right. The waist is not the same as it was in the 70s. Women wore pants with a waistline a lot higher than it is now. That's why it seems larger, but it really isn't.

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