I’ve gained about 25 pounds since the pandemic began and, naturally, some of my clothes no longer fit. It’s not the worst situation I can think of: I love shopping for new clothes, but since in-person shopping is still touch-and-go, it can be extremely difficult to find clothes that actually fit.
Luckily many online retailers have sizing charts these days and, in fact, I’ve recently been happy to see more and more places include differentiated sizes between waist and hips. Online shopping is, slowly, progressing. But in order to make use of these measurements, you need to know them. I’m embarrassed to admit that, until just a couple of years ago, I didn’t really know my measurements, and as I mentioned before, they’ve uh... recently changed. That is until I spent probably the best six dollars I have — and maybe ever will — spend, on a tailor’s tape.
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A measuring tape by any other name — At least that’s what I think it’s called. Amazon also calls it a “soft tape measure” and a “pocket measuring tape” and “sewing tailor cloth” (???), but whatever you call it, it’s a pliable measuring tape used to take your clothing measurements. Fellas, if you’re buying clothes online, you need to stop what you’re doing and order one of these on Amazon right now.
I say that not just because men are notoriously bad at purchasing clothes that fit, but also because men’s clothing sizes make absolutely no sense. I have a couple of size 34 pants that are a bit on the large side, a couple of size 34 pants that are comically small, all while my waist actually measures 38 inches. Here's what Edward Gribbin, the head honcho at the apparel consulting firm Alvanon told NPR in an interview about precisely this:
"Of the guys who actually have a waist close to the average (between, say, 38 to 40 inches), the highest percentage buy size 34 pants (close to 55 percent), followed by size 36 (about 35 percent). Only a very small percentage buy size 38."
The right fit is beautiful — You might be wondering: Why did it take you so long to get your measurements? Easy: Denial. It took me a while to come to embrace my new shape (even with my measurements handy!), and I don’t think I’m alone in that at all, and I think that denial explains a lot about why brands have decided to go with these fake sizes. Every body is beautiful, but clothes that don’t fit just don’t look good. Sure, I could get away with it because I never leave my apartment anymore, but if I look good, I feel good, and if there’s ever a reason to put in the time and the effort to get clothes that fit, it’s that.
That is not the end of the story, however. Once armed with the power of your measurements, you’ll quickly notice that there are new dimensions to shop for, and it isn’t always easy (or even possible) to find something that fits perfectly right out of the box. For example, I have a long torso and shorter legs for someone my height, and while that was advantageous on my varsity swim team, it makes shopping for clothes a little more difficult. I was recently shopping for rain pants at REI, where the sizes run a bit large, and I ended up walking out with a pair of “medium short” rain pants.
And even now, with a constantly evolving self-awareness of my internalized toxic masculinity, it took me a moment to accept that my size was, in fact, medium short. Because being tall is good, according to our messed up beauty standards. But I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty; these pants fit great, and because of that that they look great on me, and that’s all that matters.