In 2002, I purchased my first J.Crew dress–a coral sheath. I wore it until it fell apart. It was my first expression of love for the classically styled brand that embodied the simple elegance of a world filled with Martha’s Vineyard vacations and post-work cocktails with men who looked like Cary Grant.
Then, things changed.
My ardent love for J.Crew did not go out in a blaze of glory like the Bon Jovi song commands. Instead, it slowly suffocated due to rapidly decreasing quality, prices adjusted to be discount-solvent, odd brand collaborations, and the overindulgence of Jenna Lyons’ cult of personality. Sadly, J.Crew long-ago stopped producing the quality basics that were once the brand’s signature. Remember when the quality of the cashmere didn’t suck and the pencil skirts had waistbands wider than a No. 2 Ticonderoga? Misty, water-colored memories…
But the biggest culprit in my dwindling affection for the J.Crew brand is their sizing policy.
For those not familiar with the concept, vanity sizing is when brands increase the measurements of their clothing without changing their size guide so that eights become sixes, sixes become fours, etc.. It’s a process that even Cosmopolitan magazine, the publisher of The Best Sexual Position For His Zodiac Sign, described as “out of whack with reality.”
When I bought that first dress twelve years ago, I was 117lbs and purchased a size six to keep my 35″ hips comfortably contained. At 135lbs with a 38″ hip, their size chart says I should require a six–but that guide is a chronicle of lies. Last week, I ordered a dress from their summer collection in a size two. It’s roomy in the waist, and the bust needs to be taken in over an inch.
How can a woman gain nearly twenty-pounds and be two dress sizes smaller? It defies logic.
Vanity sizing is based on the misguided notion that you need to lie to women in order to sell clothing. It promulgates the damaging concept that self-worth is directly proportional to clothing-tag size. And negatively effects girls’ feelings about their bodies before they’re mature enough to know that they’re defined by more than a number assigned to them by a clothing company.
Now, J.Crew has jumped the shark on a rocketship and launched a size 000/XXXS. Defenders argue that this is a great thing for petite women, but J.Crew already has a petites line that offers a size 00.
If you need to create clothes with smaller measurements in the name of inclusivity, as the brand’s spin-doctors will suggest, wouldn’t the logical thing be to expand the sizes upward, making the measurements for 000 the new 0, and offering a size 24?
Has Mickey Drexler decided that being honest about selling clothing in larger sizes would kill the “J.Crew mystique” that’s made him millions? Will the fashion “it girls” who sing Jenna Lyons’ praises turn up their perfectly powdered noses at a brand that offers a size 24? Why else would the company fight reality by inventing numbers and adding more x’s to their size chart than an adult film franchise? J.Crew’s In Good Company, now sponsored by Jenna Jameson…
Do they really think that a woman will refuse to purchase the size that looks best on her body because the tag number insults her fragile ego? Aren’t women made of stronger stuff than that?
Perhaps, instead of monkeying with the size guide, the powers-that-be at J.Crew should be asking themselves why almost no one gets excited about their clothing until they offer it 40%-off already sale prices? Maybe while they’re at it, they can figure out why the Super 120s pencil skirt I bought in 2008 still looks new, but the one that I bought last November looks like I rescued it from the bottom of the discount bin at the Goodwill.
I want to live in a world where a dress is labeled by its size, and a woman isn’t. Where we recognize that buying a flattering item of clothing is about finding the subjective, brand-driven size that flatters your body best, not squeezing into the one with the smallest-number-possible on the tag. Instead, I live in a society where womens’ measurements are posted on their Wikipedia pages and anyone whose body doesn’t fall into single-digit size is made to feel deficient.
I won’t support J.Crew’s decision to expand their sizing downward because it feeds into the notion that clothing size is a scarlet letter. The practical and reasonable thing to do would be to create a measurement’s guide that isn’t abhorrently dishonest, accepting that the brand now sells size 24 clothing. Because contrary to what the Vogue-obsessed fashionistas who hashtag-thinspo on their Pinterest pages might say, there is nothing wrong with wearing or selling size 24 clothing.
So go ahead J.Crew, subscribe to the Triple Trac Razor theory of marketing and sell your clothing in size 000. At the rate your tag sizes are shrinking, I can keep eating donuts and tacos with reckless abandon and be wearing size XXXS by the end of this decade.
If you love this post–or just agree that vanity sizing is a symptom of a retail-world gone mad–Facebook it, Tweet it or share it. Who knows? Maybe if enough of us say, “Hey, I’d like an honest size guide that doesn’t defy the laws of mathematics, and rely on the notion that I’m emotionally unequipped handle a number on a tag,” someone will listen. And, Mickey Drexler, if you’re reading this, however you were making the cashmere sweaters in 2004 is how you need to go back to making them. xoxo, Belle