Two nights ago my wife and I were putting together a Fall clothing order for the family online from J. Crew. They are currently running a 25% off promotion through Halloween, and we thought it was a great way to get some new clothes for everyone this Autumn. She was thinking about getting this sweater, but, take a look, the sizes run from XXX-Small through X-Large. What is that about? My opinion is that it is a marketing “gimmick” to have as many customers as possible feel good about their size; it’s not maliciously done and I have no real issue with it, but it is a “gimmick” nonetheless. The women buying XXX-Small feel good about themselves because society has taught women to be as skinny as they can. The women buying a Small feel good because they might be a Medium or a 8 or 10 or something else at some other store. What J. Crew has essentially done is shift the size scale to offer more sizes to more customers. Instead of the simple three offerings of Small, Medium and Large, J. Crew has put together a way to offer seven different sizes while simultaneously helping as many customers as possible feel happy about their size. I think it is crucial to point out here that you should not feel good or bad about yourself because of the letters on the tags of your clothes, nor is this a commentary on sizes or marketing at all. I am only giving this as an illustration of how this shared shopping experience got me thinking, “Man, it’s definitely easier to be a guy when it comes to shopping.”
Why is it easier to shop as a guy? Well, most men’s clothes are sized by measurements using inches or centimeters. That’s simpler than Small, Medium or Large. It’s certainly simpler than 2, 4, 6 or 8. I’m not sure how or why sizing developed this way, but I’m thankful. I can take my shirt measurements, waist size or inseam to most stores and find clothes that fit. This especially great for online shopping where I don’t have to worry about sending most things back because I know they will fit. Over half of what my wife orders online is usually sent back. Thankfully, as online shopping has grown over the last decade, most retailers have made returns relatively easy by including return shipping labels with your orders. Unfortunately, some retailers still charge you for return shipping failing to realize the likelihood of additional orders that come with easier online shopping. The two easiest places I have found for shipping and returns are Bonobos and Charles Tyrwhitt. Both stores don’t charge for return shipping and will exchange items for at least six months after your purchase!
There are some times you do have to read the fine print or be prepared to send something back. Bonobos cuts their pants with a curved waistband. Their pants fit great, but the ninjas (Bonobos customer service team) do recommend ordering one size down as a result. Additionally, in this new world of traditional fits, slim fits, extra slim fits, etc. it’s important to realize that all fits are not created equal. What may be slim for one retailer could be traditional for another. This is where the ability to buy and return really comes in to play. Don’t be afraid to try multiple fits and only keep what you like. It is always critical to remember you are the customer and that you should never pay for anything you don’t love.
Two final comments about men’s sizing. First, it’s important to remember to be honest about your size and stick to it. If you have a 38 inch waist, size 38 pants will look better on you than size 36. It’s not about the size you want to be, it’s about the size you are, and clothes designed for the size you are will sit and drape better than clothes that aren't. Second, as I said, should not feel good or bad about yourself because of the letters or numbers on the tags of your clothes. However, if you do want to be a smaller or larger size, then only you can do something about it, but do it because you want to, not because you think you should be something you’re not.