Have you seen this cool new website, What Size Am I? You use the sliders to put in your bust, waist, and hip measurements, and the site tells you which sizes at which stores are likely to fit you. Right now the site is of limited usefulness to me in figuring out where to shop, because it only goes up to size 16 -- maybe there'll be more sizes in version 2? But I still think it is an amazing tool, because it paints a clear picture of exactly what is wrong with the way we do sizes.
How the site works is, it plots your bust, waist, and hip onscreen, forming a curve out of the 3 numbers. For folks with hourglass proportions, the curve looks like a U. For folks with straighter proportions, the curve is shallower, and closer to a straight line. Here are a few random graphs using measurements from customers I have had in just over a year of business -- the client measurements are represented by the black curve.
Pretty wide variation, right?
Now check out the curves created by the measurements corresponding to store sizes -- the gray lines on the graphs above. Unlike the individuals' curves, these show almost no variation. The proportion between bust, waist, and hip is basically the same shape across all the sizes and all the stores.
These graphs show it clearly: if your curve is different from the check-mark-ish curve that this mix of stores designs for, you are largely SOL.
For a very long time I have felt that seriously 99% of what is in shops is not meant for my body type, and I have to say that seeing the data visualized in this way makes me feel vindicated. I'm not crazy and I'm not deformed … most clothes really just aren't designed for me!
What do you think about all this? And where would we outliers be without stretch clothing? One shudders to think.