HowWeDidIt Series: The "Un-Standard" Size Guide – A Vent Session

One of the most annoying things as a customer is picking out a dress in “my size” and then realizing that I can’t zip it up or it falls off my shoulders. Sometimes it’s a matter of half an inch here and there; other times, I have a hard time believing whoever created the garment intended it to be the size that’s stated on the size label. What’s up with that??
V-back dark green work dress for plus-size womenWell, it turns out that there is no standardized sizing. Actually, that’s not totally fair -  ASTM International (aka the American Society for Testing and Materials, aka an organization that develops and publishes technical standards for a bunch of different products) has a standardized size chart (you can see it here) but in reality, it’s up to the brands to do whatever they want in terms of sizing. Hence why you can be a 12 in one brand, a 14 in another, and an 8 somewhere else. Which is obviously mind-boggling and incredibly frustrating.

As a new brand, we were worried as heck about what to do with respect to sizing. What to do when there is no standard and yet so many women view the size number as something that, rightly or wrongly, defines them? BTW, side note - this isn’t a problem for just the plus or size-inclusive brands; this is something that straight-size designers must grapple with as well. In short, the industry really needs to come up with a standard across the entire size scale – not only does this make life easier for the customers (“I’m a size 12 and that’s what I’ll order from any brand”), it also makes a ton of economic sense for the brand (fewer returns since customers know exactly what size to buy). Of course, this isn’t a perfect system – many of us are one size on the top; another on the bottom. Or we may be in-between sizes; the ultimate size will depend on the body / garment silhouette.  Regardless, one standard massively simplifies things.

Ava James NYC collectionHow did we get around it? We ended up getting the measurements from a bunch of different brands and did extrapolation / averaging to get to our size guide. We recognize that this isn’t the perfect solution and that’s why we offer free shipping and returns (personally, I refuse to buy from any brand that doesn’t offer free shipping and returns).

What has your experience been? Tell us about your fit experience and how we can improve!

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