17 December 2009

The Physics of Fashion

Are the laws of physics universal? Maybe not.

When I go to the store to buy clothes, I have a certain size. If I get slacks with a 40 inch waist when I need a 38, I get slacks around my ankles. If I get slacks with a 36 inch waist when I need a 38, they never get above my thighs. If I get a large when I need an extra large sweatshirt, I virtually bust it. If I get a sweatshirt a size too big, I swim in it.

This makes perfect sense to me. A particular body size is appropriate for a particular piece of clothing. When I was a kid, back before the Internet was invented, we got the Sears Christmas catalog every year and it had a size chart. You measured different parts of your body with a tape measure, recorded them, consulted the chart, and you knew you size. Charts were available for boys, girls, men and women.

But, apparently, the laws of physics are now different for women. The same woman can go into one store a wear the same kind of clothing labeled extra small, small and medium. She can have an extended debate over whether she should wear the same dress from the same company in small or medium, discussing the intent of the manufacturer, her goals, and more, even after gathering empirical evidence in the fitting room by trying on both dresses, and still remain conflicted.

For men, length and size are objective. For women, they are subjective. They say that mystery is what makes women fascinate men. Maybe they're right.


Michael Malak said...

If we didn't have slave labor in China, perhaps by now we would have had fashion CNC machines to build clothing to order to exact measurements of multiple dimensions.

Mishalak said...

When I try on a pair of jeans I get different results depending upon manufacture, the season's style, and internal debates. I fit into anything from a 28 to a 30 inch waist with one pair of jeans with a lot of spandex allegedly being for someone with a 27 inch waist. I am reasonably sure that my 'real' size in 29 inches. Though perhaps that's just size inflation.