Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Sizing up women

Those of you who have had occasion to compare women's clothing over multiple decades (which, owing to a very extensive hand-me-down network, includes me) may have noticed that women's size numbers undergo a periodic shrinkage. What was a twelve or fourteen in the sixties is now an eight, rapidly moving to a six.

A svelte young Elizabeth Taylor in The Last Time I Saw Paris sighs in despair, "I'll never be a size 10 again." Had she known this propensity of fashion designers, she need not have worried so much. Perhaps that's why it's done--to allow us to remain the same size while gradually expanding our figures. (She may have outpaced them by now, though.)

I notice, however, that the descriptors "small," "medium," and "large" still describe roughly the same bodies they always did, no doubt due to the lack of an infinite sequence of words to keep moving down. One can only put so many x's in front of "small" before one runs out of room on the tag.

All this would be of small concern were it not that we're getting uncomfortably close to the bottom of positive numbers. Within the next three decades, this trend is either going to have to stop, or a significant portion of the populace is going to be buying clothes sized with negative numbers.

Meanwhile men can buy clothes with their actual measurements emblazoned on the tag. What a concept.

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