Monday, November 7, 2011

Off the Rack

The size of a problem sometimes can be measured in inches. In my case, however, the measurement itself poses a new problem.

Being neither tall nor short, thin nor fat, lands one in a confundatory middle ground that clothiers must assume can be served with approximates and guesstimates. The exceptionally-sized people of the world might find it frustrating never to be able to purchase clothes off the rack, but what they don't appreciate is the Law of Acceptability those of us who can have had to accept.

Do these jeans look good on me? Well, they poof out around your ass and make your legs appear bowed. But they fit around the waist and hang well at your heel. They're acceptable.

I have managed to reign in my weight recently, so I don't need a thirty-six inch waist. However, I certainly haven't shed enough pounds to warrant needing a thirty-four inch waist. What I need at times like these is for some retailer to order and stock pants that measure thirty-five inches in the waist. Yet, for some reason, the only jeans I regularly find in a thirty-five inch waist are buttonflies. It bewilders me that they even make buttonflies anymore. I had a pair of buttonfly jeans back in high school and I nearly peed myself five times just trying to get the damn things off in time.

And don't get me started on shirts and suit jackets.

When I buy a suit, it's a silly exercise for the tailor to even wrap the tape measure around my chest. I need a forty-three regular. Okay? Got that? A forty-three regular. Now, go into any men's clothing store and try to find me a forty-three regular. Regardless of the store, there are always only five crammed between the forty-twos and forty-fours, and they look like they've been hanging there since 1944.

Shirts are easier to find, but we go right back to the Law of Acceptability.

How does this shirt look? Well, it's baggy around your belly and you're tucking three extra feet of shirt into your pants. But it fits you well across the chest and the collar is roomy enough that your head doesn't look like it's going to pop off. It's acceptable.

A large shirt is just small enough to restrict breathing, pinch my armpits, and untuck if I so much as think of moving. An extra-large shirt, which is what I end up buying, can sometimes make me look like a kid who raided his Daddy's closet for a game of dress-up.

Maybe someday, before I die, someone somewhere will realize that people come in all shapes and sizes, including those in between the ones they already think we are.

© 2011 Mark Feggeler


  1. Hi Mike - From a garment manufacturer's perspective, here's what you're asking for. You're asking for us to make clothing for every possible size and shape.

    So let's say we identify FIVE basic body types. Then we have them all come in five sizes, from XS to XL. That's 25 patterns. Multiply by the number of styles in any given season.

    Then, decide how to fill the racks. Type 1 and 2 get 30% of the space. Types 3 and 4 get 30% and Type 5 gets 40% because after years of research we know that this is the best seller.

    Now, Type 1 has 15% of the space. Divide that by all 5 sizes. There will be maybe 2 mediums and one of each other size.

    The manpower cost of creating and fitting five separate fits makes it ineffective to take on this project because all you're getting out of it is one shirt, per type, in the store. Give or take. But you get the idea.

    I'm not even going to get into the difficulty of finding (and paying for!) fit models for each type....

    You have to also do this math when asking for odd numbered sizes, in that it DOUBLES the number of possible sizes the store has to buy.

    But wait a second! I just thought of something.

    Again I've working in garment manufacture a long time. And you know what? We ALWAYS grade to odd sizes in sized (meaning numeric) garments. So what's happening to you?

    The store isn't buying the odd sizes. So here's what I'd do. Go to the website of the company who makes the garment. See if it's available through them in odd sizes. If it the store to find out if they bought the odd sizes. Let me know how it goes.

  2. Maybe this marks me as juvenile, but this sentence had me laughing --> I had a pair of buttonfly jeans back in high school and I nearly peed myself five times just trying to get the damn things off in time.

    Thanks for sharing. :-)

  3. My pleasure, Karen. Thanks for reading!