Friday, February 20, 2009

Size is just another number.

It's funny, my husband is a 32x31 pant size and a 17x32/33 in dress shirts. ALWAYS. It doesn't matter who the designer is or what season it may be, I can buy pants and shirts in those sizes and outside of color or pattern preferences I know it's going to work. Not so for women.

I'm not sure what has happened in the last decade when it comes to women's sizes. When did it become so...arbitrary?

According to various sources, Marilyn Monroe at her sveltest was about 5'5 1/2" and weighed 118lbs. Her measurements were approximately 35-22-35. She was a 36D. Did you know that it is said she wore a
size 12 in a dress and a size 8 in pants, a far cry from the size 0, 2 and 4's that today's celebrities pride themselves in wearing.

But really, does it matter what the number is? Isn't the point that we want to look good in what we wear regardless of size?

A friend of mine use to work in the shoe department at Nordstrom and he said he would order extra boxes of size 7 because women would come in swearing that they were that size when they were most obviously not. His solution? "Yes, Ma'am, the box here says 7, try this on and see if it works." Anything for a sale, right?

What is it about the numbers we use to define ourselves that can make us so happy or conversely, sad, when they are not in line with what we believe they should be? Too many times we get hung up on a number - whether it's a salary ideal, a weight ideal or a clothing size. But it's just a number and when it comes to clothing (and really, LIFE in general) the number doesn't matter.

As my dear friend, Jennifer commented brilliantly on my New Year's Post:

...remember that the best clothing lies. It lies for you - makes your bum smaller (Hi Clinton!) or your legs longer, or balances your giant shoulders by nipping in at the waist. The trick is to find the right lie, the one that works best for you.

I love the empire waist tops but I look at least thirty pounds heavier in them. That's also a lie, just not a lie I want to tell! And skirts? Why show off my thick ankles? I want jeans that lie for me and tell a different story.

Jennifer is an art director for a magazine who has styled models as well as magazine pages. And she's absolutely right. Looking good is about discovering what works best for YOUR body type. I'm busty at 5'4" and a 36D. My waist, however is not a size 22 like Marilyn Monroe's and so I wear good bras (another post in the future) and clothes that accentuate the smallest part of my upper body so that I show the world that I actually do have a waist under "the girls". That may sound like a "duh" moment, but it took me years to figure this out, but once I did, I routinely heard people asking me if I had lost weight.

So today I look for what fits me, regardless of the size. I have everything from XS to XL shirts in my closet, but really, who cares what the tag says if I look and feel good about myself? A skirt in a recent Savvy Outfit of the Day is a size 10. I generally wear 4's, but look what I would have missed if I didn't try it on just because of the number on the tag.

The place we need to get is one where we are happy with where we are NOW not where we MIGHT be someday, and I think it's a life-long lesson. From as far back as I can remember, I have tried, not always successfully, to find peace and a measure of joy in the moment instead of wishing I was somewhere or someone else. It's an ideal to which to aspire because the reality is that I only have the power to affect right now. Sure I can (and should) make plans for the future, but that can all change in a moment's notice.

Corny as it may be, I've heard it said, "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it's called 'present."

So go out there ye Savvy Women and seize the present!

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