Size deflation

I bought a jacket yesterday.

In itself, that is hardly worthy of comment. But in the process of trying on jackets–and I tried on quite a few–I learned something that strikes me as strange. I am “small.” In fact, I am 5’9″ and about 155 lb, which is the average height for an American man, and a healthy weight for my height. One might think this would make me “medium,” and in the past, that was the size I would grab first. But yesterday, the only jackets that fit me were smalls. I tried on a few mediums that might as well have been tents.

Sizes go way up–all the places I looked had XXL jackets–but what about guys who really are small? There were no sizes smaller than “small.” There was no short-men’s section tucked away in the corner of Dillards (though there was a big-men’s section there). What do they do? Shop in the boys’ department, the way Prince does?

I think it’s widely known that women’s sizes have undergone a radical deflation over the years. I was vintage-shopping with my sister once, and remember her trying on a 30s-era dress that was size 14. Going by modern sizing, she’d wear a 4. It seems that, as Americans get bigger, something similar is happening with men’s clothing.

2 thoughts on “Size deflation”

  1. Also 5’9″, and I’ve found that the younger the cohort, the less 5’9″ is “average” and the more it is “short”. Among people my age (31), the “average” seems more like 5’10”; and among teenagers it seems up to 5’11” or so. I think the Depression-era people weigh down the “average” and make it fairly unrepresentative of useful reality, unless you’re shopping for old-person clothes.

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