"Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence."
— Michael O'Brien
We're proud to feature "The Low Carb Good Life" by regular columnist Brenda Crump, who's also
one of our smart and resourceful moderators at Talking Low Carb (our Low Carb Luxury Discussion Forums.) Brenda has found the keys to making low carb a true lifestyle, with proper
nutrition at the heart of it all!
So you've lost weight. Your old clothes are baggy enough to cover not only you, but a
small family of squatters and their dog as well. Time to shop for some new attire in
a smaller size! Seems like such a straight forward quest. And it would be. If only the
number on the size tag had even a passing acquaintance with the actual dimensions of
I recently found myself with plans for an evening out that included dinner at a very
nice restaurant, followed by some live music at a club. I do own a "little black dress"
and I could have easily worn that. But in the last twelve months, that dress has
attended numerous birthday and anniversary dinners, a wedding, a cocktail party and
several evenings out with my husband "just because". Though it isn't ready for retirement,
it has certainly earned an extended vacation.
When I mentioned my plans to my friend Donna, she rushed right over with several really
nice outfits for me to try. The clothes she brought do not fit her anymore and they were
headed for a resale shop anyway. She mentioned that because they were mostly size 10's,
they might be too large on me. But why not try them and see?
The first outfit I select is a silky, black, two piece pant suit. The pants slip on
pretty well until they reach the thigh area. They button and zip without a problem, but
that thigh region is still uncomfortably tight. If I wear these to dinner, I'll have to
eat standing up. Someone is bound to notice that.
I decide to try on the jacket, thinking it might cover the worst of the thigh situation.
The jacket is enormous on me. I know I had hands at the ends of my wrists before I put
this jacket on. But they've mysteriously disappeared. Since I'm pretty sure that I'll
need the use of my hands at some point during dinner, I'll pass on the jacket. Odd isn't
it how both items are labeled size 10, yet one is too small on me and the other is too
large? All the more perplexing when you consider the fact that I normally wear a size
Next I decide to try on a clingy, flowy, sleeveless black dress with rather high slits
in the skirt. This dress is a size M. I slip the dress over my head and quickly discover
that it was clearly created for a much, much taller woman. I'm sure it was intended to
hit right above the ankle. On me, it is brushing the tops of my feet. This means that
those oh-so-sexy slits are starting just at my knees. Even more distressing is the top
portion of the dress. On me, it is just like those really athletic looking swimsuits
that the East German ladies wear at the Olympics. Have my shoulders always been this
beefy, or is it just this dress? Next!
I note with a small degree of fear that the next garment is a pair of leather pants,
again in a size 10. I've never worn leather pants before. As big as I was, I always
thought people would look at me and start mentally calculating how many cows had to give
their lives so that I could be fashionable.
With my heart hammering in my chest, I carefully start sliding them on. The first sign
of trouble is of course — the thigh area. Luckily, that stop was only temporary, but
the one that occurs at the hip region appears to be a deal-breaker. Should I keep tugging?
I begin to perspire, which isn't helping me at all. They don't seem to be budging. I
pull harder and start doing a little shimmy, frantically wondering if, in fact, you can
tear leather. You can't tear leather, can you?
It is only grim determination (I AM a size 8, dammit!) that gets those pants over my hips.
For no logical reason, once the pants are up — they button and zip with no problem at
all and fit me very well. I'm wearing leather pants! I am elated! I look in the mirror. I
am not elated anymore. There is an odd bulge in an area where a woman wouldn't normally
sport a bulge. Since I have no interest whatsoever in being mistaken for a hermaphrodite,
I wisely elect to not wear the leather pants to dinner.
This is all pretty discouraging to me. I worked very hard to lose this weight and I really
felt that I'd "arrived" when I could fit into a size 8. And now, without gaining any
weight, I'm suddenly too big for size 10's! I am starting to feel like a failure. I've
nearly resigned myself to yet another evening in the "little black dress" when I realize
that there is one more item for me to try on. A short, black, stretch velvet skirt - also
a size 10.
The skirt not only fit me, it fit me perfectly. It was very comfortable and ended up
being the ideal choice for my evening out. It wasn't the size that I wanted to wear, but
that hardly mattered once I put it on and saw how it looked.
So what's the lesson to be learned? That sizes are just arbitrary numbers that a diverse
group of manufacturers assign to their goods. There is no such thing as standardized
sizing in the clothing industry. Sizes are based on the dimensions of a fit model or
dummy that the designer considers "average". The trick is to find the designer or
manufacturer whose idea of "average" most closely matches your body type.
Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind the next time you are trying on clothes:
Bring a few different sizes into the fitting room with you. The number on the tag isn't
as important as how well the garment fits, how it looks on you and how you feel when
you're wearing it.
There's more to fit than just being able to button and zip a garment. Check for "ease".
This means that you should be able to slide a thumb into the waistband without discomfort.
You should be able to pinch at least an inch of fabric at the bust and side seams. If
there is no straining or gapping of the fabric, you have enough "ease" for movement and
Be sure that collars fasten comfortably and that there are no gaps around the neckline
in front or in back. Sleeves shouldn't have large folds at the armhole and they shouldn't
bind or pull when you move. There should be no gapping or pulling at the bust. Any pleats
should lie unopened and flat.
If the clothes that you try on are usually too long, with waists that are too low or
sleeves that are too long, consider trying the petite section. You may not think of yourself
as petite, but you might get a better fit in them.
You may find that in order to achieve the proper fit, you need a larger size than you
thought you would. If that number really bothers you, but you love the clothing, cut the
tag out and forget what it said. Don't settle for something that fits poorly and isn't
comfortable, simply because it's the size you want to wear.
The number on the tag only tells a small part of the story. If the clothing fits well and
looks great on you, your self-confidence and positive attitude will tell the rest.
Copyright © October 2003 Brenda Crump and Low Carb Luxury
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