May. 29th, 2016

ritaxis: (hat)
So I did buy a lovely pair of red suede sneakers. The sole on these is actually lighter than the sole on the shoes they're replacing, so they feel very nice. Also, I barely needed to size up on them, whereas in the model that was more like the ones I'm replacing the size difference was more clear. What I think I will do is wait until winter to replace the (new! this year! and already bought twice because the first pair was stoilen off my porch!) hiking/rain boots.

But while I was there I decided to just check my size on the good old Industry Standard Foot Rule that they keep at the shoe store. Just to check, you know, and to be able to say what my "real" size is...

Well. That was a surprise, and it leads me to ask some questions about the shoe industry. Because according to the good old Industry Standard Foot Rule that is the same in all shoe stores in the United States and has been exactly the same in design as long as I can feet are size seven and a half. Which is still a change since high school, remember, when I measured a size six (but always bought sevens because 7D would go on my feet and 6EEEE didn't exist). But I have to buy size nine--for length. Not for width, which in this particular style was quite well addressed by the 8-1/2.

Now, I'm used to this in the garment industry, but there the discrepancy is largely in the other direction. I mean when you buy clothes at the store the size is about two sizes smaller in name than it is in the industry standard that it's made to. So if you buy a size 20 shirt in a department store, and then you decide to make a shirt from a pattern, most likely you will need a size 24 pattern. Not that you can find a size 24 pattern for a wearable shirt currently-- pattern companies have abandoned my size range again, which I suppose is just as well as they've also given up actually drafting larger patterns and just increase some of the outlines and leave some of them the same without rhyme or reason. I've bitten the bullet and determined I have to draft my own patterns from now on. I have even made an agreement with Emma to spend a day sometime soon taking each other's many measurements and drafting slopers together. She's the expert after seven years in theatrical costume shops.

To return to shoe sizing and what is so puzzling about this. It's easy to see what has happened to department store clothes sizing, especially when you add in the observation that if you wear a size 20 in an inexpensive department store you will fit into an 18 or even a 16 in an expensive one. Obviously there's a bit of vanity sizing going on there. Historically, I know, too, that the entire garment industry re-organized sizing about 45? years ago--I was alive and aware but pretty young--and the "new" sizing put smaller numbers on bigger sizes. That was not the whole of the reform--if I remember right, they also aligned different body type sizing ranges so that their numbers looked more similar to each other and changed the names of some of the sizing ranges. So there are at least two forces in sizing misalignments in women's clothes: vanity sizing and attempts to rationalize sizing. And another one: periodically, deigners will come up with their own proprietary new size ranges that are supposed to address some problem or other in sizing and promise the buyer a better size. So that works against rationalization by proliferating new size ranges.

But what is going on with shoes? Supposedly most people can buy almost the exact same size, give or take a half size, in any brand of shoes. I've never heard anyone com plain that they have to buy a six in one brand and an eight in another brand, which people do complain about with respect to women's clothing (I myself have bought reasonably-fitting clothes labelled in a six-size range). I can't comment directly on this because at any time in my life there's usually only one brand of shoes that sujits my purpose. For a long time it was Drew, and now it's Keen.

But if it's true that shoe sizing is pretty consistent across the industry, and yet the shoes I just bought are labeled a size and a half  larger than the industry standard, does that mean that the shoe industry has unanimously adopted a new secret standard for shoe sizes? Why? And if they've done that, why is it in this direction? Do shoe buyers really want to think their feet are longer than they are? I thought the idea of having big feet was still mildly embarrassing to people who cared about it at all. Has this changed? Well, I know men sometimes brag about how big their feet are,  but they usually do it by way of complaining about it.

Well, this is trivial, but it occupied my mind for a bit. Later I have something to say about the folkdance memorial I attended last night.

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