Size Right, Dress Right: A Guide to Fashion Standards

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As the truism goes, your skin is your life luggage, carrying your organs, bones, and liquid parts from birth to death, and sometimes you want to dress your luggage up a bit so you can find it quickly on the great carousel of humanity. Fashion is how we do that.

But there isn’t a consensus among the makers of fashion on sizing. Sometimes a Bebe dress the size of an umbrella cover slips right on, and other times you’re too scared to even take your front-butt through the doors of Free People. That’s why we’ve carefully researched the most stylish brands in the business of covering your cheese-filled bodysack in fine linens to find out their sizing models.

Read through this guide for your favorite brands to learn about how they develop their standards, and you’ll know whether to size up or size down the next time you find yourself wearing boots, undies, and a cruel against-the-bias-cut poncho in a lonely changeroom.

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Unless you’re looking for plus-sized garments, Urban Outfitters caters to a generally broad range of physiques. Their clothes are modeled on the average 20-year-old who has cut-outs in the middle of her torso and extremely long legs; alternately, they are designed and cut to fit a very high kitchenette stool. The Urban Outfitters shopper wants to flaunt her carefree attitude by letting the winds caress the interpleural space between her ribcage and lungs, and isn’t afraid to die a horrible death when the long fronds of her chiffon maxi wind themselves around her bike chain.

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Pinky Otto creates garments for petite mythological woodland creatures with plush heads and tiny hips perhaps not fit for childbirth. We recommend you size down by two, or wear their luxe designs as scarves or headbands instead.

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You may have been tempted by the spiritual designs of Free People, who cobble threads from the histories of persecuted people together into tapestries that look powerfully independent on the emaciated frames of long, lean woman who have had one or two ribs surgically removed. Don’t be afraid if your garment gives onlookers a peek of skin; if you’re thin enough, the layers should billow to and fro without showing any flesh, giving you the ghostly appearance of having no body at all. Size down by one.

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J. Crew provides easy-fitting business casual attire for slim cement blocks. If you need a larger size, head to the sales racks; that’s where they hide all the misshapen stuff.

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Anthropologie is much more accommodating of its older sisters and, let’s be honest, mothers and eccentric aunts, with generously-proportioned clothing that assumes your knees are a foot lower than in reality, just to be sure. The trick when selecting a garment from Anthropologie’s domestic whimsy collection is to only allow yourself one piece of flair (bow, lace pouf, inexplicable velvet frill) per BMI count over 20.0.