Women's clothing sizes can be a bit confusing at times, especially since there is no standard. Every brand fits a little differently, and the process of finding proper-sized clothing can become a chore. Consequently, the lines between misses and plus sizes can blur.
Misses size clothing is an even number size beginning with 2 and ending at 18, though some brands vary and stop sizing at 14 or 16. Misses sizes are cut larger than juniors sizes, particularly through the bust and hip. A woman who wears a 4 in a misses could very well fit into a 7 in juniors sizes.
Plus sizes begin at size 20, or 1X, the size after XL. Women's clothing isn't usually labeled XXL like men's clothing. Instead, plus sizes start after XL and progress to 1X, 2X, 3X and so forth. Some stores or brands start plus sizes at 18, while others begin with 14. Some brands specify plus sizes with a "W" after the number size. The difference between women's and misses' sizes are that women's sizes are cut differently, with deeper arm holes, lower bust lines and a larger waist, than misses. Consequently, women's sizes are approximately one size larger than comparable misses sizes.
Juniors sizes are odd numbers, usually beginning with size 1. Because the United States is not held to a standard of sizing clothes, there has been a phenomenon labeled "vanity sizing," in which the same size keeps getting bigger while retaining the same size number. Accordingly, juniors' sizes have added size 0 and 00 to accommodate that phenomenon.
In Europe, sizes are for the most part standardized, though not every country there follows the same rules. European sizes are the standard for Germany and the Scandinavian countries. The United Kingdom—England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—uses its own set of sizes. France and Italy each have there own unique size standards.
The phenomenon of "vanity sizing" has caused confusion in the clothing industry. Some brands have changed their labeling to a smaller size in an attempt to appeal to buyers. In a culture where small is desirable, vanity sizing is a marketing ploy. This departure from an overall sizing standard makes it difficult to know what size you would be, for example, in a vintage dress or a pair of jeans made 15 years ago.
Gemma Craig began writing in 1993, expanding to various websites in 2007. She writes about interior decorating and design, travel, film, literature, technology and consumer electronics. Craig's work has been published in "Spinner," "USA Today" and numerous regional newspapers.