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Women's Sizes: Different But Same

Ask any woman what size she wears, and if she doesn't slap you, chances are she will say: "It depends."

Clothing sizes can vary so drastically that off-the-rack shopping is becoming a risky proposition. The Early Show Contributor Laurie Hibberd explains that the days of shopping without trying clothes on are gone.

You can't assume for one minute that if you're a size four at one store, you'll be the same size at another store. Sizing is in the hands of the designers, and they go to the beat of their own sewing machines.

Michael Akers, an evening wear designer, explains that clothing makers may adjust or tweak the sizes in their line to appeal to the customer base. He admits that some will call a size 10 a size 8, so their clients will feel better about themselves.

Akers' fit model, Helen Powers, isn't always the same size — depending on where she shops. She is hired to be a perfect size 8, but she explains different designers will label her different sizes.

The Wolf Form Company in New Jersey makes practically all of the form mannequins used by the designers up and down 7th Avenue in Manhattan. Its CEO, Burt Hunton, says his company does have a "standard" set of sizes. However, their set sizes do not affect the discrepancy in sizing in the fashion industry. He says designers will call and ask for a form to be made using the Wolf standard size 12, and then the designers will call it a size 6.

Hunton admits it would be much easier for everyone if there were standard sizes for everyone. But he does not think a standard measurement of size will exist.

Clinical psychologist Melanie Katzman specializes in body image. She explains that women's body issues have been around forever, and are partially due to society's constant judgment of women's appearances.

However, despite how ridiculous it is for someone to not buy an item of clothing they love because it says size 6 instead of size 2, Katzman maintains it happens all the time. Clothes may be the same size, but it's the designers who are changing the measurements.

There is a movement afoot to have all sizes standardized, but it seems it'll happen about the same time all scales are balanced to weigh women the same.