Discussion on shoe sizes with a non-metric friend, to whom I forwarded a recent posting on the subject.

What ever you people do, please give me the same choices in shoe (and
shirt) size now available.  In shoes, I take a 12 EEE! And the shoe
must really say that.  The ones that just come in "wide" are not wide
enough.  In shirts, I buy a 17-35, not a 17-34/35.  The sleeves on the
latter size are just too short, the manufactures favor the smaller of
the tow sizes.  Two inches is really a lot when measuring clothing.
Since my body is not sized in metic, I find that I am usually unable to
go to a department store and buy mass-produced Asian or South American
made clothing or shoes.  There is not 1 pair of the most expensive
Italian shoes with those crazy mm's that fit me.  They just don't fit
the dimensions of this English-unit sized body.

Actually, it's the design of Italian men's FEET that do that.  Most of them are small.  When I worked at Woodies we actually sold men's -- dare I say it, carry bags, small satchels, wallets with straps, purses?? -- reason being that European pants don't have pockets for wallets because they spoil the line (!).  So the men have to carry everything in a little thingy.  I've bought Italian shoes and they're invariably too small.

Most clothes you and I (but not Ron) buy are made to save money in manufacture and to reduce the number of different sizes they have to keep in stock.  So you get a few "fits-all" sizes, and as you and I have both found out, that doesn't work -- you either get something too big or too small.  And the economy clothing doesn't even use size numbers -- you get S, M, L instead -- those are the hardest to fit.  (This works better with clothing such as sweat pants where exact fit isn't as much an issue.)  

The problem with artificial size numbers is that they have no relation to any actual measurement.  So the manufacturer can make it any size they want.  Women's clothing is notorious for this -- as their customer base ages they gradually increase the size of each size -- so that a woman can still wear a size 8 at 40, like she did at age 20, and she feels better, and keeps buying their clothes ("I'm a size 8, I've ALWAYS been a size 8, show me a size 8").  And if you're a Junior (= teenage girl) they use odd size numbers instead!  7=8, 9=10, etc.  It really makes it fun buying clothes because you have no idea what will fit and what will not.  In many cases for me size XL will work, but in others I (reluctantly) have to buy XXL.  I shouldn't have to do that.

The good thing about measurement-based sizes is that you can buy a certain item and it will always be the same size no matter who made it.  Manufacturers can't monkey with measurements because they aren't size numbers.  This upsets people who realize that they are gaining weight!  -- which may be why no manufacturer wants to do this.  So, in the case of shoes, if you know that your feet are 270 mm, and your width is 95 mm, you can buy ANYONE'S 270 x 95 mm shoe, regardless of who made it, and it will fit.  And that works if you are in the USA, England, Italy, wherever.  No more worrying that Ferragamo's EEE (if they even MAKE it) is narrower than Florsheim's EEE.  And the advantage to cm-based measurements is that you can get finer increments without using fractions, since the cm is about 40% of an inch.  So  you can have a wider range of clothing sizes that are more likely to fit you.

Once people learn their (few) measurements, the system doesn't matter.  



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