In the retail world there exists a phenomenon known as ‘vanity sizing’. Essentially this means that garment sizes are deliberately mislabelled, for example a pair of trousers labelled as 34” will actually come up as 36 1/2” when measured.
As a consequence most men are wearing mislabelled jeans or casual trousers and are under the impression that their waist size is smaller than it actually is.
So why do off-the-peg retailers lie to you?
The theory is that when you try on a pair of trousers in a shop and discover that you’re the same waist size as you were when you were 21 this creates a feeling of elation and euphoria. In your euphoric state you then buy the same pair of trousers in nine different colours, walking out with far more clothing than you originally intended to buy.
In theory you’re also more likely to return to that store because their garments are ‘correctly’ sized and they allow you to maintain the illusion. Often when I’m measuring clients in Savile Row they ask me their waist size out of curiosity, but 99% of the time they’re shocked when they hear the answer. It clearly wasn’t the size they were expecting to hear.
I don’t enjoy bringing people down to earth with a bump but the tape measure doesn’t lie and I don’t volunteer this information.