About Me

My photo
I'm a life-long New Englander, father of 4 challenging kids (I know: I'm supposed to say "wonderful", but while that'd be true, technically speaking, it'd also be misleading), and fortunate husband to my favorite wife of more than 20 years. I've got over 20 years experience breaking things as a test engineer, quality engineer, reliability engineer, and most recently (and most enjoyably) a Product Safety / EMC Compliance Engineer. In the photo, I'm on the left.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Don't Ask, Just Tell

So I read pretty recently to never ask your significant other what she would like for a gift (I know, gifting again, right...this one evolves into something different, but it starts here).

The last time that I didn't ask, I thought that I did an awesome job in assessing the sorts of things that would benefit my wife: things that would make her a good deal more comfortable and happy. Of the four gifts that i was most happy with, all four got returned.

I did also once get her (among the jewelry) a Black & Decker cordless screwdriver, as she was continually stealing mine. I got months of crap (ribbing, really) for that, although she uses is pretty regularly and has for years.

One answer is usually clothes. My bit of wisdom: never, never, never, ever get clothes. If the article of clothing isn't the wrong size (which is a horrid sin), it's the wrong color, the wrong style, there's nothing that "goes with it"...the list of likely issues seems endless.

"Goes with it": Strike 1: I'm a guy. Strike 2: I'm an engineer. Strike 3: I grew up with all guys in the house.

This means, of course, that I've got no fashion sense whatever. I don't know what "goes" with what else.

Size in fashion is the most screwy thing in the world.

"What size are you?"


"On what?"

"What's the piece of clothing?"

"Oh, a top."


"On what?"

"Who made it."

Wha??? Why can't designers across the world standardize their sizes so that a size 10 is a size 10 is a size 10, no matter who designed it, no matter who makes it. Shoes are the same. Nike "runs small", but Adidas "runs large". How is it that you can be a 9 in one manufacturer and 9 1/2 in another? Can't these idiots get together and decide that there are so many millimeters per size increment? Or better yet: why not just size them in millimeters? My shoes might be 254mm X 120mm. Or, we might have measurements for across the heel, across the arch area, and across the ball of your foot as well. Nice, specific, and most importantly: the same for every dumb-ass manufacturer.

Of course I understand for tops or pants that it can't be just about height and weight. People are different sizes. Me, for instance: I have a big fat head and a narrow ass, which makes it all the more odd how I'm so frequently looking out at the world through my belly button.

But be that as it may, modern man should be able to figure out how to assign a few different parameters to an article of clothing so that someone looking at it (not wearing it), and knowing what their numbers are can say: "This will fit me." It really shouldn't be that hard.

It's so damn hard and arcane that a person can't even tell me definitively that a particular number will fit themselves. You have to go and try it on and see how it fits.

We were out looking for pants for me recently. Should be easy; I've been pretty much the same size for over a decade. Take a look at what I'm wearing, and get that, right? Nope. Those jeans might have stretched, but I actually got smaller recently. It doesn't seem like I got any shorter, but those damn number changed nonetheless. I'll bet they would have been different had I been at a different store.

It seems like we can put numbers on everything under the sky EXCEPT for clothing. My advice: never, ever, ever buy clothes for folks.


  1. For that very reason I absolutely detest going clothing shopping with my husband...he never gains weight (ahem) and the jeans seem to be all sized differently per manufacturer and they fit perfectly in the dressing room until he gets them home. Aaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!

  2. Yeah; add to the size confusion the fact that the clothing stores get their mirrors from the same folks who make them for the amusement parks, and the whole affair is that much more troublesome.

    If only fig leafs were still in vogue! :)

  3. I'm so happy to see a guy complain about this. I swear some clothes are made for humans I've never seen- huge bodied, with long skinny necks and short thin arms. And when did a 29 inch inseam become "regular" and "tall" become 32? So what does that make me, with a 34" inseam? A giant?

  4. You know, the other problem is that men's sizes are a different scale and format all together. I'm (currently) a 42x27... But a womans pants are just one number... a size 10? 8? WTF? Makes it so you can't even estimate a woman's pant size based off of your own.

    And to top it off, they have "Misus" or "Juniors", or "Petite" and ALL the same numbers!

    Damned humans...

  5. My patience is threadbare when it comes to buying clothes. And I, like you, have learned it's never a good idea to buy any garments for the ladyfolk. In my case, I learned that apparently, "women don't just wear lingerie under their regular clothes every day." Buzzkill, right?

  6. I have to fight to prevent my husband from going the Haband route. Have you tried shopping with the Duluth Catalog. You'll love it.

  7. Austan: sizes have been changing for years...I've heard that Marilyn Monroe wore a size 12 dress, but in today's sizes, that size 12 is more like a 4 or 6. They like to screw with us every so often, I'm guessing! :)

    Matt, I think I could commiserate with you: if it weren't for the damn humans, my life would be GREAT!

    BftS: I had a nice buzz going on until just then. /sigh

    Susan: Thanks for the tip; I'll look into them (actually, already have; Duluth looks like a lot of fun!)