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Vanity Sizing: Men's 36" Pants at Old Navy Actually Have a 41" Waist

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Though it's long been well-known that the women's clothing market thrives on vanity sizing—a.k.a. labeling down, sizing up—the pandemic in menswear has been less talked-about. Until now. Esquire sent a "size 36" writer into a variety of High Street stores, including H&M, Gap, and Old Navy to find out how many inches each brand's 36"-waisted trousers really measured. The results are pretty flabbergasting—with Old Navy coming out ahead at 41".

The pants manufacturers are trying to flatter us. And this flattery works: Alfani's 36-inch "Garrett" pant was 38.5 inches, just like the Calvin Klein "Dylan" pants — which I loved and purchased. A 39-inch pair from Haggar (a brand name that out-testosterones even "Garrett") was incredibly comfortable. Dockers, meanwhile, teased "Leave yourself some wiggle room" with its "Individual Fit Waistline," and they weren't kidding: despite having a clear size listed, the 36-inchers were 39.5 inches. And part of the reason they were so comfy is that I felt good about myself, no matter whether I deserved it.
· Are your pants lying to you? An investigation [Esquire]