Bill O'Reilly claims clothes have 'stealthily' shrunk -- but the opposite is true

  • Bill O’Reilly tweeted on Tuesday that he thinks clothing sizes have gotten smaller, encouraging people to buy bigger sizes.
  • In fact, with the rise of vanity sizing, the opposite is true.

Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly thinks he found a culprit for his shrinking shirts. Clothiers using less fabric, he posited on Twitter, is surely the cause of shirts feeling tighter.

Unexpectedly, the replies were merciless.

In reality, it’s highly unlikely that O’Reilly’s new shirts are smaller than before. He says that it’s a stealthy move on the part of the clothing makers to save fabric, but a few extra inches of fabric saved wouldn’t account for the loss of sales and returned items a drastic change in size would cause. Materials like cotton are a relatively small portion of the price of clothing when labour, shipping, and design costs are taken into account. If there are any differences in the sizing, it’s more likely O’Reilly’s old shirts are just a bit stretched out compared to the new.

Clothes have actually gotten bigger over time. Vanity sizing, more common in women’s clothing where a certain size has extreme variance among brands, has also struck men’s clothing.

A size 30 pair of pants can actually measure 31, 32, or even 33 inches around, depending on where you’re buying it. A study by Esquire found that a size 36 pair of pants could measure all the way up to 41 inches around. Others have corroborated the claims – vanity sizing is real, claims one Buzzfeed contributor post.

From the retailer’s point of view, it makes sense. They’re better off lying to you than causing you to worry about your waistline. It’s a bet that you’ll be so pleased you fit into a size “30” pair of pants, you’ll purchase them immediately.

As retailers try to appeal to the broadest possible number of people, it’s unlikely clothes would shrink as obesity continues to rise.

So, unfortunately for O’Reilly, it’s unlikely that his shirts are getting smaller – he’s just gotten bigger.

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