Proof that one size does not fit all

A Brandy Melville model (left) and two BuzzFeed staff try on a 'one size fits all' skirt.

A Brandy Melville model (left) and two BuzzFeed staff try on a 'one size fits all' skirt. Photo: Brandy Melville/ BuzzFeed

We've always been suspicious of 'one size fits all' clothing. Because, err, how could it possibly?

All women's bodies were not created equal. (Just as all 'plus-size' bodies were not created equal. Contrary to popular opinion, 'plus-size' doesn't always mean wide calves and breasts that touch in the middle.)

Yet despite this, a growing number of retailers are popping up that are purporting to cater to a diverse range of body types with just one size.

One of those retailers is Brandy Melville. The Italian brand arrived in the US five years ago and has become the hot new thing among American teenagers, joining the ranks of H&M, Urban Outfitters and Forever 21.

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They claim to offer fashion for "diverse California girls". Unfortunately, their idea of diversity is reflected in one size only: small. 

As 18-year-old Lani Renaldo wrote in 'An Open Letter to Brandy Melville' in the Huffington Post: "Why is it that all the Brandy models must look the same? I mean, flat-chested, fair skinned, blonde hair."

BuzzFeed recently staged a fashion shoot that highlights exactly where the retailer's clothing goes wrong. And we mean exactly. They had five women in five varying sizes (size 0, size 4/6, size 6/8, size 14/16 and size 18) try on its 'one size fits most' pieces to see just how well they lived up to their promise.

The results were disheartening to say the least.

For anyone larger than a typical model-sized body, the tops tended to stop short before the stomach, would be too tight around the chest or have arm holes that would likely cut off circulation if worn for too long. 

When trying on a "nipply" cotton tank top, Candace, size 6/8, remarked, "I don't even have a big chest but I feel like only half of my boobs made it in. It made me feel awful about my body."

And that wasn't even the worst offender. One houndstooth mini-skirt didn't fit any of the five models. "It's tiny, like for children, but requires childbearing hips. Made for Barbie", said size-0 Allison. Sheridan, size 14/16, added, "I've always wanted a skirt that can barely clasp over one of my thighs …"

Confronted by too-short hemlines and a pair of shorts that looked more like a frilly purple diaper, Lara, size 4/6, summed up a popular sentiment among the group: "Basically, people are going to be seeing a lot of my vagina if I wear these clothes, OK???"

By the end of the exercise, everyone had a lot of feelings. As one of the women asked, "Am I not allowed to be part of the 'all'?"

Brandy Melville has been criticised for their universal-sizing approach before, but their visual manager Sairlight Saller has been quick to leap to their defence She recently told USA Today, "I don't think it causes a negative effect on the body image of any one of our shoppers because anyone can come in the store and find something. At other places, certain people can't find things at all."

There you have it. Add Brandy Melville to that growing list of retailers – the Lululemons, Vicky's Secrets and Abercrombies of this world – who should probably start listening to their customers and stop propagating the 'perfect' size mentality. BECAUSE THERE IS NO SUCH THING. There's just too much glorious body diversity out there for us all to wear the same slub grey tank tops, elasticised skirts and purple diapers.