Kate L. sent us a link to a post by Esquire’s Abram Sauer, who took a measuring tape to the “36 inch waist” men’s pants at seven chain stores to see if the purported 36-inches was accurate (story).  He discovered, indeed, that all of the companies were engaging in at least some “vanity sizing,” the labeling of larger clothes with smaller sizes (the fashion equivalent of grade inflation).  Flowing Data made an easy-to-read figure (all pant sizes are marked “36 inches):

For more psychology of marketing, see our posts on the meaningless discount, the location of outlet malls, and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.