My city has the only Me-Ality machine in Canada. It’s a body scanner that tells you what clothes sizes fit you best. You make an appointment for a scan, and the attendant matches your specs against a database of retailers that they partner with. I had to wait about two months for a free scan, and I was super-curious as to how it would turn out.
These body scanners are installed at some US malls and used to have the brand name IntelliFit.
Of course, I had lots of questions. Was I exposing myself to X-rays for the sake of shopping? No, it is a millimetre wave scanner, which uses non-ionizing radiation – like the scanners in smaller airports – the ones that are NOT being removed. Would I be selling out my personal details for perpetuity? Maybe – I had to provide my name and email address, and create an account on their website. Would there be intense sales pressure? There wasn’t – the office actually had nothing to sell.
I stepped into the machine and the wand circled around me in both directions. It reminded me of being in a touchless car wash 🙂 It literally only took about 15 seconds. Then the attendant verified my email address and set me up an account. She walked me through how to view clothes on the website and find out my sizes.
Interestingly, you don’t get a body scan photo or a print-out of your measurements. So the company has that data about you, but you don’t see it. The point is that you don’t need it because they do the size matching for you, and you don’t have to compare your own measurements to a chart. With all of your personal data humming in the background, it can show you a page of (for example) the top 10 jeans that will fit you best from among their partner retailers.
I have a particular interest in jeans at the moment. I finished up a lengthy weight-loss program since I last did serious jeans shopping in 2008! Needless to say, the styles, washes and fits have changed since then. So my first “project” was to see if their jeans recommendations would work for me. I limited my list to the brands I could find in local stores. I printed them off and set out for the mall (which is strange in itself because I rarely go mall shopping)!
Weirdly enough, even though I don’t shop much, I tend to have good luck when trying on pants – I think I have a realistic sense of what will fit me and I don’t get sidetracked by wishful thinking! I don’t shop at stores that are super-trendy or youthful, like garage or boathouse (cough, cough). I have a pear-shaped figure and my usual problems with jeans are gapping at the waist or buying too large. I can wear super-low-rise though, should I want to (??)
I was very annoyed when I brought the first pair into the fitting room and I could barely get them on. One of my reasons for doing the body scan is that I wanted to avoid “feeling fat” and being discouraged in the changing room because “nothing fits me.” So I was off to a bad start. I quickly realized that the sizes I was given were based on my exact body measurements, with no allowance for getting them on and off, or being able to move. Silly! Going up one size gave me enough of a margin to function, and going up two sizes gave me more of the roomy fit I am used to. So, no Old Navy size 6s for me – as if! The size 8s were breathable and the size 10s comfortable.
The same pattern reoccurred in each store. I tried on Silver/Suki jeans at Bootlegger, Guess Daredevil Bootcuts at The Bay, and Eddie Bauer Curvy jeans. In each case, I could squeeze into the recommended size, but would never, ever wear clothes that tight. I would have when I was 14, though. So maybe the sizing algorithm was designed for teens?
Finally I tried on the 1969 Curvy jeans at The Gap and they fit just right. I had to laugh, because of all the styles I tried, they were exactly the same kind of “Mom jeans” I would have bought anyway!
It was an eye-opening experience. The trend now is for skinnies, straight-legs and boot cut jeans, or at best a little flare. My legs are not built for any of those. Despite being at a good weight, my legs are curvy at every point, and I have chubby knees 🙂 I did learn which of the brands made jeans in those styles that I could actually get into. I just don’t…want to.
I did learn that I should always look for the curvy fit and not bother trying on the straight cut jeans unless I want to go many sizes larger.
When I got home, I measured myself with a tape measure and compared my actual measurements to the online jeans size charts at The Gap, Old Navy and Eddie Bauer. This process was much more accurate and pointed me to the sizes that I felt comfortable wearing. Low tech trumped!
I am in the market for a pair of dark wash, non-skinny jeans that I can wear to work. Apparently the proper name for this profile is “trouser leg jeans.”
So, armed with my new knowledge, I am going to take my almost-50-year-old self back to Reitman’s and Mark’s where I always shop, and buy nice-fitting jeans for a grown-up!