Student Research Projects

If the Jeans Fit: An Experimental Study Between Clothing Size and Self-esteem

Student Sarah Wilson ‘15 (Psychology)
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Psychology
Course Psychology 480: Original Research Project


The purpose of this study was to identify whether or not one's self-esteem would increase while trying on a pair of jeans that fits larger than expected. The larger fit, known as vanity sizing, is commonly used in the fashion industry to encourage women to purchase clothes based upon the illusion that they're a smaller size at a particular store. The first part of the experiment assessed the self-esteem and mood of the participants through the use of two surveys, the State Self-Esteem Survey (SSES) appearance sub scale and PANAS-X, mood subscale. Next, the participants each tried on three different sized jeans, but labeled as the same size; then the participants completed a self-esteem assessment, The Fit Survey, following each fitting. Finally, the participants completed the SSES and PANAS-X again. This experiment indicated that the participants' self-esteem was at its highest when wearing the jeans they indicated were their true size. It also indicated that when the jeans were too small, the participants' self-esteem was the lowest. The vanity size did not increase their self-esteem as originally hypothesized. Additionally, the participants indicated that they wanted to change the vanity sizing, rather than the small or true fits. This information will allow for future research to be conducted to include older participants and male participants.