Women’s Sizing: TeeFury Edition

So, on December 6th, I saw something on The Mary Sue that made me fangirl just a little.


That is a t-shirt, referencing an iconic scene from the Girl in the Fireplace episode of Doctor Who (S2, e4). It is also referencing Harry Potter and floo travel, by replacing Reinette with Hermione. In other words, this simple and amazing t-shirt design references not only two of my all-time favorite fandoms, but two of the most feminist, iconographic characters/ storylines within those fandoms. I don’t even wear t-shirts normally, but I knew I had to have this beautiful, glorious shirt.

I immediately went to the TeeFury site, and learned that TeeFury is some sort of limited-time-only seller, and time was quickly running out on this particular shirt. I had less than 15 minutes to make the purchase.

Truth is, I have a tendency to talk myself out of unnecessary (and, frequently, necessary) purchases. I’m very much a, “fix-it-up, wear-it-out, make do, or do without,” type of gal. I don’t really splurge on myself, ever. I suspect that’s part of the reason I love gifts so much, because I don’t tend to buy myself those sorts of inessential enjoyments.

My husband has been encouraging me pretty strongly to stop being quite as self-sacrificingly frugal as I normally am and to occasionally splurge on myself. This t-shirt is something I’d classify in the “splurge” category, which is probably why when I decided to go through with the purchase, I didn’t let myself stop to think it through. I just guiltily barrelled ahead, justifying my actions by the ticking clock in the upper corner of the screen.

I talked myself into it.

Anyway, I bought the shirt. I ordered an adult women’s XL. Normally I wear a size 12 in pants, and a size L in tops. I know women’s clothing is famously and ridiculously unreliable when it comes to sizing, so I always order up a size when I order clothing online. I figure if it’s too big, it’s easier to alter it than to go through the complaint/ return process.

So I pay the $17 for the shirt ($14 + $3 shipping/handling), and just need to wait. It arrived on December 18th, and I gleefully tore open the packaging — only to stop, stunned, in disappointed disbelief.


The shirt is tiny. Tiny. In my rush, did I order a small? I check the tag. 


This shirt is ridiculously small. For comparison, here are my other two t-shirts, which were purchased well over a year ago at a second-hand store, and have therefore been washed and shrunken accordingly. The Simpsons one is a European size M, and the Nerds one is an American size XXL.

teefurycompare1 teefurycompare2.1teefurycompare2teefurycompare2.2So those are the other two t-shirts I own.* The Euro M is (as you can see) slightly larger than the American XXL. It’s roomier in the bust, longer in the torso, and all around a more comfortable t-shirt. These are the three t-shirts layered on top of each other: The Euro M on the bottom, the American XXL in the middle, and the TeeFury XL on the top.


Noticing how the Euro M is the longest one? Yeah, I noticed that, too. I wondered if maybe I had ordered a “youth” size by accident. I compared it to one of my 11 year old son’s shirts, out of curiosity. It took some doing to find a Youth L, which is the closest I could get to an XL comparison — my son normally wears Youth M, so this Youth L is actually one of his “growing into” shirts, the kind meant to last a school year and a half.

teefuryyouth1 teefuryyouth3

Don’t mind the water spots in the second picture, I had to iron his tag flat for the close-up. You can see, however, that my adult XL shirt is barely an inch longer than my 11-year old son’s youth L. I put my shirt underneath his, because it is equivalent in chest breadth, so if my shirt was on top, you would only be able to see the edges of his sleeves. This way, you get a better idea of the size comparison. 


This is his t-shirt sizing tag. I should note that because this shirt was purchased in September of 2013, it has been through the wash and therefore shrunk.

In fact, as a general note: The TeeFury 100 percent cotton shirt has not yet been washed/ subject to shrinkage, all shirts being compared to it have been.

What with the size similarities, I wondered if maybe I had accidentally ordered a Youth XL. I mean, it is just barely longer than the Youth L, and I was in a hurry. I went to my email to check the receipt.


Nope. I ordered a womens XL. Apparently adult women are supposed to have the bodies of prepubescent boys. Frustrated, I checked out the size chart at TeeFury — something I probably should have down before eagerly throwing $17 at them, but really, who would think they would size adult women closer to youth sizes than actual adult sizes? Because that is exactly what they did:

teefury size chart

I know that womens sizing is a joke in the U.S. Being a woman who shops for clothing in the U.S., I can’t help but be aware of the havoc so-called “vanity sizing” has played in our clothing industry. It’s ridiculous and frustrating, and even though I’m upset, I’m also giving TeeFury the benefit of the doubt.

It is entirely possible they just never really stopped and looked at their women’s sizing — it seems unlikely, but they do seem to be a small company/ art-focused start-up type deal, and stranger things have happened. I mean, if they’re just getting the art screen-printed onto some default t-shirt supplier they work with online, then maybe they never stopped to actually look at the sizes. I dropped them a real quick note to give them a heads up.

I don’t know if you realize this, but your adult women’s shirts are barely bigger than youth shirts. As in, I purchased an XL adult women’s shirt, and it fits my 69-lb 11 year old son (who normally wears a boys/ youth M or L) better than it fits me (a 180 lb 33 year old adult woman who normally wears a size 12 or adult L). There’s absolutely no room for shrinkage at all. I don’t even have a particularly large chest; I wear a 32B.

I was shocked at how tiny the shirt was; I actually thought I had mistakenly ordered a youth size. It wasn’t until I went and looked at your measuring chart that I realized you guys are selling “womens sizes” that are only an inch or so off youth sizes.

I’m not sure if you’re aware of that, or if no one ever actually stopped to look at the actual measurements, but I’d highly recommend you reconfigure your women’s sizing to make the t-shirts more accessible to a higher proportion of the population.

Aside from the size and the thread coming loose on the left sleeve, the shirt seems to be of good quality, and they have lots of cool designs — I’d love to purchase from them again, if they just start offering sizes for adult women. 


ThinkGeek Adult Mens Size M vs. TeeFury Adult Womens Size XL

teefurymedium1 teefurymedium3

*I generally wear dress shirts, tank tops, camisoles, or nice sweaters.


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