Imagining Thin: Why Vanity Sizing Works

8 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2015

See all articles by Nilüfer Aydinoğlu

Nilüfer Aydinoğlu

Koc University

Aradhna Krishna

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Date Written: December 13, 2010


Vanity sizing, the practice of clothing manufacturers, whereby smaller size labels are used on clothes than what the clothes actually are, has become very common. Apparently, it helps sell clothes — women prefer small size clothing labels to large ones. We propose and demonstrate that smaller size labels evoke more positive self-related mental imagery. Thus, consumers imagine themselves more positively (thinner) with a vanity sized size-6 pant versus a size-8 pant. We also show that appearance self-esteem moderates the (mediating) effect of imagery on vanity sizing effectiveness — while vanity sizing evokes more positive mental imagery for both low and high appearance self-esteem individuals, the effect of the positive imagery on clothing preference is significant (only) for people with low appearance self-esteem, supported by the theory of compensatory self-enhancement. Our suggestion of simple marketing communications affecting valence of imagery and consequent product evaluation have implications for many other marketing domains.

Suggested Citation

Aydinoğlu, Nilüfer and Krishna, Aradhna, Imagining Thin: Why Vanity Sizing Works (December 13, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Nilüfer Aydinoğlu

Koc University ( email )

Rumelifeneri Yolu
34450 Sar?yer
Istanbul, 34450

Aradhna Krishna (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

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