TIME Weight loss

Good News! You Weigh Less Than You Think

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Dkal Inc.—Getty Images

Call it the clothing effect, or the clothing discount – we all do it. We make allowances for the fact our clothes are probably pretty heavy

As swim suit season gets underway, more of us are probably stepping on the scale and squinting at the number that flashes back at us. Then, we do some quick mental math and adjust for the fact that we’re wearing jeans, maybe a robe, and oh, yes, that heavy sweater. So, minus 5lbs?

It turns out that scientists have actually done a real study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, to figure out how many pounds we should be subtracting for what we wear. Led by a team at University of North Dakota (because it gets really cold there, and they’re probably pretty bundled up when they step on a scale), not only did they set up an experiment to weigh people, both clothed and nearly nude, at various times of the year, they also wanted to answer the critical question of whether weighing yourself in the winter gives you more leeway to do this kind of math than in the summer, when we tend to wear less.

It turns out that, as with so many things, men and women are different when it comes to how much our clothes weigh. Men, it seems, prefer to swathe themselves in heavier garments while women tend to adorn themselves more lightly. Men can lop off nearly 2.5 lbs to account for their clothing while women can only subtract around 2. And this holds true, unfortunately, no matter what the weather outside.

So no more making allowances for that thick wool sweater. Now you know exactly how much your clothes weigh.

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