Thursday, September 27, 2007


Being in the fashion industry, I am often asked why the sizing of women's clothing varies so much. Why it's not more standard like men's.

I checked out some books from the library for work on how to grade patterns. Grading patterns is how you take a pattern that is one size and either increase or decrease it to the next size. Since I am responsible for the fit of our sizes, I want to get it as right as possible.

Well, anyway, in reading one of the books, it talked about how sizing came about & I found it interesting so I thought I would share in case you might be interested.

Women's clothing was originally based on your bust measurement, like it is in Europe. When clothing was first manufactured in America it followed this system, so if your bust measured 36", you wore a size 36. Then in the 1920's, there was a need for a younger looking garment, which was called "Missy" and adopted the 10-20 size range to differentiate itself from the women's sizes.

A California retailer of better apparel decided to change the labels on their clothes to one size larger around this time. So a size 16 was labelled a size 14. When women were asked what size they wore, the reply became "a 16 in a cheaper dress, but only a size 14 in a 'better' dress."

And this has continued to today where a size 8 has about the same measurements as a size 16 did when the size range was first introduced.

What I found the most interesting is how long ago this trend of up sizing started. Listening to the media, you would think that it was a more recent trend. But really is has been going on for almost 90 years.


ellen said...

Very interesting. Does that mean I'd really wear a size 20 (I wear 10-12)? Yikes.

beth said...

That is so cool Susan. My grandma was just talking to me the other day about how she's worn the same size since she was in her 20s, despite the fact that she keeps growing. :) hee. I thought that was pretty funny.