Shop Talk • The Invention of Standardised Sizing

Shop Talk • The Invention of Standardised Sizing

January 09, 2018

 Hey Guys,

Hows it going? I hope you had a great Xmas and New Years. Hello 2018!

At Alt Finery this week I have been doing quite a few alterations, and we have also received some beautiful Vintage dresses up to size 5XL. Which is great as we are catering to all sizes and shapes and altering in store so we are specifically fitting out each of our lovely customers. This had me thinking a lot about sizing this week and how it evolved.

  The sizing system as it exists is essentially, a system built on practicality. A "guideline" to fit clothing on a mass scale. On the downside, Its something that frequently frustrates people and makes them feel like they don't even want to try clothes on and leaves people feeling bad about their bodies. I really hate that. It just crushes my soul to see people upset when they are not the perfect size range. Truth....very few people are. In fact in may surprise people to know, standardised sizing has only been around since the 1940s and they STILL haven't nailed it.

Before the 1940s sizing for children and young women was based on age, womens sizing was based on bust measurement, but is was assumed that every woman could sew her own clothing, so pre made sizing wasn't really a consideration.

A system to standardise sizing was first conceived in the U.S. As population expanded and  people started to move out to more rural areas, the U.S catalog industry boomed. Initially, catalogue clothing companies would create outfits for customers off 59 measurements  taken,   But in an an effort to cut costs and stream line their process the industry took the first steps to create a Standardised Sizing System.

The first system was based on a small cross section of the public and was based mainly on the bust measurement and assumed an hour glass figure shape for women. The next effort in the late 1940s was more comprehensive in terms of measurements, but was based off data that the National Bureau of Standards had collected off women in the military. Sizes ranged from 8-38, had 3 different height variations and a plus or minus for girth. 

Over time, probably due to better economic times and plenty, the girth of the general population has expanded, and the standard government sizing chart was dropped by most labels, who now use their own sizing charts. Vanity sizing (where the smaller your size the bigger your status) especially with the more elite labels does occur, now including smaller and smaller sizes. But there is also a push in the opposite direction too, where larger sizes are becoming more stylish and easier to obtain.

What i find interesting in these times of technology accelerating is that fashion seems to be turning away from the mass market consciousness, and is looking to provide the customer with a more personalised experience.  This is especially evident in "Brick and Mortar"stores, who in an effort to compete with online stores, are providing a more personalised where sales assistants are taking on the role of personal stylists.

There is also talk with new technological breakthroughs where the day will come when we walk into a change room, our body will be scanned and clothing the style and size you require will be generated by a 3D Printer.  

At Alt Finery, We cant promise 3D printed clothing ...yet. But what we do offer is personalised fitting and alteration on purchases in store to combat the problematic nature of Standard Sizing. We want everyone to feel Amazing in what they wear.

Have an Awesome week. 

Love Sam xxx




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