General Question

invisiblesplosions's avatar

How did women's clothing sizes come about?

Asked by invisiblesplosions (70points) July 24th, 2008

Men’s clothing sizes reflect the actual measurements of bodies. How did the female clothing industry fail to adopt this straightforward method, and why?

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11 Answers

girlofscience's avatar

I’m not sure, but isn’t it ridiculous that women’s pants only come in waist size and not length?! I always thought that was so crazy. Yeah, some brands have adopted a “short” and “tall” version of pants, but in general, everyone who is a 1, 3, 5, whatever, are all expected to be the height that goes with it! I’m a size 1 and 5’3’’, but I always have to get my pants hemmed at the bottom, which costs an extra $12 for every pair! I don’t understand why people who are a size 1 are expected to be the same height as people who are a 7. Insanity. Men get to buy pants by waist and height! So lucky!

flyawayxxballoon's avatar

I have no idea either, wish I did. Maybe I could shop wayy easier then…

@girl ; I agree. Not only do the sizes make no sense as far as numbers 1, 3, 5, etc. go, but I have that same problem. I have trouble buying jeans because they are too short or too long, depending on the style and brand. Men are lucky…

marinelife's avatar

Here is the whole sad story. Naturally, none of the people doing it were women.

” In pre-industrial America, most clothing was crafted at home or by professional tailors or dressmakers from individual measurements taken of each customer. In the early Twentieth Century, the growing urban middle class began to purchase the affordable and fashionable ready-to-wear merchandise which new technology and industrialized production methods had created the means to manufacture.

At the request of the Mail Order Association of America (MOAA), between 1949–1952 the National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now NIST) conducted a comprehensive study of women’s body measurements to develop a sizing standard for women’s ready-to-wear clothing. Mansfield Lonie of the NBS Commodity Standards Division was appointed Acting-Secretary of the Sub-Committee on Body Measurements for Wearing Apparel Sizes and Measurements of the MOAA Committee on Standards and Terminology. Churchill Eisenhart and Lola Deming, mathematicians in the NBS Statistical Engineering Laboratory, lent their expertise to the project. ”

Seesul's avatar

You think you have trouble with pants, at least they are usually fairly easy to hem. I have short arms. Try finding a long sleeved blouse that fits when you have that problem. Have you ever tried adjusting a standard sleeve? I used to have my mom make them for me, but now that she’s gone, I just buy short sleeves or find a blouse where the cuffs will double back easily. Talk about frustrating.

mzgator's avatar

I am five feet six inches tall. A jean marked short is too short. A medium length is way too long, so I always have to have them hemmed. Hemming is expensive on top of what you paid for the jeans. It’s crazy!

syz's avatar

I am five feet tall. Short is too long and petite is too long. Every once in a while I can find something called a “short petite” and I can make do with that (although it feels kind of embarrassing to be in my own sub-category).

gailcalled's avatar

I’m 5’ 7” but high-waisted so normal is too short and long is too long. And don’t even talk about the new low-waist jeans for women with no hips…

And if someone asked Mr. Lonie was his job was; “I’m Acting-Secretary of the Sub-Committee on Body Measurements for Wearing Apparel Sizes and Measurements of the MOAA Committee on Standards and Terminology.”

TheHaight's avatar

Girlofscience; I am totally feeling you girl! I’m 5’3” and a size one/two and am always having to pay that extra money to get my pants hemmed. (but I’m kinda lucky- most of the time my grandmother will do it for me.)

fundevogel's avatar

vanity sizing. Giving womens clothing arbitrary sizes allows manufacturers to keep what their clothes say about women’s waists more abstract, if not downright deceitful. Meanwhile as size 6 gets bigger and bigger us little people end up swimming in some of even the smallest sizes available.

I just wish they would standardize it. I’ve ordered shirts online from the same shop, same brand in the same size and had to return both, one to big, one too small. Not exactly the sort of precision sizing that would make online shopping efficient.

Judith1942's avatar

When did sizes 0 through 5 enter the apparel market—what year or decade?

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