Before the invention of clothing sizes in the early 1800s, all clothing was made to fit individuals by either tailors or makers of clothing in their homes. Then garment makers noticed that the range of human body dimensions was relatively small. Therefore, sizes were invented to

  • Horizontal torso measurements include the neck circumference, the shoulder width, the bustline measurements – over-bust circumference, the full bust circumference, the bust-point separation, and the under-bust (rib-cage) circumference – the natural waist circumference, the upper hip circumference and the lower hip circumference.
  • Vertical torso measurements include the back (neck-waist) length, the shoulder-waist length (not the same as the back length, due to the slope of the shoulder), the bust-shoulder length, the bust-waist length, and the two hip-waist lengths.
  • Sleeve measurements include the under-arm and over-arm lengths, the fore-arm length, the wrist circumference and the biceps circumference.
  • However, because of the drape and ease of the fabric, not all measurements are required to obtain a well-fitting apparel in most styles.

Clothing size refers to the label sizes used for garments sold off-the-shelf. There are a large number of standard sizing systems around the world for various garments, such as dressestopsskirts, and trousers. Made-to-order garments require measurements to be taken, but these do not need to be converted into national standard form.

There are three approaches for size-labelling of clothes:

  • Body dimensions: The label states the range of body measurements for which the product was designed. (For example: bike helmet label stating “head girth: 56–60 cm”.)
  • Product dimensions: The label states characteristic dimensions of the product. (For example: jeans label stating inner leg length of the jeans in centimetres or inches (not inner leg measurement of the intended wearer).)
  • Ad hoc sizes: The label states a size number or code with no obvious relationship to any measurement. (For example: Size 12, XL.)

Traditionally, clothes have been labelled using many different ad hoc size systems, which has resulted in varying sizing methods between different manufacturers made for different countries due to changing demographics and increasing rates of obesity, a phenomenon known as vanity sizing Here you can covert sizes between international size systems for dresses, jackets, coats, blouses and sweaters.

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