THE DESIGN STUDIO: Size Guide
We at Sophie the Blog are firm believes that you can wear whatever you love as long as it fits well. But how do you know if it is going to fit well when you are not familiar with the sizing guide? Well, have I got the tutorial for you. Women's sizing it not as standardized as mens. Some reports claim that mens sizing was codified around the American Revolutionary War while women were not standardized until the early 20th century. Either way, the lack of one system for women means that there are also multiple measurement styles that can vary based on the designer.
No matter how much you love something, it is not going to look great if it does not fit. That is why we need to determine our perfect size. Take a look at these photos of really great clothes (I am still, forever later, obsessed with that Burberry wrap. I would wear it all the time). They just do not look fantastic because they do not fit.
So let's take the time to make sure we all know our perfect size. Jot them down and use them whenever you go shopping. Remember, anything can look great if you wear it with confidence and it fits well.
The first step in determining the size that you wear is to get your measurements. If you have never gone somewhere and been measured, buy this soft measuring tape from Amazon and take your measurements. It is the perfect way to ensure that all of your closes are going to fit properly.
- Bust: This is the measurement around the fullest part of your chest. Take the measuring tape under your arms and straight across your back over your shoulder blades (scapula for the anatomically correct). Measure to the largest portion of the bust, usually the center or over the nipples.
- Waist: This is your natural waist. It is where your sides crease when you work on your obliques. Take the measuring tape around the thinnest portion of your waist.
- Hips: Similar to the bust, measure at the fullest part of your hips. Take the tape around the widest portion of your hips. Typically, it is 7-9 inches (18-23 cm) below your waist.
- Arm length: For blouses, this is commonly not included for women but it is important when you are tailoring garments or when you are getting any sort of sleeve custom made. Measure from the top of the shoulder to where your wrist meets your hand with your arm straight. It is also a useful measurement for coats and blazers. It is different than sleeve length. That is measured with the arm bent and from the sternum (center chest on the front).
A note on size types
When you are in a store and you see all of the different classifications of women's. petite, girls, misses etc, these mean that the clothes in that section are designed to fit different body shapes. The standards used by most designers are for a women that is hour glass shaped. It can be difficult to find clothes that fit beautifully when they are not made to your shape. Here is what the different monikers mean:
- This is what you find in most stores. It is for the "average women" as deemed by the women's fashion industry. Clothes are made for women of average height (5'4" to 5'5") with an average bust (34C in the US) and an hourglass. For the different size types, these are usually XS - XL for categorical sizing, 0/2-14/16 for even-numbered sizing (US) or 4-18 (UK), or 32-46 (EU).
- These are usually odd number sizes and are meant to fit the teenage body. As such, they are fit for higher busts and straighter hips and bodies. In the US, this is usually size 1-15.
Women's or plus sizes
- These sizes can be for women that are larger and may have lower bust lines, as is common as women age and after childbirth. They follow the same system as the misses sizes. For the US, these are size 16/18 - 24+, UK 18-26, and EU 46-54. Categorical sizes start at 1X.
For women that are shorter in stature (than 5'4"). The proportionals are similar to the misses sizes and the sizing follows the same guidelines, sometimes with the addition of a P as in 4P.
- Less frequently found that the petite section but for women who are short with straighter bodies. The sizing follows the same size guidelines as the misses but with the addition of a JP or a P.
- The petite correspondent to the Women's or plus sizes. These are for larger women that are shorter and may have lower busts. The size guidelines are similar to the women's or plus sizes with the addition of a P.
- Usually for teenage or adolescent girls. These are cut for straighter shapes with higher busts.
- For women that are taller than average (5'8"+) with an average bust and hourglass. These sizes are denoted with the misses' size with a T.
- I have read about these but never actually seen a half size. They are commonly for shorter women with a lower bust and hourglass body shape. A 1/2 is added to the misses size. This sounds like a wonderful option for when you are between sizes but again, I have never seen one and I do not make them.
Once you know what range you fit in, it is easier to determine what size you should be wearing. Some of this is intuitive. If pants are always too long on you but fit wonderfully otherwise, try petite's. They may hit you just right. Likewise, if they are always too short, try tall. There is no charge for trying anything on and it is a good idea to try things before you buy them.
Since this is The Design Studio, a few notes on how we do our sizing for our garments. Since usually I am making them for friends or myself, I rely on measurements only. I make everything with the measurements I have so that hopefully it will fit well with the first try. When altering something, I have them try it on and pin it to them so that it looks and fits right. Once you have the measurements, it is easier to draft patterns or reuse other patterns that you know worked well.
Otherwise, I tend to rely on the EU system heavily. Ultimately, it is what you are familiar with and comfortable with. If you are in the US, the US system is the way to go. It is what you are going to see everywhere. Usually, tags list sizes in multiple systems (Like US, EU, UK, Italy, etc) so you can easily convert from one size to the other. If not, here is a handy conversion chart.