In clothing, 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 dresses, tops, skirts, and trousers. Made-to-order garments require measurements to be taken, but these do not need to be converted into national standard form.
History of standard clothing sizes
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 homes. Then garment makers noticed that the range of human body dimensions was relatively small. Therefore sizes were invented as a crucial, and underappreciated, step in the mass production of garments.
Types of measurements in standard sizes
Standard sizes take into account the combinations of body measurements of the general population:
- 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 dress in most styles.
There are several ISO standards related to Size designation of clothes:
- ISO 3635:1981 Size designation of clothes – Definitions and body measurement procedure
- ISO 3636: 1977, Size designation of clothes - Men’s and boys outerwear garments.
- ISO 3637: 1977, Size designation of clothes - Women’s and girls outerwear garments.
- ISO 3638: 1977, Size designation of clothes - Infants garments.
- ISO 4415: 1981, Size designation of clothes - Mens and boys underwear, nightwear and shirts.
- ISO 4416: 1981, Size designation of clothes - Women’s and girls’ underwear, nightwear, foundation garments and shirts.
- ISO 4417: 1977, Size designation of clothes - Headwear.
- ISO 4418: 1978, Size designation of clothes - Gloves.
- ISO 5971: 1981, Size designation of clothes - Pantyhose.
- ISO 7070: 1982, Size designation of clothes - Hosiery.
- ISO 8559:1989 Garment construction and anthropometric surveys – Body dimensions
- ISO/TR 10652:1991 Standard sizing systems for clothes
- EN 13402-1: Terms, definitions and body measurement procedure
- EN 13402-2: Primary and secondary dimensions
- EN 13402–3: Size designation of clothes. Body measurements and intervals (2004)
- EN 13402-4: Coding system (2006)
intended to replace the existing national standards of the 33 member states. It is currently in common use for children's clothing, but not yet for adults. The third standard EN 13402-3 seeks to address the problem of irregular or Vanity sizing through offering a SI unit based labelling system, which will ALSO pictographically describe the dimensions a garment is designed to fit, per the ISO 3635 standard.
The United Kingdom has an existing standard for women's clothing BS 3666:1982, however this is rarely followed by manufacturers as it defines sizes in terms of hip and bust measurements only within a limited range. This has resulted in variations between manufacturers and a tendency towards vanity sizing. Similarly a standard for men exists: BS 6185:1982 Specification for size designation of men's wear
Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia. still use the JUS (F.G0.001 1979, F.G0.002 1979, F.G0.003 1979) standards developed in the former Yugoslavia. In addition to typical girth measurements clothing is also marked to identify which of 5 height bands: X-Short, Short, Medium, Tall, X-Tall, and body types: Slim, Normal, or Full, it is designed to fit.
Numerous other national standards exist e.g.
- Germany: DOB-Verband (1983).
- Japan: JIS L 4004 (1997) and JIS L 4005 (1997).
- Korea: KS K 0050 (2004), and KS K 0051 (2004).
- Thailand: Wacoal (1981, 1987)
- US: ASTM D5585-95, 2001, ASTM D6829-02, 2008, ASTM D5585-11, 2011, ASTM D6240-98, ASTM D6960-04, 2004, Womens Plus sized, PS 42-70 Womens Clothing, CS-151-50 - Infants, Babies, Toddlers and Childrens clothing, PS 36-70 - Boys Clothing, PS 45-71 - Young Mens clothing, PS 54-72 - Girls Clothing
The common US misses sizes have not had stable dimensions. For example, the dimensions of two size 10 dresses from different companies, or even from the same company, may have grossly different dimensions; and both are almost certainly larger than the size 10 dimensions described in the US standard. Vanity sizing may be partly responsible for this deviation (which began in earnest in the 1980s). There is no mandatory clothing size or labelling standard in the U.S, though a series of voluntary standards have been in place since the 1930's.
External websites exist to aid conversion between the different systems.
|81 cm||86 cm||91 cm||97 cm||102 cm|
|61 cm||66 cm||71 cm||76 cm||81 cm|
|89 cm||94 cm||99 cm||104 cm||109 cm|
|UK & other EU / Japan||36||37||38||39||40||41||42||43||44||45||46|
|UK / US / AUS||14||14½||15||15½||15¾||16¼||16½||17||17½||18||18½|
|UK / US||XS||S||M||L||XL||XXL|
|94 cm||110||118 cm||124 cm||1|
|UK / US||S||M||L||XL||XXL|
|UK / US||38||40||42||44||46||48||50||52||54|
|UK / US||27||28||29||30||31||32||33||34||36||38||40||42||44|
|UK / US||25/26||27/28||29/30||31||32||33||34||36|
|UK / US||S||M||L||XL||XXL|
- EN 13402 – metric clothes sizes
- US standard clothing size
- Petite size
- Vanity sizing
- Size zero
- Shoe size
- Brassiere measurement
- Civilization: The West and the Rest with Niall Ferguson. 3-hour Documentary on PBS-TV. May 2012
- Stephanie Clifford: One size fits nobody: seeking a steady 4 or a 10, New York Times, 2011-04-24
- Ujevi, Darko; Szirovicza, Lajos; Karabegovi, Isak (2005). "Anthropometry and the Comparison of Garment Size Systems in Some European Countries". p. 73.
-  Dress Size Converter, 2013-04-09
- "Men's Clothing, Size Conversion Chart – South-Korea". korea4expats. Retrieved 2012-06-15.