US standard clothing size

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US standard clothing sizes for women were originally developed from statistical data in the 1940s–1950s. At that time, they were similar in concept to the EN 13402 European clothing size standard, although individual manufacturers have always deviated from them, sometimes significantly.

However, as a result of various cultural pressures, most notably vanity sizing, North American clothing sizes have drifted substantially away from this standard over time, and now have very little connection to it. Instead, they now follow the more loosely defined standards known as US catalog sizes.

Body measurements below are given in inches.

History[edit]

Men's standard sizes were probably developed first during the American Revolutionary War, and they were in regular use by the American army during the War of 1812 for ready-made uniforms (Felsenthal 2012). These were based on the chest measurement, with other measurements being assumed to be either proportional (the circumference of the neck, waist, hips, and thighs) or easily altered (length of the inseam) (Felsenthal 2012).

As this was largely successful in men, the same approach was attempted in the early 20th century for women using the bust as the sole measurement (Felsenthal 2012). However, this proved unsuccessful because women's bodies have far more variety in shape. The hourglass figure is frequently used as an industry standard, but only 8% of women have this body shape (Felsenthal 2012). A woman with an hourglass figure and a woman with an apple-shaped figure who have the same bust size will not have the same waist or hip sizes.

This was a significant problem for mail-order companies, and several attempts at predictable, standard sizing were made (Felsenthal 2012). In the 1940s, the statisticians Ruth O'Brien and William Shelton received a Works Progress Administration grant to conduct the most ambitious effort to solve this problem. Their team measured almost 15,000 women across the US. After discovering the complex diversity of women's actual sizes, which produced five to seven different body shapes, they proposed a three-part sizing system. Each size would be the combination of a single number, representing an upper body measurement, plus an indicator for height (short, regular, and long) and an indication for girth (slim, regular, and stout). The various combinations of height and girth resulted in nine different sizes for each numerical upper-body measurement, which was highly impractical for manufacturing (Felsenthal 2012).

As a result, O'Brien and Shelton's work was rejected. In 1958, the National Bureau of Standards invented a new sizing system, based on the hourglass figure and using only the bust size to create an arbitrary standard of sizes ranging from 8 to 38, with an indication for height (short, regular, and tall) and lower-body girth (plus or minus). The resulting commercial standard was not widely popular, and was declared voluntary in 1970 and withdrawn entirely in 1983. In 1995, ASTM International published its own voluntary standard, which has been revised since then (Felsenthal 2012). It has not been widely adopted.

Women's sizes[edit]

Women’s sizes are divided into various types, depending on height. These charts give an indication of size only and are by no means exact as they vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, sometimes by a full inch up and down.

Overview[edit]

There are multiple size types, designed to fit somewhat different body shapes. Variations include the height of the person's torso (known as back length), whether the bust, waist, and hips are straighter (characteristic of teenagers) or curvier (like many adult women), and whether the bust is higher or lower (characteristic of younger and older women, respectively). These categories include:

Misses sizes
The most common size category. For women of about average height (5'4") with an average bust height and an hourglass figure. Dress sizes may be given as girth at the bust in inches (e.g., 36), but even-numbered sizes from 2 to 16 are more common. Categorical sizes range from XS (extra-small) to XL (extra-large).
Junior sizes
For short women with higher busts and fairly straight bodies. Junior sizes are commonly given as odd-numbered sizes from 1 to 15, which correspond to the next number up in misses' sizes.
Women's sizes or plus sizes
For larger, curvier women of average height, sometimes with lower bust lines. Like misses' sizes, the sizes may be given as a dress size based on the bust measurement, but they are usually given as even-numbered sizes from 18 up. Categorical sizes usually range from 1X (similar to extra-large, but with slightly different proportions compared to the misses' size) up.
Misses petite
For short women with average busts and more hourglass body shapes. Sizes follow the misses' standard and are marked with a P, as in 10P.
Junior petite
For very short women with average busts and fairly straight bodies. Size may be denoted as "5JP" or as "5P".
Women's petite
For larger, curvier, shorter women, sometimes with lower bust lines. Sizes are marked the same as women's with a P, as in 20P.
Young junior
For short women with high busts and fairly straight bodies.
Tall sizes
For taller women (usually 5'8" or above), usually with a proportionately average bust height and an hourglass figure. Sizes are usually written with the corresponding misses' size and a T to indicate tall, as in "10T".
Half sizes
For short women with lower busts and more hourglass body shapes. Sizes are written with a ½, as in "10½".

Details[edit]

Please compare to your favorite fit charts. These measurements conflict with many other size charts. These charts are significantly smaller than many current US clothing companies.

Misses’ sizes (PS 42-70)[1]
5'2½"–5'6½" tall, average bust, average back
Dimension/size 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22
Bust 31½ 32½ 33½ 35 36½ 38 40 42 44
Waist 22½ 23½ 24½ 26 27½ 29 31 33 35
Hip 33½ 34½ 35½ 37 38½ 40 42 44 46
Back-waist length 14½ 15 15¼ 15½ 15¾ 16 16¼ 16½ 16¾
Misses’ sizes
5'5"–5'9" (165–175 cm) tall, average bust, average back
Dimension/size 6-8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22
Bust 32-34 34 34 35 36 37½ 39 40½
Waist 22-24½ 25½ 26½ 27½ 28½ 30 31½ 33
Hip 33-35½ 36½ 37½ 38½ 39½ 41 42½ 44
Back-waist length 14½ 14¾ 15½ 15¾ 16 16¼ 16½ 16¾

[citation needed]

Miss petite sizes
5'1"–5'3" (157.5–160 cm) tall, average bust, shorter back
Dimension/size 6-8mp 10mp 12mp 14mp 16mp 18mp 20mp 22mp
Bust 32-34 34 34 35 36 37½ 39 40½
Waist 21-23½ 24½ 25½ 26½ 27½ 29 30½ 32
Hip 34-35½ 36½ 37½ 38½ 39½ 41 42½ 44
Back-waist length 14 14½ 14½ 14¾ 15 15¼ 15½ 15¾

[citation needed]

Junior sizes
5'4"–5'5" (162.5–165 cm) tall, higher bust, shorter back
Dimension/size 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21
Bust 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38
Waist 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Hips 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
Back-waist length 13.75 14 14.25 14.5 14.75 15 15.25 15.5 15.75

[citation needed]

Junior petite sizes
5'1" (155 cm) tall, average bust, shorter back
Dimension/size 3jp 5jp 7jp 9jp 11jp 13jp
Bust 30.5 31 32 33 34 35
Waist 22.5 23 24 25 26 27
Hip 31.5 32 33 34 35 36
Back-waist length 14 14.25 14.5 14.75 15 15.25

[citation needed]

Young junior sizes
5'1"–5'3" (155–160 cm) tall, higher bust, shorter back
Dimension/size 5/6 7/8 9/10 11/12 13/14 15/16
Bust 28 29 30.5 32 33.5 35
Waist 22 23 24 25 26 27
Hip 31 32 33.5 35 36.5 38
Back-waist length 13.5 14 14.5 15 15.5 16

[citation needed]

Women’s sizes
5'5"–5'6" (165–168 cm) tall, average bust, average back
Dimension/size 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50
Bust 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54
Waist 30 32 34 35.5 37.5 39.5 41.5 43.5 45.5
Hip 39 41 43 46 48 50 52 54 56
Back-waist length 17¼ 17⅜ 17½ 17⅝ 17¾ 17⅞ 18

[citation needed]

Half-sizes
5'2"–5'3" (157.5–160 cm) tall, lower bust, shorter back
Dimension/size 10½ 12½ 14½ 16½ 18½ 20½ 22½ 24½
Bust 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47
Waist 27 29 31 33 35 37½ 40 42½
Hip 35 37 39 41 43 45½ 48 50½
Back-waist length 15 15¼ 15½ 15¾ 15⅞ 16 16⅛ 16¼

[citation needed]

Men's sizes[edit]

Men’s sizes
Dimension/size
38 40 42 44
Chest 34 36 38 41 42 44 46 48
Waist 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42
Seat/Hips 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47
Shirt sleeve 32 33 33 34 34 35 35 36
Inseam 30 31 32 32 34 34 34 36

[citation needed]

Girls' sizes[edit]

Girls' sizes
Dimension/size 7 8 10 12 14 16
Chest 25.5 26 28 30 32 34
Waist 22.5 23 24 25 26 27
Hip 26.5 27 29 31 33 35
Height 52 54 57 60 64 67

[citation needed]

Boys' sizes[edit]

Boys' sizes
Dimension/size 7 8 10 12 14 18 20 22
Chest 26 27 28 30 32 33½ 35 40
Waist 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Hip 27 28 29½ 31 32½ 34 35½ 37
Neckband 11¾ 12 12½ 13 13½ 14 14½ 15
Height 48 50 54 58 61 64 66 68

[citation needed]

Children's sizes[edit]

Children's sizes
Dimension/size 1 2 3 4 5 6 6X
Chest 18.5 20 20.5 21.5 22 23
Waist 17 18.5 19 20 20.5 21 21.5
Hip 19 20 21 22 23 24 24½
Height 31 34 37 40 43 46 48
Back-waist length 9 10 10½ 10¾
Finished dress length 17 18 19 20 22 24 25

[citation needed]

Baby sizes[edit]

Infant sizes
Dimension/size NB 0-3 mo 3-6 mo 6-9 mo 9-12 mo 18 mo 24 mo
Weight 5–8 lb 8–12½ lb 12½–16½ lb 16½-20½ 20½–24½ lb 24½–27½ lb 27½–30 lb
Height less than 21½ in 21½–24 in 24–26½ in 26½–28½ in 28½–30½ in 30½–32½ in 32½–34 in.

[citation needed]

Toddlers' sizes
Dimension/size 1/2 1 2 3 4
Chest 18.5 19 19.5 20 20.5
Waist 17 17.5 18 19.5 20
Height 28 31 34 37 40
Finished dress length 14 15 16 17 18

[citation needed]

Conversion from catalog sizes[edit]

Companies who publish catalogs may provide the measurements for their sizes, which may vary even among different styles of the same type of garment. The sizes seen in catalogs generally have roughly the following measurements:

Catalog misses' sizes: 5'5"-5'6" (165–168 cm) tall, average bust, average back
Dimension/size 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
Closest standard size 10 12 14 16 18 20 22
Est. height 5'4" (162.5 cm) 5'4" (162.5 cm) 5'4.5" (164 cm) 5'5" (165 cm) 5'4" (162.5 cm) 5'6.5" (169 cm) 5'6" (168 cm) 5'6" (168 cm) 5'6.5" (169 cm)
Est. weight lb (kg) 115 (52) 125 (57) 135 (61) 145 (66) 155 (70) 165 (75) 175 (79) 180 (81.5) 195 (88.5)
Bust 34 35 36 37 38.5 40 41.5 43 44.5
Waist 25 26 27 28 29.5 31 32.5 34 35.5
Hip 35.5 36.5 37.5 38.5 40 41.5 43 44.5 46

[citation needed]

Catalog women's petite (half-sizes): 5'1/2"-5'4" (153-162.5 cm) tall, lower bust, shorter back
Dimension/size 18W 20W 22W 24W 26W
Closest standard size 12½ 14½ 16½ 18½ 20½ 22½ 24½ 26½ 28½
Est. height 5' 1/2" (153 cm) 5'1" (155 cm) 5'1.5" (156 cm) 5'2" (157.5 cm) 5'2.5" (159 cm) 5'3" (160 cm) 5'3" (160 cm) 5'3.5" (161 cm) 5'4" (162.5 cm)
Est. weight lb (kg) 125 (57) 140 (63.5) 155 (70) 170 (77) 180 (81.5) 190 (86) 215 (97.5) 225 (102) 235 (106.5)
Bust 36 38 40 42 43.5 45.5 47.5 49.5 51.5
Waist 28 30 32 34 35 37 39 41 43
Hip 38 40 42 44 45.5 47.5 49.5 52 53.5

[citation needed]

Catalog women's sizes: 5'5"-5'6.5" (165–169 cm) tall, average bust, average back
Dimension/size
Closest standard size 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50
Est. height 5'5" (165 cm) 5'5.5" (166 cm) 5'6" (168 cm) 5'6" (168 cm) 5'6.5" (169 cm) 5'6.5" (169 cm) 5'6.5" (169 cm) 5'6.5" (169 cm) 5'6.5" (169 cm)
Est. weight lb (kg) 145 (66) 160 (72.5) 175 (79) 190 (86) 205 (93) 220 (100) 235 (106.5) 250 (113) 265 (120)
Bust 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54
Waist 30 32 34 35.5 37.5 39.5 41.5 43.5 45.5
Hip 39 41 43 46 48 50 52 54 56

[citation needed]

With the average American woman's height (20 years and older) at about 63.8" or approximately 5'4" (162.1 cm) (Department of Health 2012), both standard and catalog size ranges attempt to address a variety of weights / builds as well as providing for the "shorter-than-average" height woman with "petite" and "half-sizes". However "taller-than-average" women may find their size-height addressed by manufacturers less frequently, and may often find themselves facing issues of slightly too short pant legs and sleeve cuffs, as well as waist lengths.

Standards[edit]

Current and former national standards:

  • ASTM D5585-95, 2001, Standard Table of Body Measurements for Adult Female[2]
  • ASTM D6829-02, 2008, Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Juniors
  • ASTM D5585-11, 2011, Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Adult Female Misses Figure Type, Size Range 00–20
  • ASTM D6240-98, 2006, ASTM D6240-98 Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Men Sizes Thirty-Four to Sixty (34 to 60)
  • ASTM D6458-99, 2006, Standard Tables of Body Measurements for Boys, Sizes 8 to 14 Slim and 8 to 20 Regular
  • ASTM D6960-04, 2004, Standard Table of Body Measurements Relating to Women's Plus Size Figure Type, Sizes 14W-32W
  • CS-151-50 - Infants, Babies, Toddlers and Childrens clothing
  • CS-215-58, 1958 - Body measurements for the sizing of Women's patterns and apparel
  • PS 42-70, 1971 - Womens Clothing[1]
  • PS 36-70 - Boys Clothing
  • PS 45-71 - Young Mens clothing
  • PS 54-72 - Girls Clothing

See also[edit]

References[edit]