Several times a week I get emails about Measurements! I think most people don't know their measures and only choose clothes by the tag size. The problem is that every manufacturer uses different measurements for each company to describe each Number on the size tag. And some makers use numbers like 0, 1, 2 ...
Modern clothes makers have charts online...Penneys, Sears, LLBean...so you can check it before you buy.
The most important rule is Know Your Measurements!!!
If you shop for Vintage clothes online you really need to know that! Vintage clothes have tags, but they mean nothing! With vintage clothes, you need to know about measurements, and how different styles were cut in that era.
Generally, the difference between the bust and waist is 8" - 10", and from the waist to the hip, it is more often 10" - 12".
Before the 50s, measurements were closer together because the style was looser. You see alot of 36" - 30" - 40" ratio.
The 50s saw the rise of girdles and corsets under the clothes, so the waist shrunk and clothes got tighter! You see a lot of 36" - 26" - 40" ratio.
This is important stuff to know... ;-)
The 60s emphasized slim hips, especially in Junior sizes! The 70s brought about a more casual fit and attitude...except for those tight high waist jeans!
The 80s....big. mostly big!
So relying on a number size is not gonna work! And....size numbers are completely different from 70 years ago.......to 50 years ago, to 30 years ago......
AND...if that wasn't confusing enough.....misses sizes (made for mature women), and junior sizes (made for teenage girls) are also different!
A misses Small is more like a Junior Medium, because misses sizes have larger busts, larger waist and larger hips as a ratio. Junior sizes have smaller busts, smaller waist, slimmer hips as a ratio.
I describe vintage clothes as a S - M, for instance....and that is why. That, and personal preference.
Now, we don't have Half-sizes like in the 30s - 70s....half-sizes were meant for the "mature" "middle-age" woman who was petite. I think of this old-fashioned size range as "Northern European peasant"...in other words, My People! They were short, about 5'3", and weighed more than the average woman, and had very large breasts.
The shape of the garment is important to consider also. This 70s oversize dress has a very casual fit, and can work for a few sizes depending on how tight or loose you want a dress to look on you.
But .....this strapless dress is fitted......knowing your measurements, and paying attention to the measures of the dress is more important....
The average woman size today is taller and thinner than in years past. Over the centuries, people have become taller because of better nutrition and greater access to education and government public health programs. Changes in societal tastes in women's body shapes is a long long Doctoral Dissertation...that I won't go into right now....but if we look at Fashion...we can see that Boobs...or Butts...or Cleavage...or whatever...comes in to fashion and women diet, women corset up or corset down....
Both of these pictures are from the mid-50s. Boobs, and tiny waists were in vogue! so, corsets and tight long line bras, Merry Widows, and Girdles were worn to create the look.
In modern times, we generally have a more casual attitude about body shapes....but I think what a society wants, and what we really look like are gonna be in conflict.
So, let's measure ourselves. Once you know what you measure, you can choose clothes over the internet. Now I know most BIG ONLINE shops have a very generous return policy...Because they can afford to lose money. If you buy from a tiny shop, an independent person, who has a passion for vintage clothes, returning clothes for no good reason is not fair.
Let's avoid disappointment for everyone and take a few minutes to watch some cute videos and read up on this topic.
I know a lot about this....I've been making my own clothes for decades....I've been sewing for other people for decades....I can draft a pattern for anything.....so I can offer professional advice.
3 Basic Rules.
1. Add about 2" inches to your personal body measurements, then compare to a garment you like.
Think about the style of the garment....is it meant to be loose? or tight? or is it a knit with stretch?
2. If a garment is a bargain, or if it is for a special occasion, you should consider having a tailor make it fit you like a glove! Vintage garments are made of quality materials, (generally) and will last a long time, so they are worth the extra expense, and a vintage garment is a rare thing....You may never see it again!
3. Ask questions if you are unsure. A professional seller will tell you if the garment won't fit you or will not be returnable for fit issues. No professional seller wants to disappoint a customer...we want you to be happy and we want you to come back!
Ease? What is that?
Ease is the extra room added to the body measurement of a human, so when the garment is being worn, you can move your arms, lift your legs, and breathe! then, the style of the dress or blouse, might need more room....pleats, gathers, wide sleeves......
Here is a blouse with a lot of ease...for style. Even though the bust measurement across this blouse is close to 50", it isn't for a 50" Bust! It's made for a bust about 40" and the gathers are for style.
To take the bust measure, put your tape across the chest about 1" down from the sleeve underarm sleeve, if the blouse isn't an oversize 80s style, but a normal blouse/or dress.
Notice I didn't stretch out the gathers to get an accurate bust measurement. This measures 19" at rest, and double that for 38". This blouse will work for a 36" to 42" bust at the most if you like a more snug fit. I can't make that decision for you...that's personal preference. All I can do is give you the facts, and you decide.
When I listed this blouse, here is how I described it--- size S to M -
Bust - 38" - 42"
Waist/Hip - 46" (best up to a 44")
shoulders - 16"
sleeves - 24"
cuffs, when snapped - 9"
length - 28"
The sleeves are measured from the sleeve seam, if it rests at the absolute shoulder (not an oversized, dropped sleeve style like from the 80s) all the way down the center to the end of the cuff. This measure is nearly 24".
Another important measure, especially for a fitted top, is the back shoulder measurement.
This goes across the top of the "angel wing" bones on your back. It is taken from the sleeve seam across the back to the other sleeve seam. This measures 16".
The length is made from the shoulder seam just 2" away from the neckline (generally, depends on the width of the neckline), and it goes to the hem. This blouse measures 28" long.
Since the blouse goes to the hipbones, I took the measure of the hem, at the hips so you will know it will fit there too.
Pants----- oh boy. high rise. low rise. medium rise. Let's stick to a basic pair of pants.
To measure the hips, lay the pants with the legs gently separated. Measure from side seam to side seam at the crotch. This pair is 36" wide, when doubled.
At the waist, when the elastic is relaxed, measures 24", and then you can pull it all the way open and measure. The relaxed elastic measure is very important, and should only be about 1" - 2" smaller than your waist because the pants need to be snug but not tight, so they will stay up!
Here's another How To Measure Video from Sandy Mendoza of Debutante Vintage clothes!