The Sizing Minefield



Why is it that when you go to buy a skirt, even though they all have the same size label, some skirts are so small they would only fit an 8 year old and others are so big they fall off you as you zip them up? The reason is that every manufacturer has their own size charts.
Each manufacturer has a particular customer in mind when they create the patterns for their clothes and they size them accordingly. So, a manufacturer for tweens and teens will have a narrow, shorter silhouette, whilst those making for more mature ladies are likely to be more generous in their cut. Price also plays a large part. Interestingly enough the cheapest and the expensive designer clothes tend to be smaller than the medium-priced labels. The problem with buying in a shop is that they don't have their size charts displayed and only Haute Couture Designers or Dressmakers that will actually measure you in their work rooms. It's rare to see a sales assistant with a tape measure in her hand these days!
What You Need To Know About Size Charts
Usually a size chart will give body measurements for Chest, Waist, Hips and Length. In the more upmarket or tailored charts they will often give cross back, top hip, lower hip and sleeve length measurements as well. Read any size chart carefully. Some size charts are for the garment itself. Other size charts are for your body measurements but the actual garments will be larger to allow for movement and the fact that waist measurements expand during the day as we eat.
The Fabric Effect
Also remember that the fabric of a garment will affect the measurement. Garments made in knitted fabrics are often smaller in appearance but will stretch to the correct size once on. Garments in woven fabrics, which is much stiffer, can be slightly bigger as the fabric may restrict movement or even tear if it is too tightly fitted.
So How Do You Measure Yourself
All measurements should be taken with a tape measure, the soft kind for dress making not the stiff metal measures for household repairs. When you take your measurements you should not pull it tight so it compresses your body at any point. If it is too loose it will slip down and you will get an inaccurate reading. Always stand up straight and take your measurements wearing fitted clothes or best of all in your underwear. You should ensure that the tape is level around your whole body parallel to the floor. Make sure you have a piece of paper handy to write down your measurements
Chest or bust measurements are taken at the widest part of the chest. You need to loop the tape measure behind your back across your shoulder blades and measure from the front.
Waist measurements are at narrow part of the stomach. Try bending over slightly, where your body creases is what they call the natural waist. Don't cheat, no sucking in your tummy or holding your breath! Remember your waist is smaller in the morning than at night so consider the time of day you take your measurements.
If you see a measurement that says 'Relaxed Waist' that is the garment's resting flat waist measurement. If you see a measurement that says 'Extended Waist' it is referring to how far the waist of the garment will stretch easily, without being overly extended.
Hip measurements are a movable feast. The top hip is about 5 inches down from the waist. The standard hip is about 7 inches; down. Measure down from your waist to the fullest part of your hips, this varies from woman to woman depending on her body shape. Once you know where that point is, using the tape measure wrap it around your hips measuring from the front.
If you are not sure how to take your measurements ask a friend or relative to help you. If you cannot see if the tape is level all the way round then stand in front of a mirror.
There Is No Need for Sizing Depression
Don't be put off by the size on the label when you buy an outfit. Going up a size or two does not mean you have put on weight as it is probably just the cut of the garment. Taking a smaller size does not always mean we have lost weight either..........! A size is merely a measuring aid not a criticism of your shape, so don't get depressed. The important thing is to choose a garment that fits you in all the right places and brings a smile to your face when you wear it.

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