For my first blog series I’m going to dig into the confusing topic of size charts. I will separate it into several parts to help keep subtopics grouped together. So stay tuned for more!
One of the most frustrating things in the apparel industry, from both the customer and manufacturer perspective, is the Size Chart! We spend more time and money, as a customer, trying on clothes to purchase the right look and fit then returning if it doesn’t meet our expectations. The first step in a successful “fit” is understanding the size chart.
Today, I am going to explain some terminology and make sure we, the customer, understand how the industry is sizing their products and creating the fit in each category.
The term petite creates a vision in our minds of a tiny woman (thin, short, overall tiny). But in reality the following criteria is used to create the specs (specifications for fit of a garment) for a petite size.
Height 5’4 and under (the following pattern changes are made)
-sleeve length is shortened
-waist drop is higher (this is the location of the waist from CB (center back) of the neck)
-pant/skirt length is shortened
-minor adjustments to armhole, neck drop, neck width, pattern placement
As you can see there is nothing on this list about a person’s size or weight, it only deals with height. In my younger days, I was very thin. I can’t tell you how many people told me how petite I was and when I did my college internship for a dress manufacturer, they wanted me to try on the petites. I kept telling them I was not petite, but the misconception was because of my size (weight). I did not fit in the criteria of petite because my height is 5’5 (not much taller, but sleeve length and pant length was definitely too short) but I am also long waisted (opposite of petite) so a petite top was like a crop top on me. Once you learn the criteria on how a garment is spec’d out, you will know better what to purchase.
Size ranges examples for petite are:
- 2P, 4P, 6P, 8P, 10P, 12P, 14P, 16P
-PXS, PS, PM, PL, PXL
-There are also petite sizes in the Plus size range in speciality stores.
-During the spec process, the petite starts with the same specs as the Missy size, but changes are made to the pattern following the above Petite criteria.
This is the category where most women belong. The basic criteria is height of 5’4 to 5’8, then the change is made to Tall. The basic body shape of the Missy is the idea of a woman with some curves and she has grown out of the Junior shape. The original size that is used to begin the pattern grading set is a size 6 or 8, then the other sizes are graded up or down from that starting point. When you measure a size range of Missy14, Missy16, and Missy18 - remember the fit starts from a size 6 or 8. The fit will have a bit of curve to it, but not overly curvy.
Size range examples for Missy are:
-0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18
-XS, S, M, L, XL
Plus and Womens Sizing
This category is for women that are fuller figured, meaning more curvaceous in many areas of the body including bust, arms, mid-section, hips and legs. The patterns are adjusted by rounding out the areas listed above including making the armhole a little deeper and more open. The height does not change for this category, it is still 5’4 to 5’8, just like missy. In some stores they also offer Plus/Women’s sizing in petites, which is usually clearly indicated. As you can see in the size ranges below, XL in Missy is not considered a Plus/Womens size. It does not have the increase in roundness and curves, as the patterns for Plus/Womens.
Size range examples for Plus/Womens are:
-14W, 16W, 18W, 20W, 22W, 24W
-XXL, 1X, 2X, 3X
-14WP, 16WP, 18WP, 20WP, 22WP
This category is for the figures that are relatively straight, not many curves yet. It is mainly geared toward the young, which is why you find most of the styles to be trendy and youthful as that is the target market. However, there are women who have a straight body type that can also fit into and wear junior clothing.
Size range examples for Junior:
-0, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21
-XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Crossover and additional comments for Sizing
-There are a lot of people that fit into a few categories, so there is some crossover. All depends on your shape and the cut of the garment.
-If you are a slim Missy Small, you might be able to fit into a Junior Medium
-If you are a Missy 16, you might be able to fit into a 14W
-If you are a Missy XL, you might be able to fit into a 14W or 16W, depending on the cut of the garment.
Size Charts are challenging but the more you understand how they work, the more successful you will be at buying on the customer side and creating specs on the industry side.
Please come back soon for the second part of this blog over “Understand the numbers in the size chart and why they differ from company to company”.
Until next time keep imagining, learning and creating with us!