Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Campaign for Clearer Clothes Sizing

Today, Retro Chick posted a wonderful entry about the trials and tribulations of shopping and trying to find things that fit. She invited others to share their experiences so that's what this is. (She also shared links to push some legislation about it, but it looked like it was just for Europe.)

So, I'm going to get the hard part out of the way first. Here are my measurements:


I'm a curvy gal, but I'm not fat. I could stand to loose 10 lbs but so can most people. I've come to terms with my body shape a lot over the past couple of years, but that doesn't make it easier to shop.

There have been a lot of growing pains size wise. I finally switched from juniors to womens pants and then gained some weight and had to go up a size. But pants provide a particular difficulty. I have big hips. That's just the way it is. But my waist is so much tinier! Even modern pants that don't actually hit all the way up at my natural waist are never small enough. So either I spend all day fidgeting to keep my panties from showing or I wear a belt that pulls and digs into my stomach when I sit down. In high school, I actually broke through a belt because of the strain from keeping my pants up. It did have cutouts and I wore it every day, but still. (I also wore size 11 pants and a 3 or 5 in dresses back in the day!)

I've been dying to buy some great reproduction pants. But here I also run into problems. For example, at Freedies of Pinewood, I can choose from 32" waist 42" hip or 36" waist 46" hip. At Heyday Vintage, I have the exact same selections, which corresponds to 14 and 18 sizes. They do offer alterations, but I'm not paying over $70 for a pair of pants and then have to pay to have them altered and shipped from the UK. When sewing, my waist and hip measurements are generally at least 4 sizes apart. And I've experienced the same size frustration when looking at reproduction and vintage wiggle dresses. Nothing is curvey enough for me.

Shirts and dresses also provide great frustration. Empire waisted garments-forget about it. Either the waist seam goes across the girls, or I force it under and I show major cleavage. Button up shirts tend to gape or be ridiculously large in the shoulders. Recently, I have discovered that I need a full bust adjustment and I should choose my starting bust size from my high bust measurement of 35". Well, that's just peachy for sewing, but I can't exactly do a FBA to a shirt at the mall.

Recently, I have also embarked on several shopping ventures looking for what is for me (and I suspect many other women) the most dreaded thing to shop for-bras. I did actually get measured correctly this time around, which made finding a regular bra so much easier! I was, of course, wearing the wrong size again. *sigh* But I've also been wanting a strapless bra. I don't wear strapless/spaghetti strap things too often but the occasion does arise when I want to defy gravity. This presents it's own problems. I'm a chesty girl at a DD but my band size is 36. Again, not fat but curvey. I'm just an odd size. I was quite humiliated when the store I was shopping at (Victoria's Secret) didn't carry my size (smallest DD was a 38) and the sales lady suggested I head out to the nearest store for full figured women. Come on people! I'm definitely not plus sized!

Ok, so I went to the mall hoping that a store that carried multiple brands would bring me better luck. Hahaha! Not! Regular lines did not go up to a DD cup. Full figured lines did not run on the same sizing lines as the regular lines. My 36 DD was huge! So, back to trial and error. After 20 minutes of frustrating trying on, a sales person finally appeared, but it was some teenage girl who wasn't helpful at all. I ended up coming home with a 34D from a full figured line. Which is exactly the same size as the old strapless that I had at home. That I popped out of. That I couldn't wear for more than a couple hours because the band was so tight and painful. The old one was from a regular line. Go figure.

My solution: Sew more, shop less. But even then, if it wasn't for multisize patterns I'd be in a world of hurt. So here are the sizes I'd need based on the sizing chart on the back of the pattern: (Bust (Bust with FBA), Waist, Hips)

Simplicity: 18(14), 16, 22
Butterick: 18(14), 16, 22
McCalls: 18(14), 16, ???? (18 listed as largest size at 42")
Colette: 12(4), 10, 16
Sewaholic: 14(8), 10, 14

Eeep! One size vintage patterns are even worse. Usually I'd go for an 18 or 20 (depending on the date of the pattern), which usually fit my bust and waist fairly well. But now this FBA thing has me looking at patterns with tiny waists! And tinier hips! Guess my pattern drafting skills are going to get a jump start. Wearing ease is another issue. I use this method to figure out the size I actually need to cut.

What are your sizing frustrations? How do you deal with them?


  1. It's amazing the variation in women's body sizes. Vintage repro stores are great at offering that 10" difference (most High St shops are only 8 or 9") but for those with an even bigger difference it's a nightmare!

    Bra sizing is a whole other issue as well. Shopping in general is just a pain! I can't sew at all, I keep meaning to learn but never find the time.

    Thanks for your response! I'll add you to the blog!


  2. Old post so I don't know if this is still true, but we have almost the exact same measurements! I'm a touch larger at 40"-32.5"-46", so 14" different between waist and hips. No chance of finding things in shops to fit me properly - I'm hoping to learn to make pants properly so I can churn out my own, but that may be some time off. And yeah, just have to alter the bought patterns to be nearer my size :s