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13th Aug 2015

PIC: This New Chart Shows You The Seriously Changing Shape Of Women’s Clothing Sizes Since The 1950s

Is this the reason why you can be three different sizes at once?


If you’ve ever noticed you’re a different clothes size depending on what shop you’re in, the chances are you could be experiencing the effects of ‘vanity sizing’.

A new study from The Washington Post has shown that the changing shape of women’s clothes have altered so dramatically, that the numbers on the inside of those labels might actually be completely inaccurate.


Analysing data collected from the American Society of Testing and Materials, the results showed that in 1958 a size 12 woman typically boasted a 34-inch bust and a 25-inch waist, while nowadays a size 12 would fit a woman with a 39-inch bust and a 32 inch waist.

Not sure how that works?

Well thankfully, they drafted up a chart to break down the differences in clothing sizes as the years passed by:

womens clothing chart

Click to enlarge

While it might appear people are bigger today, which is partly true thanks to an increasing affordability of food, the study was also skewed thanks to its measuring flaws.

According to Slate, the 1958 study also documented quite specific women, whose shape may not have reflected the broad range of body shapes at the time:

‘The study accounted only for white women; women of colour who came in were measured, but their measurements were discarded. And since the study offered a small stipend to anyone who volunteered to be measured, there’s a decent chance that the results skewed toward the poor and malnourished. When the NBS re-analysed the data to produce the commercial standard, they distorted results even further by adding the measurements of women who had served in the Army during World War II — likely among the most fit women in the population.’

measuring tape

So what about retailers who decided to reject this new clothes sizing?

According to Cosmopolitan, the fashion industry began ‘vanity sizing’ their garments – where they started labelling their clothes as smaller than they really are so customers feel better about themselves.

Which could explain why, depending on the shop, you may be opting for a skirt from the back of the rail…

Hat tip: Cosmopolitan via The Washington Post