To badly misquote Einstein: women’s sizes are a stubbornly persistent illusion. Size 12, size 18, size 8, even size 0. We’ve all heard them. We all use them in our everyday lives. But what do they actually mean?
The huge disparity in clothing sizes is something bemoaned by women worldwide. But why is there such variation? And what are your options if your body type doesn’t fit the standardised models?
Clothing sizes for women are a relatively new addition to the fashion world, only coming to prevalence in the middle of the last century. Before the modernisation of fashion manufacturing, it was assumed that the ‘woman of the house’ would be an accomplished seamstress, able to make garments for herself and her family.
Then came the advent of ready-made apparel and suddenly there was a need to create a standardised set of sizes for the mass-production of clothing. The problem was that, with such a wide range of body types, that it was difficult to produce narrowly-defined sizing.
Some of the original studies were woefully bad at collecting data. The cross-section of women chosen for these studies was largely unrepresentative of the female populous, leading to results that were completely skewed, which meant massive flaws in the creation of standardised clothing sizes. And these flaws have continued to the present day.
Each clothing manufacturer will have their own target demographic and will often adapt their clothing sizes to fit with their marketing audience. This can take the form of ‘vanity sizing,’ where designers deliberately give more room in each size, to make their customers feel better. But it can go either way, with brands making arbitrary decisions on their own sizing distinctions.
With the problem not looking like it will be solved any time soon, are there any alternatives to the extremely frustrating, and often disheartening, process of clothes shopping?
In a word. Yes.
As you (hopefully) are aware, here at GFW Clothing we have created some really exciting designs and offer an alternative to the usual high street size options. We we set these up as a reaction to the huge disparity in clothing sizes and the highly-gendered world of fashion retail.
We completed a huge amount of research on the differences in shape and now offer shirts in four different body templates.
Our friends at King & Allen have fostered a culture in which the individual needs of our customers come first. We work alongside our female clients to create a suit that frames their silhouette perfectly and shows off their distinctive flair.
The best thing about a bespoke suit is that it will fit your measurements. No need for guesswork. No need for endlessly traipsing round shops. It will just fit. Have a look at some of the suits have have done for women in the past (including Lucy Spraggan's wedding suit). What design would you choose? If you come up with it, they will make it.