Vintage sizes are completely different to modern day sizes. As a general guideline, they are approximately two sizes smaller today. For example, in 1960, a dress size 18 would equate to a modern day size 14.
However, I always recommend going by the actual measurements of the garment, rather than what it says on the label. Even clothing manufacturers today can’t seem to agree on a standard range of sizes, so get yourself a tape measure and write down your measurements. Keep them next to your PC so you can see at a glance whether that gorgeous vintage dress or blouse is going to fit you.
ALL REPUTABLE ONLINE VINTAGE RETAILERS, APPRECIATE THE IMPORTANCE OF MEASUREMENTS AND WILL NOTE THEM ON THE ITEM DESCRIPTION. It therefore makes perfect sense to know yours. When buying online you cannot try on the clothing beforehand, so save yourself a lot of disappointment, frustration and expense, and get your tape measure out.
Please refer to Catwalk Creative Vintage for more information (http://www.
CLOTHING SIZE GUIDE
You can measure over lightweight clothing and follow the guidelines noted in ‘HOW TO SELECT VINTAGE CLOTHING FOR YOUR SIZE’ below.
HOW MY CLOTHING IS MEASURED
Measurements are given in inches and centimetres with the garment laid flat and side seams straight, without stretching.
BUST: Taken from underarm to underarm.
NATURAL WAIST: Taken across the garment at the narrowest part of the waist. If the waist is elasticated I give the measurement of the waist un-stretched and the measurement of the waist fully stretched;
EMPIRE WAIST or HIGH WAIST: Taken across the garment, under the bust;
HIPS: Taken across the garment, 9″ (23cm) below the natural waist;
LENGTH: Depending on the type of garment I will indicate for each item whether this is taken from centre-back, shoulder to hem or waist to hem;
UPPER SLEEVE LENGTH: Taken from the shoulder seam to the end of the cuff (unless otherwise stated).
I also include any other measurements deemed to be appropriate for the garment.
HOW TO SELECT VINTAGE CLOTHING FOR YOUR SIZE
You should always allow for ease of movement. Therefore if you have a 28 inch waist and the garment also has a waist measurement of 28 inches, it will be too tight for you unless the fabric is stretchy. In order to allow for ease of movement, you should add these measurements to your own:
BUST: add 1½” – 2″ (4 – 5cm)
WAIST: add 1″ (2.5 cm)
HIPS: add 2″ – 3″ (5 – 7.5 cm)
UPPER ARM CIRCUMFERENCE: add 1″ (2.5 cm)
Do not add ease of movement measurements to shoulder widths. For stretchy fabrics or knits, the ‘before-stretch’ numbers should be a little less than your actual measurements.
Alternatively, you can assess whether a vintage garment will fit by following these steps:
Step 1 – Take your bust (at the fullest part), waist (at the natural waistline) and hip measurement (fullest part or 9″ below your natural waist) plus any other relevant measurements. For example, if you want to buy a long sleeved garment you will also need to know your arm measurements;
Step 2 – Take corresponding measurements from one of your own garments that fits you very comfortably;
Step 3 – Compare the two sets of measurements and take note of the difference between your measurements and the measurements of your garment. The difference will give you a guide as to how much bigger than you a garment should be to give you a comfortable fit.
Step 4 – Consider the style of the vintage garment that you are interested in, as this will affect your final decision on whether to buy. Remember that body shapes differ from one person to the next, and not everyone has the same proportions. For instance, in the case of an A-line shift dress, it may not matter that the waist and hip measurements are a few inches bigger than your measurements, as long as the bust fits you comfortably. However, in the case of an hour glass shaped garment that fits you at the waist and hips, it will matter if the bust of the garment is too big, unless you are able to adjust the garment, or you are able to get someone else to adjust it for you.
If you have an A-typical body shape, such as a high or low natural waistline, you will need to know measurements from the shoulder or neck to the waist. I recommend that you have all the relevant measurements to hand when making a decision about an item on the website. As mentioned, a well informed choice will avoid disappointment and expense.
And finally, remember that your measurements, just like your weight, can fluctuate, so take your measurements on a regular basis to ensure the best chance of a good fit.
Written by Louise Sleigh of Catwalk Creative Vintage