Saturday, 12 May 2012

Sizing it up vintage style

Without a doubt the hardest thing when choosing any clothes is the size- too big, too small, different shops do different sizes or are designed for a more boyish shape- it is a minefield!  But when it comes to vintage clothes it just gets a whole heap more complicated!!!

I am a fairly consistent UK size 8-10 in modern clothes, but in vintage I can be a 10 to 16 dependent on the era and origin of the clothes I am trying on, I tend to be a larger size in 1950's clothing and the size gets smaller as the era's move forward- until you reach modern clothing sizes.  I find it is most useful to have a list of your most up to date measurements when shopping for vintage as quite often the actual size means nothing- especially when shopping on line.  

Measurements you will most likely need are-

    Bust- measured at the line of the nipple
    Waist- measured at the narrowest point
    Back length- nape of neck to waist
    Hips- measured at the broadest point.
    Crotch depth- waist to bottom when seated
    Arm length- shoulder to wrist, but also measurement from middle of back to shoulder
    Inside leg or in-seam- I have my measurement to my knee and my ankle so I know where any garment would roughly fall on me.

The picture to the left shows a myriad of measurements taken when making a dress from scratch  (found in Vogue's Fabulous Fit- a pattern book available in  our shop) so you can see which areas may be relevant dependent on the garment you are looking at.

These are not all either! If you love hats then head circumference is vital (slightly above your ears is the standard measurement point); gloves is a whole other story as well- remember your dominant hand will be the larger so ensure that is what you measure.  General areas to measure are the fullest part of your hand and length of your middle finger tip to base of your finger and base of your hand.

You can measure yourself but it's much more advisable to get a second pair of hands (and eyes) to help you with this.

Some websites give you a conversion chart which show what your modern clothing size is converted into a vintage size is but this is so dependent on era and manufacturer and country of origin I personally wouldn't suggest you put too much emphasis on it, it does give a starting point to your "vintage size" (what era though) but I have found things that fit me and are way out of the range that these charts would suggest.  So my advice is read the measurements.... or try it on if you are able.  

Don't be discouraged when looking at photos on models on vintage sites online, many shops, like us at Lesley's Girls Vintage, often have just one model at their disposal- so have to pin clothes of all sizes to a smaller model.  Despite me modelling most of the clothes we have sizes from small petite to extra large, and all sizes in between!  One of the draw's of vintage is its uniqueness (it  is unlikely you will turn up to a party wearing the same outfit as another guest) but that uniqueness limits you because it is likely to be in one size and its often luck if it's in your size or not- your other option is to alter it to perfection or even for the more daring  make it, then you get it perfect fit.

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