As most women I sometimes feel like I should lose a pound here or there, but not like the majority, sadly, I feel great how I am because I learnt years ago to accept myself and dress in order to enhance the best of myself.
But what I am talking about is that I do not like to be driven crazy and feel mucked with the dress sizes. Does it only happen to me or do you also get mad at times with the sizes?
How is it possible that they have instilled us the ideal of a European size 38 or British 10 when in Sweden it is bigger than in Spain and in Spain bigger than in Italy? Why those differences? It could be said that it is meant to be an adaptation to the different statures; because an Italian is usually smaller than a Swedish woman. But that still does not explain the differences depending on clothing brands.
That aroused my curiosity so I decided to investigate a bit.
Clothes confection goes back to the 12th century. Until the Middle Age each piece of garment was unique. The first step towards a normalisation of sizes were cut patterns used by dressmakers. The industrialisation of clothing manufacture started around 1800 and by the end of the 19th century ready-made clothing had taken over to a great extent from the tailors’ craftsmenship, an evolution which by the way the great designer Balenciaga did not like at all. It was then that the ready-to-wear clothing industry made an appearance, working with cut patterns until today.
Even though, until the 20th century each store had its own system for sizing and companies did not think of the globalisation we live nowadays. This is one of the reasons why a Spanish 38 corresponds to a German 36, an Italian 40 or a British 10. An example of the different systems used in the 19th century is when shopping centres in Berlin, Germany would mark the sizes with coloured stars. “Fräulein Gelbstern”, i.e. Miss Yellow Star (nothing to do with the stars used later on by the Nazis to identify Jews), was the ideal size modelled in front of clients; “Fräulein Blaustern”, Miss Blue Star was the size for young girls and women; “Frau von Weißstern”, Mrs von White Star identified clothes for more mature and full-figured women.
But back to the introduction of the sizing system we know now, isn’t it strange that the scales established in Europe are somewhat similar, as if at some point there was some kind of agreement. Still it is not clear whether the origin was the measurement of the chest in centimetres divided by two or the hip size in inches…
During the mid-20th century, governments started to create statistics by carrying out anthropometric studies to the population in an effort to normalise sizing and adapt the cut patterns to the evolution of the human body due to lifestyle and nutrition. In Spain, the last measurement of this kind was done in 2008 in order to support the European Normalisation Committee’s project to unify clothing sizes once and for all. But it is 2015 and it seems the work group has not advanced a lot in the European Norm EN 13402 trying to satisfy and make justice both to the tall Nordish and the smaller Mediterranean people. The idea seems though to be a label with main measurements such as height, chest and waist measurements in centimetres.
Meanwhile, as designers have no obligation to follow the measurement tables based on anthropometric studies carried out in different countries every now and then, the sizes will continue to vary from brand to brand and some will even keep going to the extreme of tailoring their ideal clientele by inventing for example a size 0 for customers like Victoria Beckham.
So it seems to me that we rather be quite patient awaiting the unified sizing, patient when going shopping carrying the same garment in several sizes to the fitting room and, above all, do not let the size number let us feel too thick, thin, tall or short, because the human body does not have a standard size and beauty shows in varied ways.