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Does Size Really Matter? It Sure Does with Vintage Clothing

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Ever wondered why your vintage fashions don’t fit correctly even though they are the right size?

Many of us have heard women say, usually somewhat defensively, “Well, Marilyn Monroe wore a size sixteen!” That statement is especially useful when you’ve gained a few pounds and gone from a size ten to a fourteen. But what many people don’t know is that sizing has changed over the years and understanding the changes is particularly important when buying vintage clothing online.

What was different in earlier decades? And what guidelines can you use to accommodate those differences when buying vintage clothing?

The major thing is that sizes have gotten smaller. In the 40s, for example, the smallest size available was a ten. Smaller and smaller sizes were added (or, at least, the numbers were added) and today we can buy a size 00. The change took place gradually: In the 50s the smallest size was eight, then each decade a lower number was added, size six was the smallest in the 60s, size four was the smallest in the 70s, and so on, until we get to the 2000s where we have 00.

This translates, loosely, to someone who wore a size ten in 1940 wearing a size 00 today. Or someone who wore a size four in the 70s now wears a 00. This also means that someone who buys vintage clothing online might get something far different than they expect.

Additionally, there are no current sizing guidelines (the last official guidelines were issued by the government sixty years ago.) So, anyone can really call anything whatever size they want to, which explains why a size eight dress from one manufacturer fits you perfectly and, for the same dress made by another company, you would need a size twelve.

Some clothing manufacturers have even changed their own sizing standards so their size eight is now size four, just to play to their customers’ vanity and keep them coming back. This is generally a recent practice, however, so it won’t be a problem with vintage clothing.

Using these calculations, if Marilyn Monroe really did wear a size sixteen, she would now wear a size six.

When buying vintage clothing online, use these sizing guidelines to ensure the garment you buy will fit. In fact, getting the actual measurements is even better: a good online vintage fashion store will either have the measurements for each garment displayed on the site, or will be happy to measure it for you if you send them an email prior to buying.

Long and short of it, this does undoubtedly prove one thing. Size does matter.

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