General chatter - Size Chart from 1983

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12-16-2008, 11:37 AM
So the topic of vanity sizing comes up from time to time. The argument that it's not vanity sizing, but rather matching up the middle of the size range to the average woman, makes some sense to me. But it's interesting to me how much it has changed. I found this size chart in a book about style published in 1983. I know charts vary from designer to designer, but the differences are whopping.

At 197, I was in about a size 18, but my measurement weren't even on the 1983 chart. By extension, I probably would have been a size 24-26.


size bust-waist-hips
6....... 33-----24.5--36
8....... 34-----26----37
10...... 35/36--27.5--38
12...... 36-----29----39
14...... 38-----30.5--40
16...... 40-----32----41
18...... 42-----33.5--42

2008: (Old Navy)

6....... 35----27----37
8....... 36----28----38
10...... 37----29----39
12...... 38.5--31.5--40.5
14...... 40.5--33----42.5
16...... 42----34.5--44.5
18...... 44----36.5--46.5

12-16-2008, 11:45 AM
Gee that's VERY interesting...explains why nothing has ever fit me right...I'm made really strange...38-26-40...try to find something to put on that other than a sack...not easy!!!

Thighs Be Gone
12-16-2008, 11:47 AM
That looks pretty accurate from I remember of sizing in the 80's. I can wear some 6's right now (usually an 8 though) and I can say I NEVER, EVER wore this size in the 80's. I was always an 8 and at a much lower weight than I am now.

Thighs Be Gone
12-16-2008, 11:47 AM
trying it have some smokin' curves!

Shannon in ATL
12-16-2008, 11:58 AM
So, slightly off topic, it is interesting to see the Old Navy chart. I've felt like they run a little small, but maybe not. The chart looks pretty similar to the one I just pulled up from Kohl's...

12-16-2008, 12:03 PM
Yeah, tryingitagain, those are some AWESOME measurements, you curvy lady :D

If the sizing chart is based on the average woman and the average woman is a size 12 these days, I wonder if the average woman was a size 12 back then, as well, but in a different sizing system? (Seeing as how 12 in the 80's was probably more like 8 now? haha)

12-16-2008, 12:41 PM
um this is depressing!

Rock Chalk Chick
12-16-2008, 01:38 PM
Things get even more interesting when you start shopping for vintage clothing. Sizes have risen in the last 20 years (heck, the last 10 years!), but even more so if you compare to 50 years ago. One of the favorite "size acceptance" lines thrown around was that Marilyn Monroe was a "size 12" (or 14). The only problem with that argument is that a size 12 or 14 in the 1950s was NOT a size 12 today!

Here's a clip from a 1942 Spiegel's catalog:

I know it's fuzzy, so here's the translation:
Size 12: 30-24-33
Size 14: 32-26-35
Size16: 34-28-37
Size 18: 36-30-39
Size 20: 38-32-41
Size 22: 40-34-43

Can you imagine being a size 20 with a 32-inch waist??

I've never really worried over the number on the tag, though - I learned to sew as a kid, and I've sewn clothes off and on through my life. If you want to see someone flip, hand them a homemade dress and tell them the size - someone who's a size 6 off the rack will be about a 14 in a pattern!

Here's the current Butterick size chart:
SIZE Bust Waist Hip
6 30 1/2 23 32 1/2
8 31 1/2 24 33 1/2
10 32 1/2 25 34 1/2
12 34 26 1/2 36
14 36 28 38
16 38 30 40
18 40 32 42
20 42 34 44
22 44 37 46
24 46 39 48

Supposedly sewing sizes are closer to what historical sizes were, but even they have shifted in recent years. The numbers here are definitely larger than the 1940s ones.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter, other than it creates screwy numbers when we consider that a size 12 50 years ago is what? A size 2 or 0 now?

12-16-2008, 01:42 PM
When I want to know my "true" size I go to H&M as far as I can tell they don't do vanity sizing like banana, gap, old navy and the others. I find it surprising the difference. What's really stranger is The Limited, I love how they have like four different kind of fits for pants and depending on which my size is different.

12-16-2008, 01:52 PM
Thanks for posting that, Rock Chalk Chick! If Marilyn Monroe was *that* size 12 she was teensy itty bitty.

12-16-2008, 01:59 PM
yeah i wonder how many women actually fit any of those measurements exactly. i sure dont.