Imagine: you’ve got a special occasion coming up and you want to buy a new outfit to look your best. You drive 45 minutes to the new shop that just had its grand opening. Maybe there will be sales?
It’s a long way but it’s all worth it when you walk in and find the perfect fitted and feminine dress. Even better — they have your size!
You buy it, drive home, try it on, and realize it doesn’t fit properly. In a confused and frustrated manor, you double check the label.
“Why doesn’t it fit?”, you think. “It’s my size!”
Disheartened, you think about taking it to a tailor — but do you have the time? Do you have the money? Ultimately, it’s a trip back to the shop to return it.
Fast forward 80 years. New shops but same tiring situation.
The Old and the New.
What is it about women’s sizing that dumbfounds us all? A size 8 in one store can fit totally different in another.
Whether you’ve recently been fed up with your size not fitting properly or you’ve seen the Netflix series “Insatiable”, you understand that the fashion sizing system feels like it wasn’t made for you.
Who invented sizes anyway? It certainly wasn’t a woman.
I’ll tell you who — the U.S. government. Yes, believe it. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, at that. Let me give you some background…
Who Invented Sizing? And why?
About 77 years ago, in 1941, the USDA (in conjunction with the Bureau of Home Economics) wrote a publication called “Women’s Measurements for Garment and Pattern Construction.” The 101-paged document was developed to provide data to the garment and pattern industry so that they could develop a system of sizes that would satisfy consumers. Genius, right?
Up until then, clothing was labeled with sizes without real reason. Sizes varied greatly and most of the clothing needed alterations which costed up to 25% of the original price of the garment — expensive for women of that time. (Some things don’t change).
Because clothing wasn’t fitting, women were returning garments to the shops and the shop owners were losing money. Women living in rural communities, ordering dresses by mail (and the shops they were ordering from) were feeling the most of the frustration. The businesses were having to refund and re-stock the merchandise while the women were frustrated and still in need of clothing.
From July 14, 1939 to June 30, 1940, the two governmental agencies worked with a handful of universities and colleges to weigh and measure 14,698 women, aged 18 to over 80. Seems like a random number, I know.
They were all American citizens, living in the following states: Arkansas, California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
Measurements + Weight = Standard
Fifty-four measurements were taken of each woman. Wow!
It included the typical height, bust, and hip measurements but also expanded to things like the “sitting-spread height”, “ankle height”, and “shoulder slope”. It also included measurements of distances between body parts, like “neck to bust” and “cervicale to waist anterior” — your guess is as good as ours on that one.
When analyzing the data, the government employees sought to make correlations between measurements so they could somehow create a sizing chart; however, they found the opposite. For example, the analysis showed that bust measurements cannot be used to predict heights (go figure!).
They also found that a woman’s height was the most practical measurement of finding her vertical measurement and it aligned with the other smaller vertical measurements. Weight was the best measurement out of all of the girth measurements taken.
From those conclusions, the height-weight combination was deemed the best for classifying a woman’s body type and voilà — that’s how the standard system of clothing sizes was made.
Mercury Clothiers’ New Sizing System
Although the sizing system was revolutionary in its day, women today still have the frustrating problem of clothing not fitting (even when it’s in their usual size).
We, at Mercury Clothiers, would like to introduce you to a new sizing system. Instead of numbers — we use letters. G through M, to be exact. If this seems random that’s the point. Sizes are random.
We believe that you should buy clothes that fit your body. We don’t want women to get hung up on their sizes. It’s easy to fixate on your size number and if you don’t fit into your normal size 8, you think something is wrong with you.
We’re here to tell you that NOTHING is wrong with you. It’s the manufacturing, not you.
Our suits and dresses are not the androgynous, masculine look. They are timeless, structured and elegant. We are women, aren’t we? Let’s start dressing like we are. Our pieces are fitted, feminine, and celebrate the woman’s body in a professional way.
There will be 7 sizes to choose from initially. Each catered to the modern women’s body. We will help you find your correct size that fits and flatters your body, like clothing should do.
We will expand on the sizes to include larger and taller sizes in the future.
Say goodbye to the days of choosing between a small and a medium or an 8 and a 10. Once you find your size with us, you’ll know it forever. (You’ll never want to wear anything else.)
We are devoted to empowering women to wear clothing that makes them feel as strong as they are.
More Self Love
If you’re looking for a fantastic podcast that will change your mindset about your body image,make you laugh and have you nodding your head in agreement, we encourage you to listen to The New Glam Gal (Style & Confidence) by Judith Gaton. Judith has been an amazing mentor to our CEO, Marisa, in learning about the fashion business and talking about sizing.
Particularly listen to Episode 3: How to Love Your Body. It talks about finding the right clothes for your body and believing that clothes give you confidence. This is what we believe at Mercury Clothiers – clothes should and can make you feel like Wonder Woman.