It's no secret that Americans have packed on the pounds over the years--in fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the average American now weighs 15 pounds more than she did 20 years--and that goes for kids and men, too. But as we've gotten heavier, our clothing size has gotten smaller. So what gives there?
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Well, it used to be that there was an official sizing standard that all manufacturers had to adhere to. This was the case in 1958, when the standards were imposed, until 1983. They were based on the bust, waist, and hip sizes of 15,000 women.
By the mid-1980s, though, clothing companies decided to impose their own sizes on women's clothing--and vanity sizing was born. Sizes crept downward and became totally inconsistent from brand to brand. For example, a woman with a 34-inch bust and 25-inch waist was a size 12 in 1958. Now she'd be a size 2 or 4. So you are definitely not the only one taking three different sizes of the same outfit into the dressing room!
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Just for fun, we decided to see what size dress vintage Hollywood stars would fit into today given the measurements they were in their prime celebrity years. (We got their measurements--bust, waist, and hips--from the film fashion blog GlamAmor. Then we compared them to size charts from 1958 and 2011 that we got on Wikipedia. All sizes are approximate, but they are pretty eye-opening!
Measurements: 37, 22.5, 35.5
Clothing size: 14
By today's standards: 2 to 8