The basic principles - sizing - using the blocks
Metric sizing and size charts
Some manufacturers undertake small-scale surveys of body measurements to gain information for their niche market. To obtain reliable measurements, costly surveys in which thousands of subjects are measured have to be carried out. The Ministry of Defence carried out this type of survey for aircrew in 1988. The government and retailers jointly funded the most recent British survey carried out by the Department of Computer Science, at UCL using computer body scanning. Companies that have borne all, or a proportion of the costs, see the information as commercially valuable and may withhold the raw data from public use. Some problems remain, but the scanners can now make reliable recordings of most of the principal body measurements required for clothing. The 3D body images also record the changing shape of the population.
British and European standards
The British Standards Institution has usually been a main guide to sizing, measurements and labelling. Their new Standards are now adopted from CEN, the European Committee for Standardization. Most European countries, including the UK, have signed to adopt the standards, the aim being to provide a coherent method of sizing and labelling. Three standards titled The size designation of clothes have been agreed and these are available from the British Standards Institution.
BS EN 13402-1:2001 Terms, definitions and body measurement procedures
BS EN 13402-2:2002 Primary and secondary dimensions (Used for garment labelling, example shown below)
BS EN 13402-3:2004 Measurements and intervals
|Jackets ||Chest girth ||Height |
| || ||Waist girth |
|Suits ||Chest girth ||Height |
| || ||Inside leg length |
|Overcoats ||Chest girth ||Height |
|Trousers ||Waist girth ||Inside leg length |
|Shirts ||Neck girth ||Height Arm length |
The standard offers body measurement ranges in 4cm(chest 84-120cm) and 6cm (chest 12Q-144cm) intervals for use in size charts. The standard also shows a pictogram of a figure for use on garment labels.
A fourth standard BS EN 13402-4 designed to designate a coding system, was attempted but a draft paper could not be agreed. European coding divisions increase in 4cm and 6cm intervals whilst UK coding is still based on imperial divisions of two inches (5cm approx.).
Two new standards BS EN ISO 7250-1:2010 and BS EN ISO 7250-2:2010 Basic human body measurements for technological design offer measurement positions and international body size charts for ergonomic design. This information could be useful for manufacturers producing specialist workwear.
Comments on size labels (2010)
The use of standards by manufacturers is voluntary and explains the anarchic systems of sizing that are found in high-street fashion. Whilst some fashion outlets for younger men that sell European fashions have changed to metric sizing, most British manufacturers have retained imperial code sizing divisions and are showing approximate metric conversions. The different size intervals in European sized clothing can be confusing for UK customers. It often requires an interpretation from the salesman and this can vary. It is difficult to find any manufacturer using a pictogram to identify body measurement positions. Most of the major retail stores give metric conversions on inside labels, but still base their coding on the garment rails in imperial 2” size increments. This problem has probably been a factor in the growth of clothing marked SMALL, MEDIUM, LARGE and XLARGE.
Although size charts and conversion charts are lacking in the major retail stores, their sales websites appear to offer far more detailed information with body diagrams, size charts, and coding conversions.
Manufacturers determine their size charts with reference to two main factors, the type of garment that they produce and their target market. It is also...