Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Mom's Stuff: Vintage Patterns and Modern Sizes

My mom gave me a few vintage clothing patterns to put in my Etsy Shop.  Not only do I love to see what house wives were sewing for themselves in the past, but I love to read the sizing information on the back of the envelope.  

I have heard many people make the claim that Marilyn Monroe wore a size 18!  Somehow that makes it seem as if the iconic blonde bombshell was a plus-sized gal like the rest of us.  I hate to burst your bubble, but Marilyn Monroe was no "Large Marge".  I hate to admit it, but I have gained a considerable amount of weight since I got married nearly 24 years ago.  Oddly, I wear only 2 sizes bigger than I did in 1987.  Having access to my mother's collection of retro and vintage clothes, I have tried some of them on and see that the dress my mother wore to my wedding in 1987 (which is just a little big on me) is really about 6 sizes bigger than my 1987 wedding dress.  Sadly, gals, the fashion industry is messing with our minds.  

Read the back of this vintage pattern.  It lays out the bust, waist and hip measurements of the sizes the pattern comes in.  This size 18 pattern says you should have a 32 inch waist, a 41 inch hip and a 38 inch bust.  A quick search of what those measurements would be today tells me that is now a size 12.  Yet, in the 1940's, the pattern tells me that a size 12 means you have a 26 1/2 inch waist, a 30 inch bust and a 34 inch hip.  We have given in to vanity sizing in the fashion industry and happily played along with it.  

I have also discovered that the more upscale the store, the smaller the size I wear. Kirstie Alley has been telling everyone that her stint on Dancing With The Stars has knocked her down to a size 6.  Seriously?  If she's a size 6 then Gwyneth Paltrow is into the negative double digits.  Who does she REALLY think believes it and what store is she buying her clothes at?  It's frustrating because women never REALLY know what size they are and sometimes, we give into our own vanity and squeeze ourselves into that wrong size because we REFUSE to budge.  Sizes are not really standardized and the result is a whole lot of confusion.

I have always maintained that women's clothing needs to be sized like men's.  My husband can buy his jeans anywhere because the length and waist measurements can't lie.  The same goes for his neck and arm measurements with dress shirts.  How many of us would want to see our waist size on the jeans though?  But, after spending the better part of last Winter trying to find jeans that fit me, I'd be all for it.  I spent hundreds of hours hunting for jeans that fit.  The fashion industry thinks all plus-sized women are apples with short legs.  I am both plus-sized AND tall - a deadly fashion combo for buying pants that actually get close to the tops of your shoes.  

Please, fashion industry - stop messing with us.  Pretty soon, I'm going to be in to the single digits without dieting.  Not that I would like that, but I know it's just a fantasy.  


Marge, Born Too Late Vintage Patterns said...

The beauty of any pattern is that it can be customized to fit you specifically. So it doesn't matter if you're plus size and tall or a pocket venus like my daughter. :)

westwood said...

I fully agree with this. It is incredibly confusing!

vintagecatwalks said...

The size that women take off the rack certainly is different than that in the pattern books. If one takes a size 6 off the rack it probably will come in as a 12 in the pattern books. Marg: Love your description of the pattern sizing.