Thursday, May 12, 2011

What's in a Size? 1950s Petites and Half Sizes

Sizing standards have changed so much over the years, it's hard to know what size one wears any more.  Add to that the fact that in the 1950s, garment manufacturers made clothes in many more sizes than their counterparts today, and the choices can be dizzying.  This week we're looking at the various size ranges manufactured in the 1950s and what that means for you when you're shopping for a vintage dress.

Petite or Diminutive sizes are made for a woman is 5 feet 5 or under.  This woman will find that a misses size fits at the shoulders, waistline and hips, but is much too long-waisted and long in length.   Petite sizes are even numbers, usually 10 - 18 and will be shorter in overall length and from shoulder to waist (usually 14" - 15").  Here are two examples from 1951.

 This Martha Manning Petites suit of beige sharkskin is sized proportionately for the shorter woman and looks great with the poodle cloth stole.

This woman is in her 40s, but her figure is sleek enough for this dress and jacket set by Hannah Troy in petite sizing.

Half sizes are for women who are high waisted (usually 15" - 16" shoulder to waist) but a bit wider and heavier than the petite woman.  Half sizes run from 10 1/2 to 24 1/2.  Here are two examples from 1951.

For the woman who is a bit heavier and shorter but still trim, this half size suit by Forever Young in rayon ottoman with velvet trim is a wonderful option.

For the fuller but shapely and shorter figure, a half size is the perfect choice.  This black dress by Young Viewpoint has an easy skirt and points at the neckline to give a look of length.