Understanding ladies’ sizes can be difficult, as there is no official U.S. standard for women’s clothing. There was one that was used back in the 1940s into the 1980s, but it has been largely abandoned by designers. Today clothing manufacturers choose to make their own rules when it comes to clothing sizes. This in turn leads to confusion and frustration for women shoppers.
The rule of thumb is to try clothing on and examine yourself in a full length mirror. Try different poses and move around in the garment to see how it hangs. Don’t assume that since you wear a size 12 in this that you will wear a size 12 in that. It does not work like that. Try everything on before buying it!
If you are used to seeing women’s sizes and misses’ sizes at stores and do not know what the difference is, then here is the simplest explanation- the former has more of a bust to it than the latter, but both have similar widths for shoulders. Most mature women probably would find that the women’s size would fit better than the misses’ size. You also might see a size called juniors. Juniors are a size for youth or young women and are, in most cases, synonymous with misses’ sizes. Most of these sizes go up to 16 or 18.
The misses’ size is geared towards slim women who are average in height to tall. Petite sizes are for women who are shorter than average (height is also something that no two designers agree upon!). For example, some manufacturers start their petite clothing lines at 5’3” while others start theirs at 5’4”.
The tall clothing sizes for some designers start at 5’8” while others classify tall as starting at six feet. Tall sizes (as well as petite sizes) are about height and not weight. This is an important distinction to make. Both tall and petite sizes can range from size zero to size twenty.
Plus sizes for ladies refer to sizes that are larger than 18, such as 20, 22 and 24. You may see these sizes written as 1X, 2X, 3X and so on.
It has been estimated that the average woman in the United States is a misses size 16. What this means is not exactly clear because as previously mentioned, there is no standard for clothing sizes that manufacturers must adhere to.