Academic journal article Human Ecology Forum

Designers Size Clothes to Reflect Different Body Proportions

Academic journal article Human Ecology Forum

Designers Size Clothes to Reflect Different Body Proportions

Article excerpt

To help the American apparel industry become more competitive, a Cornell professor is developing a revolutionary sizing system that would more accurately fit the population than the traditional system does.

The new sizing system is organized much like a "3-D crazy quilt" with closely related sizes not necessarily bigger or smaller all over, as in the traditional step-ladder sizing system, but reflecting the differences in body proportions of individuals in a specific population.

"Today's sizes, derived from studies of body types of women in the 1940s, are based on a system of size categories. Within each category, it is assumed that the taller you are, the wider you are," says Susan Ashdown, assistant professor of textiles and apparel. "However, there's an enormous variation in body proportions and little correlation between how wide you are and how tall, short waisted, or long legged, for example, you are."

In addition, current sizing systems do not take into account the differences in body types that have resulted from improved nutrition, modern foundation garments, ethnic diversity, and aging. As a result, today's sizes fail to properly fit many people, she says.

Using modern statistical methods, Ashdown and graduate student Beatrix Paal have developed a statistical model for a sizing system that can be applied to any population and type of garment.

"Rather than use linear correlations of body measurements, we have grouped individuals with closely related measurements into size clusters. This system offers sizes that would fit most of the population," says Paal, who expects to earn a master's degree in textiles and apparel this spring. …

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