|1938 Cotrell and Leonard Schiaparelli ad via Albany Group Archive on Flickr.|
I know many of you are veteran online vintage shoppers, and you know how to tell if a garment will fit you (or what questions to ask to find out if it will). But I still get that "Will it fit me?" question often enough that I thought I'd write a little here about sizing and selling clothing online. This isn't meant to be a definitive guide or anything. It's just how I do things for the shop, and what I believe works best. Please chime in with your further tips and comments!
Vintage sizing is different. Vanity sizing means that a size 10 of yesteryear can be more like a size 2 today. There is no set rule for this, as sizing can vary so much from manufacturer to manufacturer, as well. So measurements are very important. Any good vintage seller will provide a wide range of measurements in their item listing--and will be happy to provide additional measurements that you request. The measurements I give are those of the item itself, and I recommend that buyers compare the measurements given to those of a similar style garment to determine fit. Thus, you would take the bust measurements I give of a cotton shirtwaist dress and--ideally--compare them to those of a cotton shirtwaist dress you already own. Comparing them to a sweater dress, or dress made of stretchy material, won't be helpful, as the fit of that type of garment and material will be so different.
I also often get asked things like "I have a 27" waist; will this dress fit me?" Now, if the dress has a 25" waist, I'm going to tell you no. I think you should allow about 2" (maybe a little less, maybe a little more) for ease of movement and so you're not straining against a (possibly) fragile vintage fabric. So if you have a 27" waist, a dress that measures 29" at the waist should be ideal. But if the waist is elastic, or the fabric has some stretch, or you're a whiz at reducing your waist size using foundation garments, this 2" space might not be as necessary.
It is also true that aspects of a garment can be altered to make an almost-fits item fit. I always give the hem measurement for dresses and skirts in my listings in case the buyer would want to let it down for a longer length. I often get questions about inside seam allowances for items, to see if there's some room to let a dress out. I admit to not having much personal experience with this, but there are great seamstresses and tailors out there who can often alter a garment to make it fit.
|1961 Roman's ad via Classic Film on Flickr.|
I do use a size chart to give estimates of current day sizing on my listings, and include it in my listing title. This isn't meant to be the definitive size, but rather a guide to let you know if it might fit you; you still should go by the measurements. But I know how frustrating it is to muddle through hundreds of listings, and having to click each one just to see if it might be your size. The Etsy shop search isn't foolproof, but generally speaking, you can search by size within my shop by typing an "M" or the word "medium" into the "Search in this shop" box at the top of my shop to see all listings that are in that range.
It is true that a lot of (most?) vintage clothing tends to be on the smaller side. However, not all of it is, and I find plenty of vintage that ranges from medium up to XL. We do find vintage in plus sizes, but it tends to sell quickly. Plus size shoppers on Etsy need to have some patience, as I think sellers seem to use that term quite loosely. My shop has a lot of XS in it right now, but it also has a great selection of M-L in it (XL tends to sell quickly, too...when I don't keep it. Which I don't always. Really!).
If you know how to find your size, Etsy can be a great place to shop for vintage. My favorite vintage sellers on Etsy often offer a great range of sizes, and always offer full and detailed descriptions and photos of their items. If you're unsure about fit, ask questions!
Buyers, what do you like to see in listings to help you figure out fit? Sellers, what have I left out?