Published May 1962 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
From the Office of UNITED STATES SENATOR ROBERT C. BYRD Room 342, Old Senate Office Building, Washington 25 D. C.
Volume II -- Number 20 5-11-62 BYRD' EYE VIEW
A Public Service Column by
U. S. SENATOR ROBERT C. BYRD
UNCLE SAM IS HELPING TO MAKE THE CLOTHES WE BUY FIT BETTER
A little known Government activity is being highly successful in helping to provide the American people with better fitting ready-made apparel. It is also significantly reducing the number of “returns” to retailers, and saving consumers and retailers costly alterations.
For the past several years, the Commodity Standards Division of the U. S. Department of Commerce has been compiling scientific data on body sizes to assist the apparel industry in formulating reliable size standards. Until fairly recently, many apparel items have been sized by manufacturers on totally unscientific sizing standards. For example, until the Department of Commerce study on boys sizes was published, a size-14 pair of trousers was supposed to fit a l4-year-old boy. This was not always the case, because boys of the same age vary considerably in height and weight.
The Department of Commerce revised sizes for boys take into account height as well as weight. Now, size-14 is supposed to fit all boys five feet-one inch tall. Moreover, the size is supposed to come in four categories: Slim, regular, husky and robust.
Retailers have been plagued by the variance to be found in dresses of the same indicated size shipped to them by different manufacturers. Mail order house shipping women, say, size-12 dresses, may have many of the garments returned by unhappy customers as not being the size ordered.
Now, under the guidance of the Department of Commerce, the old systems of sizing are giving way to new and better systems. Manufacturers are voluntarily providing children, pre-teens, teenagers, and men and women with sizes defined in terms of body measurements height, weight, bust, waist, and hip.
The Commodity Standards Division of the U. S. Department of Commerce is also working to end the vast differences in category sizes. Today, a woman wearing a size-12 dress may have to buy a size-36 sweater, a size-26 skirt, and a size-34 blouse. Under the proposed new sizing system, all of these items of apparel would be sized similarly. Thus, a woman who takes a size-l2 dress would know that all other clothes items for her would also be size 12.
Standardizing sizes would not only simplify both purchases and sales, but would also foster new pattern ideas without restricting style or fit, according to Commerce Department officials. Leading industry proponents of scientific sizing agree. They see new styling possibilities -- the creation of optical illusions in emphasizing or de-emphasizing figure differences which would be found in the new sizes of ready-to wear clothes. --30--