Fitting Vintage: A Guide to Knowing "Will it fit?"

Often when shopping for vintage, you run across items listed under their tagged size. If you've never purchased vintage clothing before, you may think you should purchase the tagged size that represents the size you currently wear. This can lead to disappointment, when you receive the item and realize it is a good many sizes too small. So how do you avoid this issue?

You may have noticed, at Nine Brains we don't really focus on the tagged sizes. Instead we choose to use measurements as well as comparisons to modern standard sizes, such as fits like a standard women's size 6. So how does that help you, the buyer? Well, we want you to be 100% satisfied with your new garments, so these measurements can be compared to your body's measurements or the measurements of a well fitting garment in order to assure that they will fit.

If you have never measured your body, this may seem like a daunting task. There are plenty of guides for more detailed measurements, if you wish to take them, but here we will focus on the big three. You will need a well fitted bra (for ladies), any shapewear you plan to wear with the garment, and a soft tape measure. If you plan to use shapewear, put it on before taking measurements. This is often overlooked, but these can change not just the shape of our bodies but the final measurements in terms of good fit in clothing.

  • Bust or Chest measurement - To take this, I suggest wearing your best fitted bra, ideally one you will wear under the garment regularly. wrap the measuring tape around the largest point of your bust. Make sure that the tape is flat, and snug but not tight or compressing tissue. 
  • Waist measurement - This refers to the smallest point around your torso, at the natural waist. Wrap the tape around this point, flat and snug but not tight. 
  • Hip measurement - This measurement should be taken at the widest point of your hips and around the buttocks. You want to be sure you don't miss an inch or two by doing this in front of a mirror or asking for help. This measurement is often MORE important than your waist in terms of vintage clothing. 

Some notes on vintage fit:

Clothing is cut differently depending on the decade. Keep this in mind when shopping for a specific decade, as finding your particular measurements may be harder to find in the 1970s vs the 1950s.

Volup vintage is a search term you can use to find women's plus sized or curvier cut vintage clothing. 

Many pieces are OOAK survivors, but NOT always. It is worth the search if you find something you love at a price or size you do not!

Sweaters are sometimes sized by bust, so if you find a sweater marked 38, this size refers to the bust measurement. 

So there you have it, a five minute guide on fitting yourself for vintage clothing! This is by no means an exhaustive guide, but it will help you learn the basic three measurements that will improve your experience no matter where you shop for vintage! 

<3 Ashley - Curator @ Nine Brains Vintage