Why do any of us have to be a particular size? The short answer is that we don’t. The longer answer is that there are some real considerations in how sizing is created. Remember, your size isn’t a judgment (being “judgy”). It is about setting parameters, making choices, and being able to categorize things.
As always, I just go to what I know, which is what goes into women’s sizes. I can tell you about children’s sizes, but really it isn’t my area of expertise. Here’s a nice blog on the subject.
There are three main size categories:
Juniors: For a non-mature figure. Hips are slightly narrower and bust less full. Numeric sizes are odd numbers.
Juniors are typically for a younger body and Missy for the rest of us. How your body develops is the key to finding your size. You could be mature and still have a Junior figure. In my case, I was never a Junior. I went from a Girl size to a Missy size–in one year! While my figure was not mature, my back length measurement made a Missy size fit better.
Missy: For a mature figure. Wider hips and fuller bust. Numeric sizes are even numbers.
Missy is where most of us fit after our early 20s. Like me, you might have joined this size range earlier. Within Missy, we now have Missy Contemporary, Missy Better, and Missy Bridge. Manufacturers have attempted to adjust the standard sizing to look like their customers, so there is variation. It is likely the result of target customer. Everyone wants a younger customer. Often this is also related to pricing. Contemporary is less about pricing and more about styling, while Better is directly related to price point (moderate), and Bridge is often a higher price point. We do not currently have a separate size range for older figures, although it seems like there should be.
Plus: For a figure that has extra padding. These are typically Missy sizing, but there is now Juniors Plus sizing too.
Plus is Missy sizing with extra padding. As with any of these sizes, mythical figures are created based on averages, so the measurements may not exactly mimic where your padding is. Look at any of us and you can see that we pad out differently.
We are seeing less and less numeric sizing and more things that are alpha sizing. For our knits this is especially true. Let me just say that there is less refinement in the size whenever there is alpha sizing. There is generally nothing wrong with this, but because of the larger range within each size you might be one size in the body and another in the shoulder area.
Your Personal Size
Unless you are extremely lucky, your personal size is likely to be an adjustment from your alpha or numeric size. It isn’t difficult to make adjustments, but without them your fit may be less than optimal. In our knitting patterns, we rarely do numeric sizing. Sometimes something is done by chest size, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the fit it going to be any better. You need to know the numbers–yours and theirs!
Unless your size changes dramatically, once you figure out your size it is pretty easy to make adjustments to anything you make. It will take a few minutes of figuring, but it generally isn’t difficult.
The first step is to know your numbers, including gauge. Fit is not the place to take shortcuts or to fudge. Variations in gauge can make a huge difference is something having the correct amount of ease–or not. You might want to sign up for my newsletter and get the Getting Good Gauge handout!