Oh, sizing. The reason shopping (especially online) can be so damn frustrating. There are a lot of misconceptions around sizing so I'm going to debunk those while taking you behind the scenes on how I developed the uniquely inclusive sizing for Impact Fashion.
The number one most important thing to remember about sizing is that it is 100% completely made up. That's right, each brand just makes up what their sizing is going to be. That's why different brands run so differently and you should never ever feel bad about your clothing size.
To develop the sizes for Impact I started with my own measurements as a sort of baseline. I did this because I like to try on the muslins as I work, so it was only natural to be patterning in my size, and more importantly, I've always had a pretty average body type. I happen to make a great fit model so I took advantage.
Then I looked at brands that had a great shape I loved and studied their charts. I don't remember exactly who I looked at but Hobbs London and Carlisle are the two that stick in my brain. I made some adjustments based on that research.
Next I tried the clothes on a lot of people. Pretty much anyone I could get my hands on. At the time Impact Fashion was exclusively in stores (now you can only buy my designs here, on my site) so the clothes themselves were getting quite a bit of traffic. I made further adjustments based on that feedback. One of the changes I remember making was giving a little more room in the bust line. This makes sense because I myself am not that busty.
The other thing to consider with any size chart is the spacing between sizes. Most brands give 1” between sizes, but I found that 1.5” worked better with my designs and also allowed for more people to fit into the clothes in both directions. Remember, I'm a pretty average size so I pattern from the middle. By giving 1.5" between sizes I made sure both that the size 2 was small enough and the size 24 was big enough. By the way, starting from the 18 to 20 switch I give 2” to accommodate that in larger bodies weight tends to get held more extremely.
When I run something in XS-2X I give 3” between sizes so that the range of people the clothes actually fits stays the same. (The Ready Topper and Rose Top are two examples of this.) This is actually one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to sizing. Brands will sometimes use sizes XS-XL but only give 1" between sizes. This is how we end up with XL skirts that barely fit one thigh. Just one of the many ways inexperience, more often than malice, leads to the exclusion of so many in the modest fashion industry.
Perfecting my sizing through that whole process took about a year. It was a long and involved process that I'm quite proud of.
Another frustration is that within brands sometimes we find inconsistencies- wild ones. This is usually due to patterning or manufacturing errors. In essence, it's just poor quality control. I have two main ways that I avoid this:
The first is by using slopers. A sloper is a pattern that you use to make other patterns. I have an entire library of patterns that I've developed for all sorts of different silhouettes, this way I'm always starting with the same blueprint. For example, when I had the idea for The Most Perfect Pleated Skirt I started with my A-line skirt sloper, added some pleats and adjusted from there. The result is that as I'm working I'm always patterning in the same size and all of my pieces run exactly the same.
The second is by using consistent size charts that everyone follows. Similar to how graphic designers will keep a cheat sheet of the colors, fonts and logos they use for a particular client, I have a sizing bible that everyone who works on the patterns follows closely.
One thing I'd like to point out is that there is a difference between personal preference and inconsistent fit. For example, The Hug Dress has a straight skirt on a stretch fabric and it does hug the butt a little bit. I designed it to lay that way. Some people are uncomfortable with that, so they choose to size up. That's for their own personal comfort level, not because it doesn’t fit, see the difference?
That's how I developed my sizing and a peek back from behind the curtain on how sizing gets made in general. By the way, if you’re ever not sure if one of my designs fit then be sure to just ask me, I’m always happy to chat great clothes with great people.
Here's to making an Impact together,