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What size should you buy at Vintage Vixen?
Always base your buys on your measurements. Why? It's because sizes in vintage clothing are different than modern sizes. For example, size 10 in a vintage dress might fit a size 0 or 2 today. How does Vintage Vixen handle that? We list the modern size, never the old size even if it's on the label.
A vintage size label in a garment has little relevance today. Because we list the modern size, you may be thinking "Can't I just shop for the size I usually wear?", and technically you could, but we highly recommend knowing your measurements first and using them as a better indicator of fit. Did you know there is no standard for sizing in today's clothing industry either? That's why you may fit a range of sizes in contemporary clothes as well. Designer Michael Kors says "every company cuts differently. Fits can even vary from season to season or style to style. Always buy pieces in the size that works on you, regardless of what it says on the tag." (Glamour, April 2008)
To get a modern size from a vintage garment, we take the actual bust, waist, and hip measurements of each garment, and then translate that to a handy size equivalent based on the actual inches. Inches are standard, even if sizes between different companies and eras aren't. Occasionally we may omit a measurement for the bust, waist or hip, only because it's very full or unfitted, and fits any size.
You might wonder why we take the time to assign sizes based on measurements, since inches are the only true comparison. Sizes are handy because they are approximately equivalent to a certain set of measurements, so they definitely give you a quicker idea of fit. But for a better idea of fit, get to know your measurements.
MORE DETAILS ABOUT MEASUREMENTS
When we measure a vintage garment, we use the fullest part of the bustline as the bust measurement. The smallest part of the waistline is the waist measurement (usually at the waist seam), and the length from shoulder/neck to waist pinpoints exactly where this measurement lies (the length of the torso). The hip measurement is always taken 8 inches below the waist measurement.
Note that we list the maximum measurements you can be to fit in the garment. We do not list the actual fabric measurements of the garment. That means if your body's measurements match those listed, it's an ideal fit. You can be an inch smaller at bust, waist or hip and still expect a good fit. Much of fit depends on what you expect - if you want a tightly fitted waist, your waist measurement will need to match the item's measurement precisely. A looser fit can be an inch or more different.
SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT COATS
You'll notice many larger sizes in the coats section, as they often fit over the layering you'll need for cold weather. If you plan to wear bulky layers underneath, it may be necessary to buy the coat a size or two larger than your body measurements. It just depends on how many inches you're adding with the clothing worn between you the coat. The best bet is to wear your winter layers (without a coat), take measurements over the layers, and use those measurements to match up with a coat. We also post "any size" items (like capes) to the best corresponding section for the shoulder-width.
SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT SHOES
We list the marked vintage sizes for shoes, instead of assigning a modern size equivalent. The size marked on a vintage shoe corresponds to roughly the same size of a modern shoe, though vintage shoes are often narrower than contemporary ones. Width of vintage shoes is described by the letter after the shoe size (for example, size 7 B). Letters range from AAAAA to D, and better quality vintage shoes often have two widths for a custom fit - the first width is the toebox (across the "knuckles" of the toe), the second is for the heel. To be certain of fit, measure the inside of a pair of your own shoes across the ball of the foot, and from toe to heel to compare. Make sure the pair you measure has the same heel height as the pair you're shopping for. You should not measure your own feet to compare with the shoes' measurements on the site. Read more shoe-buying tips in our vintage shoes buying guide.
SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT LENGTHS AND OTHER MEASUREMENTS
We list lengths of every garment. We also list sleeve lengths, shoulder widths and other measurements when possible, and we are always available to give you additional measurements by email on request.
All our length measurements are taken along the back of the garment, unless noted otherwise. All measurements from the neck are taken at the center back, beginning at the base of the neck. This is generally where the seam rests that joins the collar to the item. If you feel down your neck vertabrae, this is also where one bone seems to stick out a bit from the rest.
When the neckline is lower than the spot where this big bone is located, we measure from the shoulder instead. Here we measure at the top of the shoulder seam wherever that may rest on the wearer.