The difference between Alpha and Numeric Sizing for Clothing 

  • Apparel industry commonly uses alpha or numeric sizing for the clothing collection size range. The difference between alpha and numeric sizing is the grading, or grade rule.

  • Grading refers to pattern grading, meaning how much the pattern is increased or decreased to accommodate the corresponding size.

Alpha Sizing

  • Alpha sizing is the size range named by letters such as XS, S, M, L. This lettering is mostly universal.

  • Size range for Petite target market group are marked as PS, PM, PL or for Plus Sizes 1X, 2X, 3X, etc.

  • This type of letter Usually applies for knit clothing (i.e. activewear, knitwear, sportswear).

  • Alpha size range is used for T-shirts, Sweatshirts, Hoodies, Leggings, Active Tank Tops/Sports Bras and similar clothing items and covers a wider range of body sizes. Standard equivalent to numeric sizing is:

    — X-Small-0 to 2

    — Small-4 to 6

    — Medium-8 to 10

    — Large-10 to 12

  • Standard grading rule for Alpha Sizing:

    — XS to L: 2” circumference between sizes (all around)

    — L and above:2 1/2” to 3” circumference between sizes (all around)

  • Actual grade rule will depend on the specific brand’s clothing fit.


Numeric Sizing

  • US women’s wear sizing uses numbers such as 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and so on. European equivalent uses numbers more related to the actual body measurements such as 34, 36, 38, 40, 42 (European Size Chart for Women).

  • Numeric sizing is commonly used for clothing made of woven fabrics in specific fit important styles.

  • Clothing items include dress pants, shirts, structured jackets, fitted dresses, and similar clothing items.

  • Standard grading rule for Numeric Sizing

    — 0 to 10- 1” circumference between sizes (all around)

    — 10 and above- 1 1/2” to 2” circumference between sizes (all around)