Understanding Clothing Sizing-Alpha vs. Numeric

Image Source:  vecteezy.com

Image Source: vecteezy.com


April 8, 2019


Apparel industry uses two standard sizing methods:

  • Alpha sizing

  • Numeric sizing

The difference between alpha and numeric sizing is the grading. Grading refers to pattern grading, meaning how much the pattern is increased or decreased to accommodate corresponding size.

What Is Alpha Sizing?

  • Alpha sizing is universal lettering size range defined by letters such as XS, S, M, L, XL, etc.

  • For specific target market group (e.g. Petite) alpha sizing is defined as PS, PM, PL or for Plus Sizes 1X, 2X, 3X, etc.

  • Lettering size range is commonly used for knit clothing (e.g. T-shirts, Sweatshirts, Hoodies, Leggings, Active Tank Tops).

  • Alpha sizing covers a wider range of body sizes. Here is the standard equivalent to numeric sizing:

    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 requirements.

What Is 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.

  • Numeric sizing is commonly used for clothing made of woven fabrics.

  • 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).

  • There is a reason why the same type of clothing fits differently from brand to brand. Vanity sizing is everywhere. Know of it!

What to do before settling on sizing method for your clothing product line

  • Research your market and body shapes within that market. It is not an easy task. However, it will help you understand your customer and their needs for clothing sizing and fit.

  • Study your competition and their best-selling clothing styles and sizes.

  • Research and understand the size range and grade rules for specific clothing style.

  • Research the fabrics and their properties. Grading and fabric content is closely related and important, when determining the size range and specific fit.

  • Study your target customer and their likes and dislikes when it comes to clothing fit preferences.

Feel free to comment or share your experiences with sizing!


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