The long and the short of it
- Clothing sizes have no internationally accepted standard. (More on this…)
- Size charts make it easier to convert or compare international size systems and provide better orientation. (More on this…)
- Each individual manufacturer tailors and styles differently and caters to and adapts its size charts to the mean average of the population within its own country of origin. If available, a manufacturer will usually link a size chart to the product description. (More on this…)
- Overview size systems
- Trouser sizes
- Size chart men
- Size chart women
- Special sizes (short / long)
- Kids sizes
- Measuring correctly
- The optimal fit
Clothing size, jeans size, American size English size, trouser size, inch size, unisex size – a variety of numbers and letters, all of which end up meaning the same thing: Clothing size. To understand the jumble of information, one must realise that there is no internationally accepted standard for clothes sizes. Each individual manufacturer tailors and styles differently and caters to and adapts its sizes to the mean average of the population within its own country of origin.
Brands base their sizes on their national database. Scandinavian brand sizes usually run towards long and slender, southern European labels tend to have smaller and more delicate fits, whereby North America manufacturers prefer larger and shorter fits. In addition, many manufactures often take into consideration a particular fit for targeted customer groups. This explains why some brands have sleeves that are perhaps longer than others and other brands a regular fitted sleeve.
- Our tip: Individual manufacturer size charts provide the best information about the basic measurements used. At Bergzeit we have them linked to the products (see below).
Clothing sizes: how to take correct measurements
Measuring your clothing size correctly will depend on the following:
- Chest circumference: Under the armpits and across the widest part of the chest. Arms loose at the sides.
- Waist circumference: Measure over the navel, making sure that the tape measure is sitting loosely and not too tight.
- Hip circumference: Across the widest part of the buttocks.
- Arm length: Place one end of the measuring tape at the base of the centre of the back of the neck. Run the measuring tape over your shoulder, and let it hang down to your hand. Measure to the centre of the meaty part of your palm.(Note: Some manufacturers also specify the arm length “from shoulder tip to wrist”.) Most size charts use this method.
- Inseam: Measure along the inside of the leg from crotch to ankle.
- Leg length: Start at your waist and lay the measuring tape along the side of your leg, down your thigh, until the tape ends where you would like your pant leg to end. For a traditional length, measure until near the heel of your foot.
With this information, you’ll find out exactly which size fits you in the size charts.
Understanding size charts and clothing size systems
As a basis for European clothing, the chest size is always taken. In Germany, for example, men’s sizes are halved for the measured size specification and women’s sizes are halved and a further six centimetres deducted. For example, a men’s chest circumference of 96 centimetres gives a size 48 and a women’s size 42. Height design is only taken into account for men. For women, the mean average height of 164-170 cm is assumed for all sizes. Women who fall out of this norm grid will more than likely find something in the long or short size versions.
Standard size specifications – 32 to 54 in women and 40 to 62, for men – applies for Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland.
International unisex and sport sizes
International and especially for sporting apparel, unisex sizes with the designation S for “small” (small), M for “medium” (medium) and L for “large” (large) have been implemented. The additional X describes an “extra” – whether for “extra-large” or especially small (XS). Rule of thumb is generally, a size 48 corresponds to a men’s size M and in turn is a women’s size XL True dimensions however, can turn out extremely variable. For example, an Asian size M is often much smaller than what we would consider an M to be in Europe!
And yet another deviation are the letter coding of the European Standard 13402, a previously non-binding attempt to bring the confusion of European sizes and dimensions together under one common basis: In this instance, men and women in a combined unisex size are almost identical. A women’s chest circumference of 96 centimetres converts to an EN 13402 apparel size M.
American and British sizes
When it comes to sports, the American size specifications are relevant, as they are often found in sporting brands such as Arc’teryx. The standard women’s sizes start at 2 (equivalent to 32) up to a size 16 (corresponding to 46). Not to be confused with British measurements, ranging in women sizes from a Standard 6 (32) to 14 (42).
For men, there is no size disparity between England and the United States.
Just to make the confusion complete: You may find yourself holding a French brand in the hand – say it’s the French brand Millet and it’s a ladies size M. In case you start to wonder about the size 40 shown on the label – France also use, along with Italy and Spain, their own system for showing sizes. To make things easier, we’ve excluded these from the charts, each manufacturer has their own national size charts that you can use as a reference.
Trousers: Different leg lengths for different heights
Pants sizes can often be a particular problem for many customers since the ratio of leg length to hip size does not always fit the standard size. Therefore, some manufacturers offer their pants in various lengths. The most common indication of this is found in jeans. Here the width of the waistband and the inner leg length is usually expressed in inches, one speaks of an inch size. A men’s size 32/34 is a 32-inch waist (~ 81 cm) with a leg length of 34 inches (~ 86 cm). To calculate its inch-size, divide the total centimetre value by 2.54.
Size charts provide an overview
If you stumble onto other measurements, size tables offer solid assistance in converting your own measurements to other size systems.
Please Note: The following charts indicate standard dimensions. Wherever there is a manufacturer chart available, Bergzeit will have it attached to the relevant product.
Size chart men
|European Size||International Size||Size in inch||French Size|
Size chart women
Size charts for shorter and longer sizes
Many manufacturers use the European system of measurements, for shorter and longer sizes, which are already based on the existing clothing size. The existing clothing size is simply halved (to give a short size) or double the size (for longer sizes). An example would be; a standard women’s size 38 is shown as a women’s short size 19, a longer version size 76.
Especially in regard to trousers a short or long leg length also measures as R (regular), S (short) or L (long). At Bergzeit, you will find our assortment of various leg lengths also labelled with “short” or “long”.
|Bergzeit size||Short size
|Bergzeit size||Longer size
|XXS, short||16||22||XXS, long||64|
|XS, short||17||23||XS, long||68|
|S, short||18||24||S, long||72||90|
|M, short||19||25||M, long||76||94|
|L, short||20||26||L, long||80||98|
|XL, short||21||27||XL, long||84||102|
|XXL, short||22||28||XXL, long||88||106|
|3XL, short||23||29||3XL, long||92||110|
|4XL short||24||30||4XL, long||96||114|
|5XL, short||25||31||5XL, long||100||118|
|6XL, short||26||32||6XL, long||104||122|
Size chart children
However, even with children’s clothing, there are different systems that are easier to understand. The sizes 50 to 176 are determined by the height ranging from newborns to teenagers. Alternatively, some manufacturers calculate with ages, for example, “6-9 months” or “ages 3 years & up”. A rule of thumb is to use the actual size along with the approximate age of the child for the basic clothing size. Variations in individual designs of the individual brands, however, are also found in children’s sizes.
|Height in cm||Approximate age||Size|
|up to 50||1 month||50|
|51 – 56||1 – 2 months||56|
|57 – 62||2 – 3 months||62|
|63 – 68||approx. 6 months||68|
|69 – 74||approx. 9 months||74|
|75 – 80||approx. 12 months||80|
|81 – 86||approx. 18 months||86|
|87 – 92||2 Yrs||92|
|93 – 98||3 Yrs||98|
|99 – 104||4 Yrs||104|
|105 – 110||5 Yrs||110|
|111 – 116||6 Yrs||116|
|117 – 122||7 Yrs||122|
|123 – 128||8 Yrs||128|
|129 – 134||9 Yrs||134|
|135 – 140||10 Yrs||140|
|141 – 146||11 Yrs||146|
|147 – 152||12 Yrs||152|
|153 – 158||13 Yrs||158|
|159 – 164||14 Yrs||164|
|165 – 170||15 Yrs||170|
|171 – 176||16 Yrs||176|
When in doubt try it on
As you can see, choosing the right apparel size is a small science in itself. Variations to the basic dimensions are more common than rare, so it’s particularly beneficial when shopping online to look at the manufacturer’s own size tables. A link can usually be found in the description of the product features. Our customer reviews often provide information about the fit and any special features.
- Our tip: Before ordering as an online customer, it’s worthwhile to grab a tape measure and measure your chest, hip, waist circumference and leg length at home. With these measurements, you can orient to the size tables of the manufacturer and their sizing (in doubt, too big, too small) and then add to cart with more ease. To measure correctly, follow the steps in our photo gallery guide.
Clothing sizes: how to take correct measurements
How should functional clothing sit?
Despite the theory: Clothing is meant to be comfortable. In this respect, the classic way of actually trying it on is still the best way to determine the fit. Your own physique and personal preferences – slim fit or baggy – naturally play a large role in the size selection. In general: athletic clothing works best if it’s a contoured fit. Meaning, if you’re between two sizes, the smaller is often the better choice. Special body characteristics such as wider hips or particularly long arms often require a compromise in which one size up usually creates more comfort.