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The European Clothing Standard

EN 13402

EN 13402 is a European standard for labeling clothes sizes. It is based on body dimensions, measured in centimetres. It aims to replace many older national dress-size systems, starting in the year 2006.

There are three approaches for size-labeling of clothes:

  • body dimensions: The product label states for which range of body dimensions the product was designed. (Example: bike helmet labeled "head girth: 5660 cm", shoe labeled "foot length: 28 cm")
  • product dimensions: The label states characteristic measures of the product. (Example: jeans labeled with their inner-leg length in centimeters or inches, i.e. not the several centimeters longer inner leg length of the intended wearer)
  • ad-hoc size: The label provides a size number or code with no obvious relationship to any measurement. (Example: Size 12, XL)

Traditionally, clothes have been labeled using many different ad-hoc size systems. This approach has led to a number of problems:

  • Country-specific or even vendor-specific labels create additional costs.
  • Ad-hoc sizes have changed with time, often due to "vanity labeling", an inflation in body dimensions associated with a size, to avoid confronting aging customers with uncomfortable anthropometric truths.
  • Mail-order purchasing requires accurate methods for predicting the best-fitting size.
  • Many garments need to be selected based on two or three body dimensions to fit adequately, and not a single scalar.
  • Scalar ad-hoc sizes based on 1950s anthropometric studies are no longer adequate, as changes in nutrition and life styles have shifted the distribution of body dimensions.

Therefore, the European standards body CEN started in 1996 the process of designing a new modern system of labeling clothes sizes, resulting in the standard EN 13402 "Size designation of clothes".

It is based on

  • body-dimensions
  • the metric system
  • data from new anthropometric studies of the European population performed in the late 1990s
  • similar existing international standards (ISO 3635, etc.)

EN 13402-1: Terms, definitions and body measurement procedure

The first part of the standard defines the list of body dimensions to be used for designating clothes sizes, together with an anatomical explanation and measurement guidelines:

head girth
maximum horizontal girth of the head measured above the ears
neck girth
girth of the neck measured with the tape measure passed 2 cm below the Adam's apple and at the level of the 7th cervical vertebra
chest girth
maximum horizontal girth measured during normal breathing with the subject standing erect and the tape-measure passed over the shoulder blades (scapulae), under the armpits (axillae), and across the chest
bust girth
maximum horizontal girth measured during normal breathing with the subject standing erect and the tape-measure passed horizontally, under the armpits (axillae), and across the bust prominence (preferably measured with moderate tension over a brassiere that shall not deform the breast in an unnatural way and shall not displace its volume)
underbust girth
horizontal girth of the body measured just below the breasts
waist girth
girth of the natural waistline between the top of the hip bones (iliac crests) and the lower ribs, measured with the subject breathing normally and standing erect with the abdomen relaxed
hip girth
horizontal girth measured round the buttocks at the level of maximum circumference
height
vertical distance between the crown of the head and the soles of the feet, measured with the subject standing erect without shoes and with the feet together (for infants not yet able to stand upright: length of the body measured in a straight line from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet)
inside leg length
distance between the crotch and the soles of the feet, measured in a straight vertical line with the subject erect, feet slightly apart, and the weight of the body equally distributed on both legs
arm length
distance, measured using the tape-measure, from the armscye/shoulder line intersection (acromion), over the elbow, to the far end of the prominent wrist bone (ulna), with the subject's right fist clenched and placed on the hip, and with the arm bent at 90
hand girth
maximum girth measured over the knuckles (metacarpals) of the open right hand, fingers together and thumb excluded
foot length
horizontal distance between perpendiculars in contact with the end of the most prominent toe and the most prominent part of the heel, measured with the subject standing barefoot and the weight of the body equally distributed on both feet
EN 13402-1 pictogram example
body mass
measured with a suitable balance in kilograms

These dimensions are meant to be measured preferably without or as few as possible clothes.

All body dimensions are measured in centimeters, except for the body mass.

The standard also defines a pictogram that can be used in language-neutral labels to indicate one or several of the above body dimensions.

EN 13402-2: Primary and secondary dimensions

The second part of the standard defines for each type of garment one "primary dimension". This is the body measure according to which the product must be labelled.

For some types of garment, a single measure may not be sufficient to select the right product. In these cases, one or two "secondary dimensions" can be added to the label.

The following table shows the primary and secondary dimensions listed in the standard. Secondary dimensions are shown in parenthesis.

Garment Men Women Boys Girls
Jackets chest girth
(height, waist girth)
bust girth
(height, hip girth)
height
(chest girth)
height
(bust girth)
Suits chest girth, waist girth
(height, inside leg length)
bust girth
(height, hip girth)
height
(chest girth)
height
(bust girth)
Overcoats chest girth
(height)
bust girth
(height)
height
(chest girth)
height
(bust girth)
Trousers/shorts waist girth
(height, inside leg length)
waist girth
(height, hip girth, inside leg length)
height
(waist girth)
height
(waist girth)
Skirts waist girth
(height, hip girth)
height
(waist girth)
Dresses bust girth
(height, hip girth, waist girth)
height
(bust girth)
Knits: cardigans, sweaters, T-shirts chest girth
(height)
bust girth
(height)
height
(chest girth)
height
(bust girth)
Shirts neck girth
(height, arm length)
height
(neck girth)
Blouses bust girth
(height)
height
(bust girth)
Underpants waist girth
(height)
waist girth
(height, hip girth)
height
(waist girth)
height
(waist girth)
Vest chest girth
(height)
bust girth
(height)
height
(chest girth)
height
(bust girth)
Pyjamas
Ladies' nightdresses
chest girth
(height, waist girth)
bust girth
(height, waist girth, hip girth)
height
(chest girth)
height
(bust girth)
Swim-suits/wear and bodies waist girth
(height, chest girth)
bust girth
(height, hip girth, underbust girth)
height
(chest girth, waist girth)
height
(underbust girth, bust girth)
Bras underbust girth, bust girth
(cup size)
underbust girth, bust girth
(cup size)
Corsetry/upper and full body underbust girth, bust girth
(height, hip girth, waist girth)
Corsetry/lower body waist girth, hip girth
(height)
Pantyhose height
(waist girth, weight)
height height
Stockings foot length
Socks foot length
Gloves hand girth
Head wear head girth

 

EN 13402-3: Measurements and intervals

The third part of the standard defines preferred numbers of primary and secondary body dimensions.

The product should not be labeled with the average body dimension for which the garment was designed (i.e., not "height: 176"). Instead, the label should show the range of body dimensions from half the step size below to half the step size above the design size (e.g., "height: 172-180").

For heights, for example, the standard recommends generally to use the following design dimensions, with a step size of 8 cm:

Height ... 160 168 176 184 192 200 ...
Range ... 156-164 164-172 172-180 180-188 188-196 196-204 ...

For trousers, the recommended step size for height is 4 cm:

Height ... 156 160 164 168 172 176
Range ... 154-158 158-162 162-166 166-170 170-174 174-178
Height 180 184 188 192 196 200 ...
Range 178-182 182-186 186-190 190-194 194-198 198-202 ...

The standard defines similar tables for other dimensions and garments, only some of which are shown here.

Men

The standard sizes and ranges for chest and waist girth are:

Chest girth 84 88 92 96 100 104 108 112
Range 82-86 86-90 90-94 94-98 98-102 102-106 106-110 110-114
Waist girth 72 76 80 84 88 92 96 100
Range 70-74 74-78 78-82 82-86 86-90 90-94 94-98 98-102
Chest girth 116 120 126 132 138 144
Range 114-118 118-123 123-129 129-135 135-141 141-147
Waist girth 104 108 114 120 126 132
Range 102-106 106-111 111-117 117-123 123-129 129-135

The above table is for drop = -12 cm, where

drop = waist girth - chest girth.

Example: While manufacturers will typically design clothes for chest girth = 100 cm such that it fits waist girth = 88 cm, they may also want to combine that chest girth with neighboring waist girth step sizes 84 cm or 92 cm, to cover these drop types (-16 cm and -8 cm) as well.

The standard also suggests that neck girth can be associated with chest girth according to this table:

Neck girth 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44
Range 36.5-37.5 37.5-38.5 38.5-39.5 39.5-40.5 40.5-41.5 41.5-42.5 42.5-43.5 43.5-44.5
Chest girth 88 92 96 100 104 108 112 116
Neck girth 45 46.5 48 49.5 51
Range 44.5-45.8 45.8-47.3 47.3-48.8 48.8-50.3 50.3-51.1
Chest girth 120 126 132 138 144

The standard further suggests that arm length can be associated with height according to this table:

Height 156 160 164 168 172 176 180 184 188 192 196 200
Arm length 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71
Range 59-60 60-61 61-62 62-63 63-64 64-65 65-66 66-67 67-68 68-69 69-70 70-71

Women

Dress sizes

The standard sizes and ranges for bust, waist and hip girth are:

Bust girth 76 80 84 88 92 96 100 104 110
Range 74-78 78-82 82-86 86-90 90-94 94-98 98-102 102-107 107-113
Waist girth 60 64 68 72 76 80 84 88 94
Range 58-62 62-66 66-70 70-74 74-78 78-82 82-86 86-91 91-97
Hip girth 84 88 92 96 100 104 108 112 117
Range 82-86 86-90 90-94 94-98 98-102 102-106 106-110 110-115 115-120
EN 13402-1 pictogram example for dress size 88-72-96
Bust girth 116 122 128 134 140 146 152
Range 113-119 119-125 125-131 131-137 137-143 143-149 149-155
Waist girth 100 106 112 118 124 130 136
Range 97-103 103-109 109-115 115-121 121-127 127-133 133-139
Hip girth 122 127 132 137 142 147 152
Range 120-125 125-130 130-135 135-140 140-145 145-150 150-155

Bra sizes

The standard sizes for brassiere are:

Underbust girth 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95
Range 58-62 63-67 68-72 73-77 78-82 83-88 88-92 93-98
EN 13402-1 pictogram for bra size 70B
Underbust girth 100 105 110 115 120 125
Range 98-102 103-108 108-112 113-118 118-122 123-128

The secondary dimension bust size can be expressed in terms of the difference

cup size = bust girth - underbust girth

and can be labeled compactly using a letter code appended to the underbust girth:

Code AA A B C D E F G
Cup size range 10-12 12-14 14-16 16-18 18-20 20-22 22-24 24-26

Example: Bra size 70B is suitable for women with underbust girth 68-72 cm and bust girth 84-86 cm.

Letter codes

For clothes were a larger step size is sufficient, the standard also defines a letter code. This code represents the bust girth for women and the chest girth for men. The standard does not define such a code for children.

Meaning Code Chest girth (men) Bust girth (women)
extra extra small XXS 70-78 66-74
extra small XS 78-86 74-82
small S 86-94 82-90
medium M 94-102 90-98
large L 102-110 98-106
extra large XL 110-118 107-119
extra extra large XXL 118-129 119-131
extra extra extra large 3XL 129-141 131-143

Each range combines two adjacent size steps. The ranges could be extended below XXS or above 3XL if necessary.

EN 13402-4: Coding system

The fourth part of the standard is still under review and is expected to be published in early 2006. It describes a compact coding system for clothes sizes. It is mostly intended for industry to use in databases and as a part of stock-keeping identifiers and catalogue ordering numbers. Writing out all the centimetre figures of all the primary and secondary measures from EN 13402-2 can in some cases require up to 12 digits. The full list of centimeter figures on the pictogram contains a lot of redundancy and the same information can be squeezed into fewer digits with lookup tables. EN 13402-4 defines several such tables. They list all in-use combinations of EN 13402-3 measures and assign a short 2- or 3-digit code to each.

This article is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. Original article can be found here.


 

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