The Clothing Industry Needs an Engineer…

I am perpetually frustrated by my attempts to buy clothing efficiently. The “specification” is poorly designed. The clothing industry badly needs an engineer to overhaul the way clothing is sized, labeled and inventoried. I bought blue jeans recently, and just for grins I tried on a half dozen pair manufactured by two companies.  All were marked the same size, and every pair fit differently. Worse, every pair was cut inaccurately by as much as two inches compared to the label. To an engineer, these circumstances should never arise…

Pants – the key dimensions are diameter and length – conventionally, the waist and inseam. Every pair of jeans I tried on had a different length because a) the front rise and rear rise of each garment was different, and b) the fabric was cut inaccurately. If pants were specified by the outer seam instead of the inner seam, pants from different manufacturers would have been closer to the same length. The inseam really tells one very little about the garment – whoever thought that key measure up was certainly no engineer… If the rear rise was specified, I would know exactly how roomy the pant would be in the seat from any manufacturer. And if I knew the circumference of the bottom of the leg, I would know about the taper of the pant, too.

Key Specification #1 – Waist Circumference
Key Specification #2 – Outer Seam Length
Supplemental Specification #1 – Rear Rise Length
Supplemental Specification #2 – Leg Cuff Circumference

Shirts – the conventional key dimensions are neck circumference and sleeve length from neck to wrist over the shoulder (actually a better start than pants…). Most men find a brand of shirt that fits well, and they “stick to it” because other brands of shirt will fit very differently – just like pants…  If I knew the length of the back of the shirt from the collar to the bottom seam, I would know exactly how likely a shirt from any manufacturer was to “pull out” from my pants, for example. If I knew the shoulder width, I would know better how the shirt would hang; and if I knew the bottom circumference, I would know about the taper of the shirt.

Key Specification #1 – Neck Circumference
Key Specification #2 – Sleeve Length
Supplemental Specification #1 – Back Length
Supplemental Specification #2 – Shoulder Width
Supplemental Specification #3 – Bottom Circumference

Shoes – well, this industry is just as lost as the clothing industry is… Why shoes aren’t specified in inches or centimeters is beyond me. I have huge feet, and there is no store in the area I know of that sells shoes my size. I buy what I know will fit me from… I hope that my two manufacturers stick to their conventions about sizing…

Key Specification #1 – Length
Key Specification #2 – Ball of Foot Width
Supplemental Specification #1 – Heel Width
Supplemental Specification #2 – Arch Height

Sadly, the clothing industry has a flawed basis for specifying garments. So does the shoe industry. It causes me no end of grief. I carry my specifications with me whenever I shop for clothes. Otherwise, shopping for clothes has the same allure for me as throwing darts (I can’t hit the broad side of a barn). With these “best fit specifications” in hand, I can measure anything in seconds and know if I will like the fit without trying the garment on!

Yup – I must be an engineer…

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One Response to “The Clothing Industry Needs an Engineer…”

  1. mikesoper Says:

    AMEN ! My high arch keeps me out of boots altogether. I would so much rather find clothes that fit than clothes in this week’s color.
    Lands End lets me order pants length to the quarter inch, but pajamas are so long it looks like a whole extra bolt of cloth. As a grandfather, it sure would be nice to see some cloth in my granddaughters’ clothes.

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