Berlei and history of sizing

Posted by Kathleen Fasanella on Oct 20, 2006 at 4:52 pm / Fit and Sizing / Trackback

Anne posted an interesting comment and I wanted to put it out here before it got lost. In response to the entry History of Women’s Sizing pt.2, Anne writes:

Actually, the first large-scale scientific study of women’s body measurements was done well before the 1940s, in Australia:

“In 1926-27, at his instigation, a vast and systematic anthropometrical survey of women’s measurements was made. This was the first of its kind in the world, and as a result, Berlei Limited were able to make garments on a scientific health basis, and this resulted in the invention of the famous Berlei Figure Type Indicator.”

There’s even a movie about it!

Apparently the study was conducted in the 1920’s. Unfortunately, I can’t find reference to a film but did locate a 315 page (pdf) guide to the Berlei archives courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum Archives.
More on Berlei.

One Response to “Berlei and history of sizing”

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October 22nd, 2006
4:06 PM

I’d forgotten about the Berlei sizing study in the 20s. The sad thing is that Australia didn’t continue in this manner.

The next sizing study in Australia didn’t happen until the 1940s and when it did happen, it was done by a women’s magazine rather than manufacturing or government. They asked readers to send in their measurements. So every measurement was taken differently, with measuring tapes which may or may not have been accurate, with any allowances for vanity individual measurerers may have wanted. Nevertheless the results were used for decades.

Happy to report that Adelaide Uni is undertaking a study with some rigor to improve the situation.

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