“All types of alterations” announced signs on dressmaker shops. Waistbands, hems, moving buttons: we alter standardized, industrially-produced clothing1. Today our experience with fittings reminds us that standard ready-to-wear sizes often don’t correspond with the diversity of human bodies. When altered in- expensively for people with low budgets or more precisely for the “dressed to the nines” high society, today’s ready-to-wear garments, generally offered in five sizes, tend to float, pocket or pleat… We are still expected to have an ideal body that corresponds to industrial standards. Having a garment altered – a seasonal topic when summer approaches – means dealing with standard measurements that affect our body image.
This issue arose with the emergence of industrial manufacturing in the 19th century since manufacturing garments in advance meant defining a standard body with fixed proportions based on a series of sizes. Throughout the century, opinions were divided as to whether to favour the ideal body, a desire for comfort (a new value) and the tradition of custom-made, tailored garments.
Defining a standard body to serve as a reference point for manufacturing encountered both theoretical and practical difficulties. On one hand the standard, noted in the 1835 Le Dictionnaire de l’Academie (the Academy Dictionary) under “normal” was “that which serves as the rule”. But the same dictionary also said the “normal state” is the “state of an organized being or organ that needs no alteration; an ordinary, regular state.” Thus the man who served as a reference for manufacturing, by abstract definition, oscillated between the model man of ideal, artistic proportions and the average man invented by “new sciences” like statistics and anthropometry. But in this latter case, theoretical or technical discussions and industrial practices were intimately linked: patents filed and instruments used during the period showed that tailors and manufacturers grap- pled with this theoretical question. And we can surmise that manufacturing standards – as defined by late 19th century treatises – required that a standard be established that could be shared by both manufacturers and consumers.
The individual acceptance of social standards was also at play in each garment. In other words, the question of sizes and establishing a balance between the body and its garments also revealed a social and cultural history. The late appearance of fixed sizes for men’s manufactured clothing at the dawn of the 20th century – and after World War II for women’s clothing – was due to the resistance of various trades and the many detours standard sizes underwent as they meandered through the clothing landscape.
By the mid-19th century, Western societies seemed to have all the necessary elements for the public to embrace the manufacturing of standardized sizes in place. Thanks to cutting dies, sewing machines, the introduction of department stores and an ever-growing consumer population with a hunger for lower-priced clothing. But resistance was strong.
The first reasons were cultural and physical: dressing, when one had money, meant wearing custom-made clothing that had been tried on in expensive fittings and alterations. A garment made by a tailor or dressmaker began with a patternmaker who took measurements and cut the garment, a pieceworker (for “big pieces” – overcoats, redingotes, frock coats, blaz ers and jackets) or pant-and-waistcoat maker (for “small pieces”) who worked at home, a finisher who sewed in linings and attached buttons and an ironer who pressed everything2.Then apprentice tailors did the final alterations in the shop. Thus the standard for any particular individual was unique, handmade clothing. The 1833 Roret manual (a series of manuals with technical information on various trades published by Nicolas Roret in the first half of the 19th century), after giving information on patternmaking for “individuals of different sizes, but always fairly well-proportioned”, pointed out in the “Exceptions” chapter: “We see that many of these body deformities are variable and common so it is impossible to class them by rules: it is only with habit that they can be appreciated and addressed individually”3. And still be able to propose patterns for a “wide waist”, “hunchback”, “tilt- ed bearing” or even children who “are not a precise reduction […] of adults”. The following year, the tailor Barde noted in his treatise that “the shape of different parts of the body give each individual a specific appearance” and because of this, “the tailor must study his model as an artist studies his subject”4. In reality, this meant taking at least 32 measurements.
“Sway-back”, “hunchback”, “stooped”, “partially stooped” body types …
in F. Ladevèze’s book, Cours de coupe du tailleur de Paris ou L'art d'apprendre à couper et ... les habits d'après le système actuel de mesurage... (A Paris tailor cutting classes or the art of learning to cut garments and … frock coats that used the current system of measurements…), Paris, Musée des tailleurs illustré, 1874.
But the art of tailoring was an art of compromise between a unique and an ideal body. One tailor noted: “A frock coat made according to the rules of the trade in 1828 must expand the chest and shoulders while giving the waist a conical shape”5. Thirty years later Gautier emphasized the paradox: “Antinous would seem ridiculous today […] since heaviness, vulgarity and ugliness can be hidden under an envelope that is neither too wide nor too fitted”6. Clients expected that their tailor shape their body to conform to a collective standard while preserving their individuality, a feat similar to that performed by portrait painters. In 1832 Barde attempted to rationalize this question by patenting an épaulimètre (shoulder measurer) and dossimetre (back measurer) to measure the body plus a series of “model patterns” with which “it becomes possible to cut more than a thousand different garments […] to dress individual, undistorted anatomies of every age and size”7. This dizzying diversity seemed impossible to standardize.
Patent taken out by Charles Chevallier, “Device for measuring a man’s body, known as a neometer”, 1844.
(1BA3707), détail, INPI
Mechanism for precise measurements: Fulerand-Antoine Barde, “Three instruments for taking clothing measurements that the inventor called the triple decimeter, epaulimeter (shoulder meter) and dossimeter (back meter)”, 1832.
This attention to each body’s unique qualities was present in all layers of society. The many patents filed by working-class tailors show this: in 1839 an Acribometre (small size measurer) recorded “the shape of bodies, however imperfect they might be” and in 1864 a conformateur-tailor (tailoring adapter) “gave perfect meas- urements with the differences in each person and their endless variations since patternmaking would not be confusing if all men had regular proportions, but that’s just the way it is”8. Le Cours de coupe du tailleur de Paris (cutting classes for the Paris tailor), used even by working-class tailors, had anatomy boards that explained bad personal habits, various sicknesses and accidents9. Similar attention was paid to these differences in the early days of haute couture: model garments, presented on live models since 1860, were adapted to each client’s body10. The only novelty introduced to avoid that an elegant, often foreign client could avoid fittings, were Stockman’s personalized busts “molded from nature OR molded directly on the body”11.
If having custom-made clothing was normal for both men and women of the bourgeoisie, this was true for the working class as well where homemade clothing remained the standard. Le Manuel des dames (Women’s manual), destined for the petite-bourgeoisie, emphasized this in 1833: at home there was no need to have actual fittings for dresses “it’s good […] to make alterations until one is sure the dress fits perfectly. […] Pay special attention to the underarm cut and bodice or skirt front […] so the dress flatters by following the curve of the hips. […] Waists, especially when fitted, should catch the eye.”12
If sewing machines appeared in every home, either at bourgeois residences where servants sewed for their employers or in working class homes where people sewed for themselves, they were usually bought to make fitted garments or alter already-made ones13. This was true for both visible “outer pieces” that had to be perfect and for women’s undergarments. “Generally custom-made remains the rule for women”, noted the manufacturer Dusautoy in 1867 for a series of pieces that had to be fitted on the body – almost the entire wardrobe except for short capes and shawls14.
French society was as attached to custom-made clothing, associated with “handmade”, as it was mistrustful of machine sewing, reputed to be less sturdy and durable. As late as 1906, Lille law professor and social researcher Aftalion noted that the production of undergarments was rarely industrialized “since women want lingerie pieces that are exclusively hand-sewn. And Parisian department stores systematically refused to sell machine-sewn “linen” items in their lingerie departments.”15
The arrival of more working class or bourgeois department stores barely deviated this practice. Even the most Proletarian of these stores that offered garments in fixed sizes sold more custom-made or semi-custom-made clothing. Until the 1920s, ordering in department stores often meant taking almost 30 measurements at home with the help of a guide-feuillet (measurement guide). These personal measurements – taken by a tailor (on a customer who was still wearing his or her own clothes) until the middle of the 20th century – and the subsequent fittings guaranteed a quality garment.
“Page of measurements to be filled in and sent by the post”, La Belle Jardinière catalogue, 1870s.
In contrast, bad fit was synonymous with poverty or marginality. Before the male blouses that were produced inexpensively, cut was a social marker that contrasted the fitted, elegant garments of the rich and fairly well-off with second-hand clothing – generally in fixed sizes – worn since the turn of the century by most of the population16. Originally found in government services – re-cut military uniforms, garments left in hospitals, … — they familiarized the population with the idea of pre-made, unfitted garments. Even in the 1860s, people still confused new “manufactured garments” with old “used garments”17. At Paris’ Carreau du Temple market and thousands of markets or shops throughout France, clients rummaged around to find the best-fitting garments and tried them on over their clothes. Even when they had been altered at home later, they pocketed, gaped or were tight since they had been distorted by other bodies that had worn them previously18.
Bad fit also indicated a modest – often provincial – origin19. A novelist remembers his embarrassing, mid 19th-century arrival in Paris dressed in a redingote “cut by the family tailor from my grandfather’s overcoat […] that was too short in the waist and too long in the skirt so it swallowed me up”20. “He looked like a worker in his Sunday best”, wrote another author in 1861 about a peasant who arrived in Chalons. “He wore a tall stovepipe hat that was too small, a redingote […] with too-short sleeves and plaid trousers that were also too short”21. Short or hemmed trouser legs or sleeves and droopy or skimpy shoulders were signs of poverty. And many of the poor found clothes in locker rooms or asylums where before uniforms “the sick had to wear badly-cut, badly-fitted garments that offended their dignity and sense of respectability. They often took their clothes from poor people who had died.”22 But even for the petit-bourgeois, skimpy garments became a metaphor for having trouble making ends meet, seen in purchases of second-hand clothes or industrially made and cheap clothing offered in limited sizes.
The uniformity of men’s garments meant that their distinction relied on details of cut. “There was nothing theatrical about it”, wrote Gautier in 1858 about the bourgeois suit. “The fine cloth, perfect cut, finishes and final result on the body gave it distinction. These nuances escaped […] most people, but it would be like asking why all gondolas in Venice are black. But nothing is easier than distinguishing, amidst an apparent uniformity, a nobleman’s gondola from a bourgeois gondola.”23
The development of manufacturing in the 1850s introduced the standardized “sack coat” and saw an “Americanization” that menaced the elegant French suit24. It is important to note that both developing categories: smocks, blouses and overalls (“junk” produced in Northern France) and sack coats (or pea coats) had no real shape. Du Marroussem wrote in 1896 that “English styles” had “disastrous effects. The fashion of wide, unfitted garments seems to have been created to encourage an industry that tends to envelop a few body types calculated in widths to try and capture the infinite diversity of the human body.”25 The bourgeoisie had a condescending view about the clumsy look of manufactured garments. Thus Lacroix wrote in 1878 that “while the number of sizes multiply, each corresponds to a rational average without being absolutely appropriate for every body; but the buyer does save money […] and is instantly served by a garment that suits him ‘well enough’.”26
Even with their stigma, badly-fitted garments could be provocative. Beginning in the 1830s, students and artists intentionally wore too-short or too-long redingotes and trousers, turning up their noses at bourgeois custom-made clothing27. Jules Lecomte thus rallied Hugo “whose trousers were too short and hair was too long”28. If in Sentimental Education, the mediocre bailiff clerks had “redingote sleeves that were too short”, students in the Latin Quarter wore “a redingote whose cuffs were too short” on purpose.
It wasn’t surprising to see early 20th century ruffians wearing too-short trousers and skimpy jackets that rejected both bourgeois and workers’ clothing. This association between badly-fitted garments, poverty and marginality also had a role in slowing down the acceptance of garments in fixed sizes.
If fixed sizes arrived slowly, it was also because more precise, rapid systems for taking measurements were being developed. The tape measure, which used the metric system, first appeared in the early years of the 19th century. Flexible and marked with familiar numbers – one side in new centimeters, the other in inches – it quickly replaced the bands of marked paper used in workshops and homes. It thus became possible to archive and communicate measurements, even through the mail, and the tailor could calculate the relationship of proportions and make patterns that could be reduced or enlarged with the help of “reduction tables”29.
Perfected measuring stick: Mornas, “System for cutting garments using a real person”, 1852.
Measuring sticks, plumb lines and compass: from the tailor Bassie, “Instrument for measuring men’s clothing known as a basiometer”, 1848.
This numeric objectification showed that the art of tailoring was becoming mechanized, not industrialized. As “portrait machines” began to appear – first physionotraces and daguerreotypes, then photographs – tailors dreamed of devices that would prevent them from having to ask a subject to stand in a “tiring pose while being measured” but instead take their measurements in a quick movement and transpose the result into lines30. By contrast with a “tailor’s eye”, mechanical methods seemed infallible and practically instantaneous.31
By adapting measuring rods used by the army, the medical profession and the new science of anthropometry – “the science of human body proportions” according to 1830 dictionaries – many tailors filed patents in the first half of the century for measurement-taking devices. Inspired by precision engineers and surveyors, these systems combined rulers, compasses and plumb lines to measure the three-dimensional body, whether they were “abnormal” ones or those that were more common32. Dozens of patents were filed for instruments that became commonplace in workshops.
Tailors dreamed of a machine that would condense everything to take measurements immediately like Mornas’ “machine-measurement-posture” that could capture the “jut of a hip, the waist, back or even the nape of a neck”. It took measurements “quickly with such precision that any deformity, even invisible to the naked eye, could be reproduced”33. Systems of this type were patented throughout the century: for example Ogliastro patented the “Corporismètre” (body meter) in 1888, an “instrument that captured the exact form of the body, essential for making garments that didn’t need to be altered […] from size 38 to size 64”34. Even in 1900, mechanical devices “to assess people’s variable measurements” were based on sliding, articulated measuring sticks35.
These systems were accompanied by charts. Mornas proposed “a chart of numbers showing the proportional differences attributed to each measurement taken by the machine”. The number became the pivot for tailoring so it was possible to make proportional charts36.
Machines took inspiration from “portrait machines” that, like the physionotype, attempted to record the three-dimensional body instantly. Tailors and dressmakers dreamed of these machines, a cross between mechanics and the fine arts. For example the corsetmaker Fournier proposed the Saumamètre in 1827, a frame with 24 mobile plates that helped obtain “the body’s shape and proportion to make cardboard or plaster models from the measurements taken”37.
Fournier, “Device named a saumameter by the author that was designed to reproduce the body’s shapes and proportions and can be used for men’s and women’s garments…”, 1827.
Many orthopedic companies, drawing inspiration from life molds, offered to mold the body in plaster to make a fitted, comfortable corset38.
To get beyond making uncomfortable molds, enveloping forms were perfected. These systems offered a garment that imitated a real body, either stiff like a measuring stick or more mechanical. In most cases, a set of measured ribbons formed a kind of garment that could be put on “to mathematically capture the body’s shape”39. Many patented systems guaranteed that they could take exact measurements “instantly”40. Another advantage of these systems, unlike measuring sticks or plumb lines that required knowing basic geometry, was that they could be used by unqualified, even illiterate workers41.
Because beyond taking measurements, the idea was to transpose these measurements as precisely and quickly as possible onto the fabric to be cut. While with measuring sticks and calculation charts let tailors trace shapes, the “skin” of these measuring garments could be placed directly on a fabric and traced42. Fontaine’s “rapide-essayeur” (rapid-fitter), patented in 1880, streamlined the expectations for these devices: “we can put the fitter on the client and button the rubber pieces in front so the jacket takes on the body’s form immediately. It can then be traced with chalk […] and the pattern is reproduced, fitted and completely corrected. The operation takes only three minutes”43. At the same time, tailors tried to find machines that could draw cutting lines44. These devices, associated with the efficient sewing machine since the late 1840s45, meant that it was possible to cut and construct a custom-made garment almost immediately. By obtaining quick, precise measurements taken by barely-skilled workers using mechanical devices, tailors sought to apply this industrial method to custom-made clothing.
Dirieckx & Bonnely, “Device used to take measurements and cut garments that the company calls: Precise device for all bodies”, 1840
Julien Blanchetièrre, “Measurement to be used by tailors called a Mesureotype”, 1850.
Page of patents taken out by Maillier, a Bordeaux tailor. Examples of a “corporimetric scale” that helped calculate size proportions. His tables were based on military data and “proportions of the perfect man based on Le Poussin, David and Jean Cousin”. He filed two patents: “an instrument he called the acribometer that mathe- matically measured a man’s body, however imperfect it might be”, 1839 (1BA7451) and “an instrument known as the corporometer-conformator needed for tailoring”, 1849 (1BB7880). He also filed a patent for a “military clothing” version of the latter in 1851.
To all appearances, these “size-takers” could not just be made in paper46. In the 1850s, the shirtmaker Claude advertised that he used the “Cutting Patronomètre” so “shirts would neither hike up nor pull”. Many patents in the second half of the century – including three for the Himamometre-Janet that took “the exact shape of a man’s chest” seemed to have been fairly successful. And by 1855, every World’s Fair had an area featuring measurement devices, which showed their importance. Though in 1878 these “still complicated” systems were not yet widely used, the dream of finding a way to mechanize custom-made clothing continued and patents were filed up to the 1930s47. La Belle Jardinière even advertised its “Bodygraph” in the 1960s that photographed the body in “three dimensions”.48
If they couldn’t mechanize measurement-taking, manufacturers relied on alterations. In 1910, “The automatic fitting machine” could “alter skirts, dresses and garments by quickly folding and automatically pinning a hem at an equal distance from the ground”49.
This industrialization of custom-made clothing, in contrast with manufacturing fixed sizes, helped keep custom-made a “must” for a long time. In this way social and cultural standards and professional traditions won out over industrial standards.
At the crossroads between industry and custom-made clothing, large dressmaking companies and department stores developed “semi-manufacturing” or partial manufacturing. The client could order boxes containing pre-cut pieces of fabric, trimmings, a pattern and a colored engraving that showed the final result50. There was a considerable industrial advantage to this practice: the pieces were cut in series based on a few sizes. Approximations did not matter since the alterations were done when the client’s dressmaker or servant sewed the garment.
Department stores adopted this idea for men and women. Clients chose their model in a catalogue or from the store window and ordered it by giving their measurements by mail or in person. This system lasted a long time, particularly at La Belle Jardinière, since garments could be cut in advance in a series. Thanks to the adjustable – but not personalized – dress forms invented in the 1830s to “let clothes be fitted with out the client actually being there”, piecers could alter pieces to a client’s measurements51. The “Squelette” (skeleton) could be adjusted with screws and another dress mannequin with inflatable parts converted measurements into “an exact replica of the person’s body” using metric reference points52. The garment’s construction was thus done mostly for individual users at home. In 1896, Du Marroussem pointed out: “Paris manufacturers noted […] that garments made in advance, in a series, […] often did not correspond to most customers […]. So they got into the habit of giving their clients (shopkeepers) books of samples […] which meant there was a slight price increase for ordinary suits made in a series but they could […] send in a customer’s measurements so he could receive, fairly quickly, a suit cut to his size”.53
De Dunin modular dummy, “Mechanical procedures for taking and conserving measurements for men’s and women’s garments”, 1850.
This system also allowed for the development of international networks: German manufacturers sent “their cloth to England out of which were made trousers, waistcoats and jackets that arrived in France almost finished except for essential parts that were altered to the client’s size […]. A client would go to one of these companies, […] have his measurements taken and a piece nearest to his measurements would be found in the semi-manufactured stock. The garment was then finished in Paris but the manufacturer benefitted from English workmanship at a lower price”54. In the end, the division of work between prefabrication and mechanization – reducing production costs by two-thirds – conquered the custom-made garment market.
The tension between a body’s uniqueness and a quest for standardization continued throughout the century, jeopardizing a practical, theoretical way to imagine the body. Both tailors and artists tried to conserve these ideals when confronted by contradictions between ideal and real bodies. In the Neo-Classical culture, the painter, as a draftsman, needed to envision the geometric order underlying an imperfect body. Artists’ dictionaries advised against using live models and recommended studying plaster molds based on antiquity to learn “the most perfect proportions of the human body” and avoid the “miserable details of nature’s true distortions”55. Thus drawing methods focused on the relationship of stable proportions56. Les proportions du corps humain mesurées sur les plus belles figures de l’Antiquité (Human body proportions based on antiquity’s most beautiful figures), published in the 17th century and re-published – even plagiarized – in the early 19th century, served as a model57. The initial explanation said that by honoring “precise, noble proportions” and not “making crippled or monstrous figures” artists were encouraged to focus on antique figures with “correct proportions”. These ideal systems offered “normal” relationships of proportions, real world “accidents” were left to artists.
But the differences between new practices of anthropometry, medical anatomy and the ideal body influenced theoreticians. In 1829 L’Anatomie des formes extérieures du corps humain, appliquée à la peinture, à la sculpture et à la chirurgie (the Anatomy of human body forms applied to painting, sculpture and surgery) reused measurements from antiquity with a new perspective: “The proportions of an adult man show big differences among individuals but there are limits to these variations in well-proportioned men […]. Thus artists must study the extent of these variations to choose the most beautiful and, at the same time, most general proportions.”58 In other words, “normal” man became the basis for an ideal. This was seen in a treatise by Schadow, a neoclassical sculptor, engraver and son of a tailor who detailed male proportions in all stages of life for Greek statues, the average contemporary man and unique cases – a Lithuanian Jew, a Brandenburg soldier,…59 To the end of the 19th century, treatises tried to define ideals that reconciled the teachings of antiquity, anatomy and anthropometry60.
This practice was found with tailors and artists and became essential for sketching garments. Thus the Journal des tailleurs began a “Normal Proportions” column in 1838 to resolve the paradox between ideal proportions and real bodies: “we take Apollo or Antinous as models […], a thirty- year-old man at the height of his physical facultieswhostands 5 foot, 3 inches tall[…]. Starting at this point, it will be easier for intelligent artists to realize the different sizes they encounter”61. Many patents used ideal measurements from Antiquity or the Renaissance. The tailor Maillier proposed a “Corporimetric Scale […] that gave the proportions of a perfect man according to Poussin, David or Jean Cousin” and illustrated more realistic, bourgeois bodies62.
Mesurements of a sculpture of Antinous. Les proportions du corps humains mesurées sur les plus belles statues de l'Antiquité, vingt-six planches dessinées par De Rinmon, pour l'usage des peintres, sculpteurs et dessinateurs (Human body proportions taken from measurements of the most beautiful antique statues, twenty-six pages drawn by De Rinmon to be used by painters, sculptors and illustrators), Paris, Delarue et Lille, Castiaux, 1810, pl. XIV .
Tailors and ideal, antique bodies: “A new method for taking one’s own measurements and sending them to F. A. Barde”, a tailor on the rue Vivienne in Paris around 1840.
Alongside Fine Art references, numbered proportions, proposed on charts, interested tailors and artists. Tailoring treatises appeared that focused on an abstract, “universal” man since clothing cuts increasingly conformed to geometric figures. An ambiguous treatise by Compaing in 1828 was dedicated to “Using geometry in garment cutting”63. Bodies were reduced to solid, boxy, abstract geometry that could be covered by geometric shapes. If “looks and good taste” are essential, “the principle of geometry, applicable to sculpture and painting, is also an art that interests us”. Even if the author specifies that “the tailor has to deal with many disadvantages […] like distortions or deformities”, he believes it possible to define geometric “principles” and proportions and proposed a series of equations – “upper body thick ness – shoulder width = length of forearm” – or spelled out formulas in a drawing treatise. This vision of a geometric body built on fixed proportions continued throughout the century64. Tailors dreamed of a “golden number that allowed, by taking a single measurement, most often “upper body thickness”, to decipher all other measurements, opening the way for custom manufacturing65.
In the end the Ideal Man, with a physical reality sought by craftsmen, artists or even new machines dedicated to “abnormal bodies”, served as a reference point for both the tailor and the sketcher66. But even if this abstraction of a “platonic body”67 was ineffective, it made acceptable the idea of fixed sizes defined on an abstract, standard body.
M. Compaing, L'art du tailleur, ou Application de la géométrie à la coupe de l'habillement ; ouvrage précédé d'un cours élémentaire de géométrie… (The art of tailoring or how to use geometry to cut garments; book preceded by a basic geometry les- son), Paris, Dondey-Dupré father and son, 1828, page 35.
In the art and clothing worlds, definitions that veered from the normal were in play. In contrast with an idealistic approach where “normal” required a series of numbered rulers to copy reality, a standard of statistical averages was sought among the multitude of information gleaned. At the beginning of the century, Laplace and Gauss defined a “normal law” for statistics – the Gauss curve – that gave the phenomenon a “normal” body proportion and helped spot “irregularities”. Logic was quickly applied to sizes, and massive amounts of data were available thanks to the army that began measuring recruits under the Empire. This question was so important that doctors and statisticians questioned “normal” growth and sought to identify factors that would influence size68. The statistician Quetelet’s essay Sur l’homme et le développement de ses facultés ou Essai de physique sociale (On man and the development of his faculties or an Essay on social physique), published in 1835, that sought reasons for size variations based on climate, diet, work and sexual activity, became a reference69. It tried to categorize national types by size – so an “average” Frenchman, Italian or Englishman served as a reference to observe an entire population. This new abstraction where “all that is fortuitous or individual” was eliminated, became the average where a “social body” replaced an ideal standard.
In the wake of this, men’s sizes – with data that came from the Army – be- came for statisticians, doctors and anthropologists the clue to assessing the effects of living conditions on the population. Conversely, male sizes became for racialists the way to find “people” and “types” like Paul Broca who discovered the “Armorican” or “Breton” who both deviated from an “average man” of 1,649 cm…70
The book that created a considerable stir in public opinion was Quetelet’s Anthropométrie ou Mesure des différentes facultés de l’homme, published thirty years after his first books71. He wrote about the history of average sizes and noted the paradox that “the anthropometry or theory of human proportions belongs to […] both science and art”, quoting Dürer to define the German type, Alberti and da Vinci for the Italian type and Jean Cousin and Poussin for the French type…72 In a comparison between Farnèse’s Hercules and Belgian conscripts, he defined “scientifically” as being compared to the “arbitrariness of artists” and “a fixed human type despite the variety of individuals”73. Thus, a new body-type was drawn that purported to condense the proportions of an average, contemporary man. Quetelet, known for his work in probability, observed the “admirable consistency of size distribution” in the population74. From this point, he thought about body proportions: “Men, seen as individuals, are so different that it seems needless to seek a type or module for normality”. However, “this type existed” if we eliminate “their particularities by comparing the Belgians, French, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans…”75
This thinking extended through all those who worked on body type research. Jacques Bertillon, a statistician for the City of Paris and brother of the inventor of legal anthropometry, condensed the knowledge about sizes in the 1880s, compiling available data about “adults with normal bodies”, like the height of Swedish conscripts, Negroes from Guinea, Iroquois Indians, American soldiers or the Fribourgeois…76 From standards and their deviations, Bertillon created a social theory of sizes by correlating body size with the level of education.
At the end of the century, other data sought besides that of the Army focused on men between 19 and 21 years old. A “series of 5,584 measurements of prisoners in the Police Préfecture of Paris’ jail” or corpses from the École de Médecine (School of Medicine) – except for foreigners or corpses with pathological defects – should help establish the “average French man”77. This survey was one of the rare ones that measured women, the “average man” was usually a male that was socially and politically downtrodden so industrial clothing was mostly for poor men.
This “average man” infiltrated the Fine Arts: in the 1880s, doctors and anthropologists suggested the “ideal, average, European adult man” to artists based on “numbers roughly strung together” by anthropologist Paul Topinard78. Anatomy handbooks recorded the change of paradigms, like Paul Richer’s successful books where he claimed to “combine artistic ideals and precise scientific research”79.
The average man for artists: Dr Paul Richer, Anatomie artistique. Planches / description de formes extérieures du corps humain au repos et dans les principaux mouvements (Artistic anatomy. Pages / description of the exterior shape of the human body at rest or doing key movements), Paris, Plon et Nourrit, 1890.
This “average man” was soon used by tailors and clothing manufacturers. From 1839, the Dictionnaire technologique presented tables entitled “Clothing measurements for a well-proportioned size of a 1.75M man” considered “ordinary”80. Most patents filed by tailors that included tables with proportional scales of the average man confirmed these standards. These patents created the possibility of thinking about a limited number of well-chosen average sizes. In 1864, an anonymous entrepreneur in Paris’ Sentier neighborhood, probably a tailor, published details on the “Ordinary proportions of the human body” classified by sex from birth to adult height according to three types grouped as “slender”, “ordinary” and “stocky”81. “Ordinary” was an average that became the standard. These considerations quickly caught the attention of clothing manufacturers who tried to find a set of sizes with fixed proportions that covered most of the population. Not surprisingly, working class stores that sold industrially-made clothing offered models in 5 sizes or quintiles, a system derived from statistics and probabilities. Alongside artists’ models made from ideal, antique bodies and adjustable tailor's dummies, the dummies were made in five sizes based on “anthropological standards or principles82”.
This definition of the average body thus helped mold body types for the masses. But at the same time the opposite was going on: the standardization of bodies attempted to make ideal bodies coincide with new averages. First, the progress made in treating infant diseases and surgery marked bodies less. Then after the Napoleonic wars, bodies during the century were generally less injured. Finally, the development of orthopedics modeled bodies on clothing and clothing on “well-proportioned bodies”83. Infant corsets became more prevalent, they helped straighten and correct bodies (like making limbs longer with special instruments) during development, the period when body distortions first appeared and could be corrected84. In their handbooks, several tailors spoke about the role of clothing in the body’s formation. Barde wrote in 1834 that, for young people who “have an awkward posture”, “the tailor can pull the cloth tighter in back and ease it on the chest so the person who wore the garment would be aware of his stooped posture and automatically correct it.”85 So orthopedic clothing could correct bodies. Tailors sold clothes that “corrected posture deficiencies and bad habits”86. This orthopedic logic was also used in clothing for daily life: among the bourgeoisie, the top hat, buttercup yellow gloves and patent leather shoes prevented using certain gestures, as did corsets. Outer garments and underwear prevented the bourgeois from stooping or arching their backs. This technique was increased in high society by lessons in carriage – plus dance, gymnastics, etc. – as well as in schools to help create homogeneous, disciplined bodies.
These orthopedics were also aesthetic: from the beginning of the 19th century, several manufacturers of surgical appliances marketed clothes that modeled bodies on ideals. For example Bienaimé sold, a “day corset that holds the body straight” in 1839 along with a “band that, thanks to its soft, graded pressure on the pelvis and hypogastric zone, reshapes the silhouette”87. After the 1850s, corsets for women and stomach belts for men became standard88.
After the 1820s, “natural” paddings, toupées and hairpieces had great success: fake breasts, fake calves, small cushions, shoulder pads and heel pieces all helped redesign bodies89. Housekeeping handbooks recommended, when lacking a bust, that women fashion fake breasts with cotton or whalebone scrapings and bathing suits had to be “discreetly padded to compensate for natural imperfections”90. Unlike 18th century prostheses, these aesthetic prostheses had to appear “natural” in the same way as dentures or wigs.
Medical prostheses became more natural and, since they were made with dyed rubber, were often confused with the body itself. These completed “bodies” had to appear “normal”. Orthopedics was approaching the work of tailoring to bridge the distance between real and ideal bodies. By modeling bodies on medical or aesthetic standards, orthopedics made it possible to imagine a standard body dressed in normal clothes.
Corrective garments. Advertisement for the Châne company that made orthopedics, bandages, bands, stockings for vericose veins, belts & corsets, boulevard Saint-Denis, around 1900.
Advertisement for patented “orthomorph suspenders” sold by Cahun, rue Taitbout, 1907. This type of garment was sold starting in the mid-19th century by companies that sold bandages and undergarments.
If multiple cultural resistances explained the fact that it was difficult to sell fixed sizes, it was also because they were established for “dominated” people who usually were part of administrations: children, prisoners, boarders or soldiers. In England as of the 18th century, outfitters produced a huge number of uni- forms – up to 120,000 pieces a year – for the Army, Royal Navy and sometimes the merchant navy91. At the end of the 18th century in Europe, the Army manufactured fixed sizes on a large scale. Needs were enormous because of regime changes – and uniform changes, particularly in France – plus a large, active military. The Army considered that conscripts’ bodies were malleable and they had nothing to say about their clothing. Moreover, thanks to a height gauge, the Army had data that defined size groups. It was easier since conscripts under 1m55cm were eliminated and the Army accepted “no hunchbacks and men with all their limbs”92. The distribution of men by assignment – the artillery for tall men, etc. – facilitated the definition of averages. Social distinctions remained: clothes for foot soldiers were made in three sizes but they were made-to-measure for officers93.
From the 1820s on, people complained about the Army’s “badly-fitted clothing”94. An 1824 handbook about military administration noted “we must measure each man but […] this is an illusion because of supplies, particularly when a made-to-measure uniform is given to a new person”… and concluded that three sizes were enough95. The logic was similar for all uniform wearers: Paris firemen were dressed in two or three sizes by manufacturers96. They also supplied the national Gendarmes, the Republican Guard and the Municipal Guard…97 Still at mid-century, the issue was not dealt with for troops, the “masses” who couldn’t complain: “ready-made garments are made in three sizes and that is enough; sometimes, the master tailor measures bodies but this is more complicated than useful”98. During the 1860s and faced with the huge demand from army “campaigns” – the Crimean War plus interventions in Italy, Mexico, Cochin China, Algeria99 – three fixed sizes dominated, especially since the Army required manufacturers to have about ten thousand garments in stock100.
Since tailors that worked for the administration couldn’t meet the demand: the Army made deals with civilian workshops. For them, uniforms were specifically made in 3 or 5 sizes. Anthropometry helped both administrations and the industry: thanks to a statistical analysis of measurements, they defined the “average” or “typical” soldier and main groups of sizes and “corpulences” to, according to the War Ministry in 1865, “perfectly dress all men in the Army. […] These types are numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. […] Clothes will be made in appropriate proportions”101. If the administration still recommended dozens of measurements, the practice was simpler: “types” were a combination of height and underarm chest size.
But, their use made the Army aware that badly-fitted clothes and shoes created problems. Thus, administrations kept tailors and shoe-repairers in every military unit to make “alterations and do fittings for sub-officers and men with unusual body types”102. For shoes, doctors noted that over a third of soldiers were unable to fight because of injured feet, the administration extended the size range – Godillot took orders in 24 sizes103.
A survey right after the 1870 conflict shed light on these problems104. In Rennes, an officer reported: “trousers were not wide enough so soldiers couldn’t put them on. […] We were forced to give small and mid-sized men trousers in a larger size and cut them at the bottom”. In the Landes region, “clothes were in small sizes so soldiers were more “rigged out” than dressed, making any movement uncomfortable”. And concerning walking shoes in northern France, “out of a hundred pairs […], over thirty were unusable because of a lack of proper sizes”. Imposing sizes had a physical cost. At the end of the century, the Army extended the “variety of sizes” to 40 sizes just for tunics to “dress a man respectably when he joined the army”105. Outside the three-size system, all clothes had to be “marked with their size number” for the supply office106. The sewing captain specified: “each piece of clothing has two rectangles on the lining that gives the measurements […]: the top rectangle indicates the type” and the bottom the chest size. The system continued throughout the 20th century, a “typomètre [type gauge]” could measure and determine both types. The Army recommended taking 14 measurements: two for fixed sizes, 8 for body type (a synthesis of arm width, waistband, collar size and shoulder breadth – while five letters indicated height from A/48 to E/40. Combining these parameters in 40 or 45 models, the Army could dress the entire troop without making alterations107. But, still in 1900, an observer noted that “people do not pay attention to size and prefer making it longer or shorter with unfortunate results”108. So each soldier applied his own do-it-yourself method to standard sizes.
Measurements of a soldier at the dawn of the 20th century.
Service de l'habillement (masse) : administration et comptabilité intérieures des corps de troupe (Clothing service (mass): administration and accounting information for a troops), Paris, R. Chapelot et Cie, 1907, p. 137.
These huge orders created a new industry by its scale and organization. From the 1820s, manufacturers tried to introduce “a better division of labor in work- shops” and base them on the army’s Bordeaux factory with “three thousand workers where each type of piece was the exclusive domain of a group of workers”109. First attempts to use sewing machines were done in the 1830s to “machine-produce all military trousers”110. From the 1860s, civilian factories that made uniforms changed the industry that had been made up previously of small or home workshops. Since the Army required factories to group production in a single place to prevent theft, enormous factories appeared, especially the Dusautoy and Godillot factories on rue Rochechouart in Paris111. The Crimean War in 1854 showed the need for large factories capable of man- ufacturing quickly, and the campaigns of the Second Empire and colonial wars confirmed this112. Orders were colossal: the Dusautoy factory made 300,000 uniforms in 1859 and Godillot, that had almost the entire market in the 1860s, committed to supplying 300,000 shoes and 400,000 garments to the French army. The army had to dress 350,000 men, meaning 870,000 pieces just for trousers and jackets. And the phenomenon became more pronounced because of the accelerated cycle of replacement – 12 months for long leggings, 6 months for shirts, 4 months for boots113… Some manufacturers exported hundreds of thousands of uniforms each year to “Turkey, Egypt, Italy and many South American republics”114. These factories had a new scale: Godillot asked the army ministry to buy a minimum of 60,000 pieces a year to “keep their 2,000 workers busy”115.
Thanks to the “subdivision of work […] with extreme limits” and steam-pow- ered bandsaws or cutters that cut several pieces at once – 12 in the 1860s, over 200 layers in the 1880s116 – and sewing or finishing machines, mechanization and standardization were going strong117. Doing away with “imperfect” hand-cutting, Godillot advocated “mechanical cutting and sewing” that could be made by “the first worker that comes along”118. Standardization was more advanced because the Army wanted to make “standard exchanges” of clothing pieces for repairs according to a concept established around 1900.
The transition from the Army to the civilian sphere was also concretized: these factories made their equipment and workers profitable by producing uniforms for “post office workers, customs officers, railway workers from var- ious companies, and students”119.
As a place for experimenting with standards, concentrating production and grading sizes for receptive bodies: the Army was the ideal place for using fixed sizes. Besides bringing the industrial model of manufacturing into the civilian world, the Army familiarized masculine society with standardized sizes.
In addition to uniforms, a market expanded from the 17 century onwards for people, like conscripts, for whom adjustments were not as important in the eyes of society. They were dressed by their masters or wore basic professional clothes.
In 1664, Nouveau théâtre du monde indicated sales of “prefabricated shirts” for slaves and the poorest Portuguese in Goa120. A century earlier, Savary des Bruslons reported the trade of “prefabricated shirts” by European travellers in the “French islands of America, Canada, Senegal & coasts of Guinea from the Cape Verde Islands to the Cape of Good Hope”121. In the United States at the end of the 18th century, not surprisingly, standard sizes were set for slaves. The phenomenon was accentuated during the 19th century: tradesmen and travellers sold “ready-made clothes” in trading posts and the colonies. The French maker Lémann noted in 1857: “our ready-made clothes reach regions where many people believe there are cannibals.” And he added: “we are now exporting our French clothes to the entire world, […] all along the West African coast, savages want our clothes and the Régis company of Marseilles exchanges ready-made clothes for natural products”. Being practical, he added: “so our clothes will sell quickly abroad, I requested a survey about the typical dress of people who might buy our clothes and I extended the size range”122. But Western people believed savages didn’t need tailored clothes since decency – or being civilized – was enough.
The budding industry of ready-made clothes in the 1840s grew thanks to exports. The Dictionnaire du commerce in 1859 noted: “in South America taste, elegance of cut, and public opinion, whether it was justified or not, implied that these clothes were the latest fashions from Paris that made them extraordinarily popular. Orders […] expanded a hundred-fold. Manufacturers sent travellers, opened branches, and their business increased considerably”. Figures from Customs confirmed this: in 1859, the top export zones, ahead of Europe, were Algeria, Brazil, the Caribbean Islands, Egypt, Turkey…123 At the same time, the export of second-hand clothes was massive to these zones and also sub-Saharan Africa, a phenomenon intensified by colonization. For European people, the clothes of “indigenous” workers as well as the clothes of the elite who seemed “disguised” as bourgeois, were associated with fixed sizes. In colonized countries, Europeans wore tailored clothes or uniforms.
The phenomenon was the same in France: fixed sizes spread for customers who couldn’t afford made-to-measure, who were obliged to buy professional clothes and who, like conscripts or slaves, had no choice. All department stores with ready-made clothing – La Belle Jardinière, Le Bonhomme Richard… –, had opened “professional clothing” departments by the 1830s. Workers could find blouses in three sizes that were roomy enough to be worn in cold weather over other clothes, and smocks in three sizes with a back belt or elastic so they could be adjusted. If from the 1850s onwards, blouses were on the decline, the specialization and professionalization of clothes increased. In their catalogues, La Belle Jardinière featured bourgeois clothes but most items were work clothes: butcher, typographer or laboratory assistant blouses, cooper and coalmen smocks, wine merchant and carpenter bodices, chimney sweep and tapestry-maker overalls, engineer and pastry chef coats… and all kinds of aprons124. From 1889, the firm distributed a catalogue dedicated to “ready-made and made-to-measure work clothes” because of the opening of several specialized shops in Paris.
Untailored clothes could also be used to hide bodies behind social and professional functions. This was the case of servants: they had to wear uniforms that evoked the livery outfits of the Ancien Régime. La Belle Jardinière, like other department stores, sold frock coats and jackets for livery and grooms, waistcoats for stableboys, valet jackets, white aprons… usually in 5 sizes125. It was the same for public services. Besides the Police, manufacturers dressed “officers of the Post office, Customs and railway employees”, or people who represented institutions: the uniform had to hide each body’s unique qualities. Other bodies that had to disappear were thos of clergymen. The cassock, unfitted by definition, was produced in fixed sizes. While the outfits of the higher clergy were made-to-measure, “ecclesiastical items” for parish priests and altar boys were in fixed sizes and came in three lengths126.
The other bodies that had to endure the wearing of standardized were children, especially boys from 12 to 18. While a unisex dress clothed very young children, miniature versions of adult clothes appeared. These were the only fixed sizes mentioned in tailors’ handbooks, but they specified, as in drawing treatises, that children did not have the same proportions as adults. Children, said one handbook, “had to be dressed with full clothes that correct their body heaviness”127. Society imposed fixed sizes on children easily since these clothes had an orthopedic function. From the 1860s, clothing manufacturers invested in this new market for secondary school and boarding school uniforms128. They used terms from anthropometry that attempted to define growth phases and terms: until age 16, sizes were defined by two-year age brackets – ages 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16129. Children’s bodies, when dressed, had to fit these sizes for dresses, uniforms and, after 1880, miniature suits.
From the 1830s onwards, journalists and tailors condemned the “baggy cardigan” or “bag-with-sleeves” as the products of ready-made clothing manufacturers. But in reality, it may have been the opposite: the new physical culture meant these new confortable clothes were easier to produce in advance. Despite these comments, the untailored reefer coat, unfitted at the waist, caught on throughout society130. For the ever-increasing numbers of employees, jackets — and suits – replaced tailored frock coats. The uniform served as an example to manufacturers: “The reorganization of the Garde Nationale in 1830, wrote Lémann in 1857, meant that patriotic fervor drove people to wear clothes that resembled uniforms […] which helped expand the ready-made clothing industry”131. The Garde nationale uniform – a specialty of La Belle Jardinière – introduced fixed sizes to male civilians. Thus, people were nostalgic in 1867 for the “time of […] the tailored frock coat. The cardigan-sack eliminated it. There were no measurements, only sizes”132. So the clothing landscape changed at that time because of the expanding clothing industry: there were 270 companies that made men’s clothing in Paris and 1,500 in France133. Just for civilian clothing in Paris, there were 190 firms in 1846 and over 420 by 1866134. But untailored clothing dominated in companies that made reefer coats and trousers since the 1830s in a few sizes. They were easy to make because they were roomier and always in the same color135.
Critics confused cut, size and aesthetic. An aristocratic reporter at the 1867 International Exhibition lamented that: “we are not a customer, we are just a ‘number’. Hundreds of factories give us an indifferent, defining uniform”. And he went on: “This clothing industry has atrocious aspects. No measurements. Instead of your foot, there are units, we wear size 9 or 9.5 shoes. The roles are reversed, today flesh has to adapt to leather. […] Machines can be beautiful but cruel. […] The industry needs types, are you a type? The machine has its own taste, you must model yourself on it and the majority reigns”136. The condemnation was the same in 1878: department stores “gather collections of ready-made clothes […] following the average fashion of the day”137. But the same critics defended, condescendingly, the improvements of popular conditions, thanks to standardized clothing. Lémann, who wanted to dress cannibals as well as workers, wrote enthusiastically: “I think the clothing industry moralizes the masses; in the past a worker dressed in coarse linens or mended rags but now he puts on a morning coat to elevate him and oblige him to have more self-respect.”138 Lacroix in 1878 delighted over workers dressed in frock coats, thanks to the clothing industry that “has given self-respect to work- ers dressed in overalls”139. Workers’ social orthopedics could accept unformed clothing once they could wear average fashions after work.
More discreetly, fixed sizes appeared for underwear, especially men’s shirts. The market of “white-collar” employees increased from the 1830s with the multiplication of administrative officers and office workers in the public and private sectors. Bank employees or shop assistants were obliged to look good and usually had to buy their own shirts. While there was a distinction between town and working clothes for the lower middle classes, the white shirt in three or five sizes became the standard140. Elasticized waists and gathers helped adjust them. Household and hygienic handbooks observed this new contact between bodies and fixed sizes. One book denounced, from 1838 onwards, “ready-made shirts” whose “diameter is not wide enough or that have shoulders that are too far forward and which could even cause a stroke”141. But for several doctors, ready-made clothes encouraged improvements in personal hygiene142 and, because of the popularity of caring for collars and cuffs, white shirts became a standard among the bourgeoisie143. All department stores offered ready-made shirts, “undershirts, blouses, bodices, camisoles, underskirts and skirts”144. And when employees took off their camisoles, they put on a nightshirt, a large, chaste sack made in three sizes145.
The military culture impregnated this new clothing culture. Catalogues specified models and prices for an average “girth” of 88 cm at the waist, the same size set by the Army146. But in examining department store catalogues, the logic was not clear. Semi-ready-made clothing dominated the market. Moreover, a new system emerged: clothes were produced in fixed sizes and an army of “alteration experts” could dress people in “five minutes” (it actually took a half-hour)147. These industrial choices were also economic and social: while popular department stores reduced the range of sizes to lower prices, luxury department stores cut costs but offered a large range of sizes. L’Illustration wrote about La Belle Jardinière that for the consumer it “was rare […] that he could not find clothes to fit him”. There was a similar logic for shoe sizes ranging from “tiny baby feet” to “size 47”. The big houses offered models made using combinations. It became normal to give sizes based on the chest measurement, but each size had variations expressed by a system that combined letters and numbers as in the Army. La Belle Jardinière, from 1875, explained that its great success came from “a broader range of graduated sizes”148. By 1900, the department store offered key pieces in 40 sizes. But alterations were still required. We can understand why an observer of the clothing industry wrote that in 1906, the ready-made industry of fixed sizes “dressed about two-thirds of France’s male population”149.
Women still resisted wearing fixed sizes. Their bodies seemed impossible to standardize and no administration had developed a series of measurements that imagined the female body in average sizes. Besides work clothes – overalls, blouses… –, the first clothes made in fixed sizes were clothes that “don’t require exact measurements” like shawls, short capes, long skirts…, prefabricated by almost 2,500 ladies’ “clothing manufacturers” at the beginning of the 20th century150. We can add corsets “made in advance in a small range of sizes”. If they were often badly cut, rubber bands or lacings made them adaptable151. For many working class customers, fixed sizes hugged the body for intimate apparel, while regular clothes were made-to-measure by dressmak- ers or at home. The subcontracting system with home pieceworkers meant, especially in Paris, that made-to-measure dresses could be made in 24 hours or ready-made dresses could be altered in the shop or at home after they were bought158. Paradoxically, it would be a long time before an “average woman” would be analyzed to create an ideal body that could be used as a reference for a small range of fixed sizes.
The history of standard sizes was a long, often difficult, negotiation between manufacturers and actual bodies, sometimes willing, sometimes unruly. Thus, the advent of industrial standards was not dependent on technical progress. To be effective, fixed sizes had to be created from an “average man” and applied to submissive bodies, or at least people in low social positions. This new kind of clothing threatened social hierarchies and the culture of physical standards. The 20th century was marked by the imposition of these standards and their transgressions. While the clothing industry dominated menswear by the 1920s and womenswear from the 1960s, several subcultures and counter-cultures played with untailored clothing to reject clothing standards for social, cultural and industrial reasons. This was the case of the loose clothing worn by the Zoot-suiters: they rejected manual labor and the standard social order. Their baggy pants obliged them to walk slowly and nonchalantly. In contrast, the Teddy Boys, Mods and Punks rejected the system with their tight clothes, especially their “high-riding”, tight-fitting pants. All these groups – and we can add hippies who rejected the white-collar uniform – refuted certain types of professions, the overall social order and the industrial standards of ready-to-wear. They refused fitted clothing and a system that modeled bodies on fixed, industrial sizes. In the few centimeters that might make a garment too short or too long or in its creases and hems, we can discover a complex discussion about fashion, clothing, social standards and ultimately, the body itself.
Alison Matthews David, “Made to measure ? Tailoring and the ‘normal’ body in nineteenth-century France” in Ernst Waltraud (ed.), Histories of the Normal and the Abnormal : Social and Cultural Histories of Norms and Normativity, Oxon & New York, Routledge, 2006.
Daniela Döring, Zeugende Zahlen Mittelmaß und Durchschnittstypen in Proportion, Statistik und Konfektion, Berlin, Kadmos Verlag, 2011.
Winifred Aldrich, “History of sizing systems and ready-to-wear garments” in S. P. Ashdown (ed.), Sizing in clothing : developing effective sizing systems for ready-to-wear clothing, Cambridge, Woodhead Publishing / The Textile Institute, 2007.
Farid Chenoune, Des modes et des hommes : deux siècles d’élégance masculine, Paris, Flammarion, 1993.
Patrick Verley, L’Échelle du Monde. Essai sur l’Industrialisation de l’Occident, Paris, Gallimard, 1997.
Louis Bergeron (dir.), La Révolution des aiguilles, Habiller les Français et les Américains, XIXe-XXe siècles, Paris, EHESS, 1996.