Why are Our Clothes Made to Standard Sizes?

Mass Producing Uniforms

During the war, the Northern and Southern armies both needed large quantities of uniforms in a hurry.

The South, without a large industrial base, relied primarily on home manufacture for uniforms, and through the war Southern armies typically suffered from a shortage of clothing.

The North changed garment making history forever.

It quickly became apparent that the Northern armies could not be supplied with uniforms using traditional modes of clothing production.

Fortunately, the North had a well developed textile industry that could meet the challenge.

When the government began to contract with factories for mass produced uniforms, the textile manufacturers quickly realized that they could not make every uniform for a particular soldier.

The only option was to standardize the soldiers’ uniforms.

They sent tailors to the armies, to measure the men, and saw that certain measurements, of arm length, chest size, shoulder width, waist size, and inseam length, would appear together with reliable regularity.

Using this mass of measurement information, they put together the first size charts for men’s clothing.