Spain: Goodbye stick-figure sizing

A yearlong study by the Health Ministry finds that women need standardized clothing sizes.

Published February 12, 2008 6:30PM (EST)

News flash: After a year of research, Spain's Health Ministry has concluded that clothing designed for towering, stick-thin models doesn't fit most women.

As obvious as that finding may seem, the study's methods were fairly high-tech: Researchers took laser scans of 10,415 women ages 12 to 70. They found that 41 percent of the women struggled to find well-fitting clothing and most had an hourglass, pear or cylinder body type. The Health Ministry has campaigned for standardized clothing sizes since last March, an effort this research is meant to support. Still, it will take an additional year or two before the overhaul is finished. But when the standardization is complete, clothing will have chest, waist and hip measurements, rather than a single size.

This should make for more successful shopping trips, but the Health Ministry is hoping it will also inspire a broader cultural makeover. Already, Madrid has banned models with a low body-mass index from the catwalk (three models were rejected by a major show this week), and several fashion retailers have agreed to use mannequins only in a European size 38 (a size 8 in the States) or larger. In a statement, the ministry said: "The study promotes the image of healthy beauty, adapting catwalk and storefront models to the dimensions of the real population."

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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