Plus size, full-figured, big and tall . . . Despite what the glamour fashion industry may think, the average clothing size in the United States for women is not an 8 but a size 14; and for men, it’s not a 38 but a size 44. Today, designers are taking note and putting their best fashion foot forward in the plus size arena.
In the early 1950’s, the National Bureau of Standards conducted a comprehensive study of men and women's body measurements to develop a sizing standard for ready-to-wear clothing. During this study of sizing, it was determined that a “minus” would be used to represent those who were smaller or shorter than the sizing average, and a “plus” would be used to represent those who were larger or taller than the sizing average.
However, over the years the standard for the average size became outdated with both American men and women becoming heavier. The hourglass figure which influenced early sizing systems for women’s clothing, was now becoming the more realistic pear-shaped, with a thicker waist and fuller hips. At the same time the average man’s body was also changing shape.