I cant tell you how many times Ive heard it. You know, the “Only skinny girls can wear vintage” comment. As an owner of a vintage boutique, I hear it said in different context every time:
– “People were so much smaller back then.”
– “Women used to STARVE themselves back in the 1950s!”
– “I heard they used to remove ribs.”
And the list goes on…………
Are any of these true? Sure, maybe some of them, in some way – but not entirely. Lets think about it from a logical standpoint, shall we?
PEOPLE, as a whole – were smaller. Why? Well, for one – growth hormones are widely used in the modern world (1930s to present day, although it takes 20-30 years for the effect on people to show in society). Nutrition also plays a big role in size – conditions of poor nutrition are well correlated to smaller stature. Here is a fantastic (and scientific) article explaining why: Scientific American. And lastly, throw in the fact that most people from the 1800s to the 1940s WALKED and didnt have access to cars as we do – they were considered a luxury and the fact that we have so much fast food as well as huge portion sizes – well, there you go.
And, you know that just because a vintage dress says its a size 18, doesnt mean it will fit you if youre a size 18, right? – Well, let me clear up that misconception as well. Vintage sizing is different because several reasons – a lot of it having to do with the fact that people were smaller, and so then so were the sizes. Also, vanity sizing. Now, Im not entirely sold on the whole vanity sizing thing as the reason why vintage IS smaller than modern – but Im sure it is true in some cases, for some designers (even modern!) – here is a great post about Vintage Sizing vs. Modern Sizing
So dont fret – if youre a size 10, 12 or 14, 16, or even an 18! – There are dresses out there for you! Dont believe the HYPE!
Here are some vintage photos and vintage fashion ads that are NOT for skinny girls!