how to create a clothing size chart

How to Create a Clothing Size Chart for your Fashion Brand (with FREE templates)

One of the most common things that customers look for when purchasing garments are size charts. These seemingly simple charts help them pick out the most appropriate size based on their measurements – making things like online shopping a seamless experience.

But the truth is that inside the fashion industry, size charts are not as simple. 

When making and selling clothing, there are several types of size charts involved, each with their own intended use.

In this article, I’ll walk you through how size charts are used in the fashion industry, introduce you to the different types of size charts, and provide you with FREE size chart templates (of all kinds!).

Let’s dive right in!

Why am I qualified to write about this stuff? In my 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, I’ve journeyed from being an in-house designer, starting my own brand (yep!), to growing my freelance career to $100,000+. Now, with all the knowledge I’ve learned along the way, I want to help fashion designers (and PDs, TDs, etc.) like you make it in the industry.

Table Of Contents:

What is a Size Chart in the Fashion Industry?

Size charts are those little grids of numbers and letters that describe the body measurements or garment measurements according to specific size ranges. 

They serve as a reference for customers, designers, and manufacturers – helping them make decisions about garment sizes and ensure consistency and accuracy in the clothing’s fit.

There are different types of size charts in the fashion industry, each specifically made for different intentions.

Let’s talk more about them in the following section.

Types of Size Charts in Fashion

There are three main types of size charts in the fashion industry; the internal or private size chart, external or public size chart, and garment size charts. 

Let me explain each of them in more detail.

1. Internal Size Chart

An internal or private size chart is the size chart used by a fashion brand’s product development team. This is where the technical designers initially base their measurements off of.

It’s important to note that an internal size chart is a record of body measurements and not garment measurements. For example, these are your shoulder, neck, across front, across back, and so on. 

If you’ve done pattern drafting before, you might be familiar with these sets of measurements needed to draft a basic bodice.

Because of how detailed internal size charts are, they can also be used when trying to find suitable fit models for garment sample fitting sessions

2. External Size Chart

Similarly, an external or public size chart is also composed of body measurements. However, the purpose of this size chart is to help your customer understand what size the brand recommends for their body measurements. 

As you don’t want to overwhelm your customers with 20+ points of measures, public size charts only make use of main body measurements that are the most crucial for the specific garment style. 

Most of the time, these are your shoulder, chest, waist, and hip measurements.

external size chart

3. Garment Size Chart

Lastly, a garment-specific size chart is exactly what it sounds like – specific measurements of the clothing items. These could be copied from the garment’s graded specs.

Since these will be provided to the customer, garment size charts also only focus on a couple of important POMs – enough for the customer to understand what size they should buy.

If you’ve ever shopped online before, you’ve probably seen these in each of the garment’s product pages. 

garment size chart

Do I Need to Have All Types of Size Charts for my Fashion Brand?

As each type of size chart serves a different function, it’s useful to have all of them.

Understandably, making all these size charts can take up some time, especially for fashion brands that are smaller, or those who have very quick turnaround times for new products. Knowing which best suits your needs is key to identifying which size chart you should prioritize making.

Firstly, I’d say the internal size chart is definitely a must, as this serves as the brand’s starting point of the development of new garments’ measurement specs. It’s also key to understanding the brand’s “ideal body type.” 

The good news is that internal size charts are (semi) permanent and would only need updating every few years or so if there are changes to the brand’s demographic and design direction.

External size charts can then be easily derived from internal size charts by just taking the key measurements (shoulders, bust, waist, hips) and adding it somewhere on the website or product pages.

I’d say, the garment size chart ends up taking the most time to make as these need to be updated for each garment. 

You’ve probably noticed that most established fashion brands have a page dedicated to showcase their external body size charts and also individual garment size charts for each product. But once in a while, you’ll come across a possibly smaller brand that only has one of either.

Why do I Need a Size Chart for my Fashion Brand?

If you’re still contemplating on the importance of having size charts, consider the pointers below:

  1. Consistency in sizing
  2. Reduced returns and exchanges
  3. Online shopping convenience
  4. Reduction of customer support
Why do i need a size chart
  1. Consistency in sizing: Size charts establish a standardized sizing framework for all your clothing items. This ensures that garments across your brand fit consistently, reducing the risk of customer dissatisfaction due to unexpected fit on clothes. For designers and sample makers, internal size charts provide essential measurements for creating patterns that translate into well-fitting garments. 
  2. Reduced returns and exchanges: A size chart helps customers select the right size, reducing the likelihood of returns and exchanges – saving your brand time and resources. 
  3. Online shopping convenience: As customers can’t physically try on clothes during online shopping, size charts provide the necessary information for making these decisions.
  4. Reduction of customer support: Your Customer Service Rep will surely thank you as clear size charts help answer repetitive customer questions about sizing and product measurements. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Size Charts for your Fashion Brand

Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating effective size charts tailored to your fashion brand’s needs.

  1. Determine the sizing for your fashion brand
  2. Determine the key Points of Measure (POMs)
  3. Select the size range
  4. Input the measurements in your template (or use my FREE size chart templates)
  5. Provide additional notes or instructions
  6. Regularly update your size charts
steps to creating size charts for your fashion brand

1. Determine the sizing for your fashion brand

Each brand has their “ideal body type” depending on their target market. 

Begin by understanding your target audience’s demographics, lifestyle, and preferences. This will help you define your brand’s ideal body type measurements. 

In addition to this, brands catering to different age groups should have separate size charts for each of their categories. For example, a male size chart, female size chart, children’s size chart, and so on.

In my experience in the industry, it’s common for prominent fashion brands to do a wide scale research to come up with the internal size charts. For instance, a brand that markets their clothing to young men in their early 20s measured hundreds of individuals within this age group, all of whom shared an average height.

But surely, not everyone has the resources to pull off such a large scale project. So, if you’re a freelance fashion designer or building your own brand, there are simpler alternatives to this. 

Some start-up brands may refer to industry sizing standards, which you can often see in pattern-making books in the market. One of the go-to books I can recommend is Pattern-making for Fashion Design by Helen Armstrong.

Other options are to reference the measurements of existing brands or consult with a fit expert or technical designer to build your brand’s body size chart template. 

2. Determine the key Points of Measure (POMs)

Identify the essential measurements that will make up your size chart. Different garments require specific considerations so you’ll need to choose the relevant points of measure (POMs) for each garment type.

3. Select the size range

Decide on the size range that your brand will offer. This can vary based on your target audience, the type of clothing you’re designing, and your budget. For example, a fashion brand offering diverse sizes may have clothing sizes from XXS to 3XL, while a small merch tee brand may only offer limited sizing in S, M, L. 

To add to that, even within a brand, not all garments may offer the same size range. To avoid surplus – there are cases where merchandisers opt to offer select clothing in a limited size range if the design is not predicted to sell in huge quantities or if the size is intended to run bigger.

For example, in a womenswear brand I worked with before, their usual size range runs from XS to XL, but for more expensive styles such as denim jackets, they only offer them in S, M, and L, because of the price tag and also considering that the jacket is oversized and can easily fit more size ranges. 

4. Input the measurements in your template (or use my FREE size chart templates)

Input the determined size range and measurements in your template. You can either customize your templates for your fashion brand, find or purchase templates online, or better yet, use my free size chart templates as your starting point!

5. Provide additional notes or instructions

Add any other helpful notes such as size conversion chart options for different measurement units (inches or cm), variation of dress size categories by area (like UK, US, EU). 

Additionally, consider including any size related disclaimers if applicable. You might have seen some fashion brands that write down “Garment may shrink X% after washing.” 

This transparency ensures customers are informed about potential changes in fit after laundry and can anticipate if they need to buy a size bigger. 

6. Regularly update your size charts

Fashion trends, feedback from customers, and adjustments to designs can lead to changes in sizing. Keep your size charts up-to-date to avoid confusion and dissatisfaction.

Free Fashion Size Chart Templates

Creating body measurement size charts and garment size charts might seem like another task added to a hundred other tasks you’re already working on. 

The thing is – it doesn’t have to be hard. Which is why I decided to make size chart templates that are good to go – saving you all the time and trouble.

What’s Included in my FREE Fashion Size Chart Templates: 

  • Internal Body Measurement Size Chart Template: This template provides a template for recording body measurements including the main POMs needed, helping you define your fashion brand’s sizing standards. 
  • External Body Measurement Size Chart Template: A far shorter version of the internal size chart, the external size chart is a quick and easy template you can provide your customers. The template includes the shoulder, chest, waist, and hips measurements – suitable to guide your customer in finding the perfect fit.
  • Garment Size Chart Templates: These templates offer a range of garment-specific size charts and important POMs to take note for your customer. The clothing size chart templates include the following:
    • T-shirt Size Chart Template
    • Button Down Size Chart Template
    • Pants Size Chart Template 
    • Skirt Size Chart Template

I understand that your time is precious, and that’s why I carefully crafted these templates to save you valuable hours when you create size charts. Each template comes complete with placeholders (that you can customize!) to make the process as smooth as possible. 

Feel free to download these templates and integrate them into your workflow – saving you one less task for the day. 

Get the Freedom and Pride That Comes with Taking Charge of Your Own Destiny in Fashion

I’m Heidi, and I believe that you can do things differently in your fashion career.

Because the truth is, most industry jobs will underpay and overwork you. Having your own brand is far from profitable (and let’s be honest, most of them fail). 

So if you ACTUALLY want to work as a fashion designer and get paid, the best way to do it is as a freelancer.

Now, maybe you’ve been told that “brands don’t accept remote freelancers”…

Or believe that freelancing means being an exploited temp employee working full time without benefits…

Or to freelance, you have to be a rockstar expert with allll the skills from design through development

I’m going to show that it IS possible to be a REAL freelancer in fashion, work remotely with brands you love, AND make money (even if you’re terrified you don’t have all the answers).


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