The Average American Woman Wears Size 16 to 18, Study Finds

Women in this country are, on average, wearing dress sizes between 16 and 18, up from the previous average of size 14, according to new research. The study analyzed body measurements from the most recently published National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys.

What’s more, these measurements were compared to industry clothing size standards, and found that the standards need a major overhaul. Misses size 16 to 18 translates to a women’s plus size 20W, and updates to the misses and plus-size standards are long overdue.

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The article, published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, found that the size-14 standard was based on super old data—from 10 years ago.

The average American woman “actually wears between a Misses size 16–18, which is equivalent to a Women’s Plus size 20,” the researchers wrote. “In light of this overlap in sizing classification, frequent reports of female customers being frustrated about the general fit and sizing of clothing is understandable.”

With an update to sizing standards, it’s more likely we’d have clothes that actually fit the average woman properly, the authors found, which could result in less returns at the store. Win-win all around.

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