In casual outerwear like parkas fit is not as important as it is in sports jackets or overcoats, as long as the garment is not too small. Alterations are rarely done. Far fewer sizes are manufactured and they are identified by letters, not numbers. The sizes are not standardized; each manufacturer uses its own judgment in choosing the mixture of “builds” it believes make up its market.
To illustrate the nature and extent of the variations, reproduced here with their permission is a recent size table from Eddie Bauer, a highly reputable supplier of outdoor wear.
Tall men's sizes are 1½–2 inches longer in sleeves and body (¾ inches longer if short sleeved). XXL, larger all over.
Comparing these sizes with those of another outdoor clothing supplier, we find that the two companies' XL sizes are virtually identical. For a person with a 34-inch chest, however, Bauer suggests size XS and the second company suggests size S. Their size S has a 28–30-inch waist, 14–14½ inch neck, and 32–33 inch sleeve; in other words, the waist, neck, and sleeve length are each an inch bigger than Bauer's XS size. The sizes describe two very differently shaped bodies.
The example shows that one should not simply rely on suit size in choosing jackets, and that despite the limited number of sizes and lack of alterations, the alert shopper does have a choice of fits.
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Last revised: 11 July 2001.