Sizing and Condition Guide


As the pieces we sell were made at different times with different practices and regulations guiding their sizing, it is difficult to assign a modern sizing system to them. Many homemade and couture pieces were made to custom fit the owner.

At Halcyon Days Vintage we use two systems of sizing. First we make a best estimate of the modern size each piece most closely aligns to by comparing the garment measurements to this chart. This is your guide to make a quick decision, but please always check our garment measurements if it is out of your usual range using this method. 

Secondly, we provide measurements of each garment laid flat, provided in metric centimetres (cm). If you are measuring against your body remember to double these figures.

Having trouble with sizing? Compare our measurements with a similar garment of yours lain flat. Here are where we take our measurements:

Shoulder to shoulder: Horizontal measurement from one shoulder seam to the other. If there are no seams at the shoulder or they are an intentional ‘drop shoulder’ style then this measurement is taken at the widest point of the natural shoulder line before the sleeve drapes to the arm.

Underarm to underarm (aka ‘bust’): Horizontal measurement across the chest or bust area from the underarm seam to the other. Where there are darts or shaping around the bust this is mentioned in the description.

Waist: Horizontal measurement at the smallest part of the waist area. This is not always the location of the waist seam (e.g. for empire or drop waists) but is where the dress is tailored to dip into the natural waist.

Hips: Horizontal measurement often approximately 20cm below the waistline, often at the smallest width of the skirt, where the hip naturally is. For generous or circle skirts we label ’free’ size.

Shoulder to hem: Vertical measurement from the highest point of the shoulder seam to the lowest point of the skirt hem.

Remember to take into account the fabric stretch and strength, as well as the closures, for example a long zip below the waistline will help you get into a narrow waisted, form-fitting wiggle dress. 

If you are unsure about the sizing of an item please get in touch and we can provide more details for you. We recommend you take the time to check the measurements as we do not offer returns or refunds if an item doesn’t fit.

Vintage Sizes

Up to and including 1970, either a different numbering system or the XXSSW to XXXOS system were used (SW meant ‘Small Women’s’). We will state this old size as well as a new converted.


Most of our items are 50 – 100+ years old and they have easily lived a lifetime, or even several! Wear consistent with the age of the item is to be expected. Our stock is housed, cleaned and repaired with museum principles in mind. We are diligent in the inspection and protection of our garments and take great care to describe the items as accurately as possible. Flaws, imperfections and repairs will be noted, especially those that may affect the presentation or wearability of the item.

Our grading system gives a general overview as to the condition of the item:

Mint: Best condition possible. There is no visible damage, wear or alteration. Likely never worn.

Near-Mint: There is only a tiny portion of visible damage, wear or alteration contained to a small area. Likely never worn. Its structure is strong and whole.

Excellent: There is a normal level of visible wear to be expected from use or age, but no obvious flaws such as stains or holes. No structural damage.

Very Good: There is a normal level of visible wear and small flaws to be expected from regular use or age. These do not take away from the quality of other features.

Good: There are visible flaws, but the item is wearable. The fabric may not be strong enough for everyday wear (e.g. very gentle wear for antique items).

Fair: There are visible flaws, which have either been visibly repaired or are irreparable.

Poor: There are visible flaws that are not reparable. The item is not wearable but may be used for study or display.