Short History of Ready-Made Clothing

Before the American Civil War, ready-made (also called ready-to-wear) apparel existed but its variety was limited. Mainly coats and jackets (known as outerwear) and undergarments were purchased using predetermined sizes. Most clothing was made by tailors or by individuals or their family members at home.

The Civil War was a pivotal event in the historical development of men's ready-made clothing. At the outset of the Civil War, most uniforms were custom-made in workers' homes under government contract. As the war continued, however, manufacturers started to build factories that could quickly and efficiently meet the growing demands of the military. Mass production of uniforms necessitated the development of standard sizes. Measurements taken of the soldiers revealed that certain sets of measurements tended to recur with predictable regularity. After the war, these military measurements were used to create the first commercial sizing scales for men.