Get Your Sizing Breakdown Sorted [5 Simple Steps]

Has finalising your sizing breakdown got you stumped?

Maybe you’ve done this before, or maybe it’s your first time?  If this part of getting started on your printing has got you stumped, don’t worry, you’re not alone…choosing your final sizing breakdown is no easy feat!

Through 10 years of research and learning from client experiences, we’ve developed this formula to help you make the right choice.

Before we get stuck into it, I just want to share something with you. Now, it’s a pretty big deal. You might not want to hear it. But, it’s the truth and I promise you will feel a whole lot better once we get it out in the open….

Are you ready?

You are not going to get your sizing breakdown perfect the first time.

PHEW…. what a relief to get that off my chest!  How are you feeling? Are you alright? 🙂

Even the biggest and most successful apparel brands need to tweak their sizing logic as they go along from run to run.

Before we jump into the steps, let’s make sure you’ve got the right preparation in place.

Put your sizing breakdown on the ‘to do’ list nice and early

Don’t leave it until the last minute! Far too often that the sizing breakdown is seen as somewhat of an afterthought, and this can mean delays in getting started with your order.

Our first step in creating your custom apparel will be to get our hands on your specific garments, this is why we need your sizing breakdown before we can begin working on your order.

Pre-Orders or Projection?

Your starting point boils down to 1 of 2 options:
    a – You’re accepting Pre-Orders
    b – You’re going to do a sizing Projection
(or as I like to call it, an educated ‘guesstimate’)

If you’re going with option a) Pre Orders – this means that once you’ve decided on your design, garment style & colour, you’ll go to your “people” and collect their orders & sizing. Then you’ll add some extras on top of each size to allow for extra orders or swap overs.

(More on this topic of Pre-Orders later on, stay tuned…)

For those of you doing b) sizing projection, this can seem quite daunting and a little hard to know where to begin!

Let me start by saying, don’t worry. Absolutely everyone faces this challenge.  The last thing you want to do is allow the stress over your sizing breakdown to eat into your production timeframe, and add un-necessary pressure to your life!

Assess the “Norms” for your demographic

Try to narrow this down to gender & age at the very least, as this will really start to formulate into a proper sizing ratio for you.

To get you started, here are a few questions that will help you paint a picture of who’s wearing your custom apparel:

Who’s wearing your shirts?
Male / Female / Youth?
Are you using mens sizing as a unisex style?
Or are you using gender specific garments?
Do you have way more ladies than mens, or vice versa?

A few general tips;
When using Mens sizing (unisex) to cover male & female, generally speaking ladies tend to order more in the XS / S / M mens garment sizing, so you might want to add extras into those sizes.

If you’re going for gender specific styles, generally speaking we see the most popular sizing for mens garments is in the M and L, whereas the most popular sizing for ladies is in the S and M.

BUT – these are generalisations and aren’t true for everyone, it’s just what we tend to see most of the time.

Don’t offer too many options

Unless you’re releasing a full seasonal design range, it’s probably worth easing up on the options you offer.

When faced with too many options, people can feel a bit paralysed and hold up the purchasing decision. Don’t take my word for it, you can learn a bit more about this phenomenon on Kiss Metrics’ post here, or read up on the NY Times’ take on it here.

Think of it this way, however many options you have, you will need to hold stock of that option across 4 – 6 sizes in EACH…it very quickly adds up!

I’m thinking the topic of too many options would be best to delve into in a whole new article, so watch this space.

Now that you’re well prepared – let’s get stuck into it!

As a wise man once said:

“Begin with the end in mind” – Steven Covey
(7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

Reverse engineer your sizing breakdown.  Start from your TOTAL quantity, and work backwards from there.

STEP 1) Lay out your options

You may have only 1 option, for example 100 White Ladies Tshirts, which is great and makes life much easier!

But many of you will roll with more than 1 option.  Let’s do one together, you can follow my example in each step:

I’ve got an order of 100 garments, a mens t-shirt in black or red, and a ladies racerback tank in black only.

STEP 2) Decide on your LARGEST and SMALLEST sizes

Just remember, you don’t need to offer every size that is made by the manufacturer! Figure out what’s right for your audience.

For me, here’s the sizing range I’d like to roll with in each option:
Mens Tees – S – XL
Ladies Racerback – XS – L

STEP 3) Decide on the approximate ratio within your options

Will your options have an even split?

Or will you need far more in a certain style?

For my example, I guesstimate that only about 30% of my audience are ladies wanting a racerback, and in general I think the BLACK mens t-shirt is going to be more popular than the red.

Here’s how I’ve broken it down:

Mens Tee – BLACK = 50% (50 shirts)
Mens Tee – RED = 25% (25 shirts)
Ladies Racerback – BLACK = 25% (25 tanks)

STEP 4) Fill in the blanks PER STYLE

Now that you’ve got your total within each style sorted (eg: black tees x 50 / red tees x 25 / tanks x 25) focus on 1 style at a time to fill in the blanks.

At this point you’ll probably find yourself shuffling the numbers around a couple times before it looks ‘right’, and that’s totally normal.

After a little tweaking, here’s what I decided for my example sizing breakdown:

sizing breakdown example


Make sure you look over your mental arithmetic with a calculator 🙂

Got all that?

You may also find that your overall quantity is too small for the options you have available, and that’s ok too.  Any increase in your overall quantity is only going to decrease your cost per unit.  It will be much more profitable for you to add some extras in now rather than running out and having to do a smaller print run straight after.

The great news is that once you’ve got your first print run under your belt you’ll have a better idea of what sizing ratio is good for your demographic, and you can tweak it from there.

If you get stuck and need a little help – just give us a call 1300 853 474

Your Apparel Consultant is here to guide you!  You can think of them as your personal assistant for all things apparel.

Now you’re ready to tackle your sizing and break it down!