Perception testing of apparel ease variation

Susan P. Ashdown, Marilyn DeLong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The development of new computer technologies designed to custom-fit apparel has created a need for quantification of apparel fit characteristics. Fit perception and preference data are needed to improve sizing for ready-to-wear and custom-fitted apparel. Tactile responses of subjects to the fit of pants were investigated using an adaptation of an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) sensory perception test. The test was designed to establish thresholds in apparel fit: that is, the smallest difference in garment dimensions that can be consistently perceived and identified. The test samples for the study were a set of 15 pants, which varied in size, made for each participant from precise computer-generated patterns. Four female experts in apparel fit, who comprised the subject panel, each recorded their responses to these pants compared to a control. Control pants were custom-fitted to each panel member; the remaining pants in each set varied from the control by 0.5 to 1.5 cm at a single location (waist, hips, or crotch length). When the pants were presented in a blind test, the panel perceived differences as small as 0.5 cm in pants waist size from the control. Differences of 1.5 cm were perceptible at the hip and crotch. The subject's level of acceptance of the fit variations in the pants was then judged using a preference test. This test revealed differences among individual subjects in the acceptability of fit variations in waist and crotch dimensions; judgements of the acceptability of hip variations were more consistent among the subjects. Judging from the results of this testing, it is concluded that threshold levels at which fit differences can be perceived can be established for different areas of the body, and that perceptible fit variations can be quite small. This testing also showed that individuals vary in their tolerance for fit variations at different locations on the body.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-54
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1995

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by 3M, the Department of Design, Housing, and Apparel, University of Minnesota, and by the Twin City Economists in Home and Community. Fabric was supplied by Galey and Lord.


  • apparel fit
  • apparel sizing
  • computer-aided design
  • custom-made clothing
  • preference testing
  • sensory percepton
  • tactile perception


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