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Is a size 6 a small?

Determining whether a size 6 is considered a small or not depends on several factors, including the clothing type, brand, country sizing standards, and body measurements of the individual wearing the size 6 garment. While a women’s size 6 is generally on the smaller end of standard clothing sizes, the answer is not straightforward. This article will examine how sizing varies between countries, how vanity sizing has changed the meaning of standard sizes over time, and the typical body measurements associated with a size 6. With this context, we can better understand where a size 6 falls on the size chart spectrum.

History of Standard Clothing Sizes

Modern standard clothing sizes emerged in the early 20th century as mass production made ready-to-wear clothing widespread. In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration commissioned a study to establish a commercial standard for clothing sizes based on actual body measurements of American women. This study developed the first commercial sizing system for the apparel industry, ranging from size 8 to size 38. A size 8 corresponded to a bust of 31-32 inches, a waist of 23-24 inches, and a hip of 33-34 inches.

Since this initial standard was introduced, clothing sizes have evolved significantly. One major change is the introduction of smaller sizes to accommodate petite builds. Size 6 and size 4 were added as new “extra-small” sizes in the 1950s. Another major shift is vanity sizing, where clothing brands adjust sizing standards to make customers feel better about wearing smaller sizes. On average, standard US sizes have increased by 4-6% per decade since the 1930s. A size 6 today equates closer to a size 10-12 in the original sizing standard.

Women’s Size Charts by Country

Women’s clothing sizes differ across geographic regions due to differences in body shape and cultural sizing norms. Here is an overview of common size charts for women’s clothing in various countries:

United States

Size Bust Waist Hips
0 31-33″ 22-24″ 32.5-34.5″
2 32.5-34.5″ 23-25″ 33.5-35.5″
4 33.5-35.5″ 24-26″ 34.5-36.5″
6 34.5-36.5″ 25-27″ 35.5-37.5″
8 35.5-37.5″ 26-28″ 36.5-38.5″
10 36.5-38.5″ 27-29″ 37.5-39.5″
12 37.5-39.5″ 28-30″ 38.5-40.5″

United Kingdom

Size Bust Waist
4 31″ 24″
6 32″ 25″
8 33″ 26″
10 34″ 27″
12 35″ 28″
14 36″ 29″
16 37″ 30″


Size Bust Waist Hips
32 31-33″ 24-25″ 33.5-35.5″
34 32.5-34.5″ 25-26″ 34.5-36.5″
36 33.5-35.5″ 26-28″ 35.5-37.5″
38 34.5-36.5″ 28-30″ 36.5-38.5″
40 35.5-37.5″ 30-32″ 37.5-39.5″


Asian size charts vary dramatically by country. Some examples:


Size Bust
XS 31-33″
S 33-35″
M 35-37″
L 37-39″


Size Bust
5 31-32″
7 33-34″
9 35-36″
11 37-38″

Is a US Size 6 Considered Small?

In the United States, a women’s size 6 generally indicates a smaller build, but not extremely petite. The typical measurements associated with a US size 6 are:

  • Bust: 34.5-36.5 inches
  • Waist: 25-27 inches
  • Hips: 35.5-37.5 inches

This equates to a slim, straight figure. However, due to vanity sizing, a modern size 6 corresponds to a bust measurement of 36-38 inches in some brands.

Here is how a US size 6 compares to common size designations:

XXS 00-0
XS 0-2
S 4-6
M 8-10
L 12-14
XL 16-18

So in most US clothing brands, a size 6 falls into the small (S) size category. However, it is on the upper end of small versus extremely petite. Some “junior” or teen brands may designate a size 6 as “medium.” But for standard women’s sizing, a US size 6 is widely considered a small.

How Sizing Varies by Clothing Type

While a size 6 typically indicates a smaller figure, sizing also varies significantly by clothing type and style:

Dresses: For dresses, a size 6 is likely to fit someone on the petite side, with a slim hourglass shape.

Tops: For fitted blouses and knit tops, a size 6 would correspond to a slim straight build, not extremely busty. Oversized and loose-fitting tops in size 6 can fit a wider range of body types.

Bottoms: For pants, skirts, and shorts, someone between a 4 and 8 could potentially fit a size 6 comfortably depending on body shape. Curvy figures may size up.

Outerwear: For structured jackets and coats, a size 6 will best fit straight, athletic builds under 5’5″. Curvier shapes may need a larger size for hips and bust.

Intimates: For lingerie and undergarments, a size 6 fits busts 32A-34B. Full-busted women likely need a larger size.

So in summary, while a size 6 typically corresponds to a small frame, it can vary depending on the garment cut and fabric. The best way to determine your size is to reference the specific brand’s size chart. Sizing is not standardized across all brands and styles.

Fit Challenges for Size 6

Here are some common fit issues women encounter when wearing a size 6:

Too tight in hips and rear: The narrowest part of a size 6 garment is made for 25-27 inch waists. Curvier figures with fuller hips and bottoms may find size 6 pants or skirts too tight and constricting in this area.

Too loose at waist: For petite women with straight or ruler body types, a size 6 may fit the hips but be loose at the waist. Tailoring or belt may be needed.

Too small in bust: The size 6 bust measurement tops out at 36.5 inches. Well-endowed women likely need to size up, particularly for button-up tops which can gap.

Shoulders too narrow: The shoulders and upper back of a size 6 are made to fit more narrow frames. Broad-shouldered women may struggle with tight armholes.

Inseams too short: A standard size 6 pant inseam assumes a shorter height under 5’5″. Taller women likely need petite or tall sizing.

Overall too short: The length of dresses, sleeves, and pants in size 6 cater to shorter statures. Tall women may find the proportions too short.

So in summary, size 6 works best for women 5’4″ and under with slim, straight body shapes. Curvier and taller women may need to size up or find a brand with more custom sizing options.

Is a Size 6 Plus Size?

No, a size 6 is not considered a plus size. The common size threshold used for plus sizes is 14-16 and up. Here is how standard US size categories break down:

Petite Sizes 0-6
Misses/Average Sizes 4-14
Plus Sizes 14-24
Extended Plus Sizes 26-32

So while a size 6 skews to the petite end of the spectrum, it is still within the standard misses/average size range. It is several sizes smaller than the start of plus sizes.

However, some specialty lines designed for teens or very petite women may categorize a 6 as a larger size. For example, “juniors plus” sizes often start at a 7/8 or 9/10 to accommodate teen curves. But for standard women’s sizing, a size 6 is not considered a plus size. Most plus size clothing lines would be far too large in the bust and hips for someone who typically wears a size 6.

Size 6 in Historical Context

As previously mentioned, a modern size 6 is significantly larger than a size 6 in the original sizing standards. Here is how women’s measurements have shifted for a size 6 over time:


Size 6: Bust 32″, Waist 25″, Hips 34.5″


Size 6: Bust 33″, Waist 26″, Hips 35″


Size 6: Bust 34-35″, Waist 25-27″, Hips 36-37″


Size 6: Bust 35-37″, Waist 26-28″, Hips 37-39″

So while a 1930s size 6 corresponded to a petite figure, today’s size 6 accommodates a fuller bust and hips. Modern vanity sizing means a size 6 today equates to a size 10-12 based on historical sizing.

This sizable shift means a woman wearing size 6 today likely has 2-4 inches more bust and hip than a size 6 in eras like the 1950s. So the meaning of a size 6 has expanded over time.

Size 6 Outside the US

Since sizing varies internationally, a US size 6 differs from a size 6 in Europe, UK, or Asia. Here’s how a US size 6 typically converts to other regions:

Europe: 36

UK: 10

Japan: 9

China: M/L

So in most countries, a US size 6 is equivalent to a larger size on the chart. For example, a size 6 dress from the UK would be about two sizes larger than a US size 6 dress of the same brand.

It’s important to check the specific brand’s size charts when shopping from international retailers. Numeric sizes do not correspond directly across different sizing standards. A local size 6 in one country may translate to a different US size.

Size 6 for Men and Children

This article has focused on women’s standard sizing, but size 6 means differently for men’s and children’s clothing:

Men’s: A men’s size 6 is a small size, equivalent to a boys’ size 18 or 20. It fits chests 34-36″, a men’s small.

Girls: For girls’ clothing, size 6 is a common size for ages 6-8 years old. The average 6 year old girl has a height of 46″ and weighs 46 lbs.

Boys: A boys’ size 6 fits young school-age boys, around 8-10 years old. The average 9 year old boy is 52″ tall and weighs 63 lbs.

So while a women’s size 6 fits petite adult frames, a size 6 has a totally different meaning for men’s and kids’ sizing. It corresponds to small boys and young grade schoolers rather than extra-small women’s sizes. Sizing charts vary widely between these demographics.


In today’s sizing, a US women’s size 6 typically indicates a straight, slim figure for petite women rather than extremely small sizes. It corresponds to a bust of roughly 34.5-36.5 inches and a hip of 35.5-37.5 inches on average. While on the smaller side of standard sizes, a size 6 still falls within the misses/average size range rather than plus sizes. Sizing is not standardized across brands and styles, so carefully checking size charts is always recommended for fit. But in most modern clothing lines, a size 6 is equivalent to a small for women rather than children or men’s sizing. So while meanings can vary by era and country, a women’s size 6 generally indicates a smaller but not extremely tiny figure by today’s vanity sizing standards.