Measurement books were just that–to record the physical measurements of the Tirocchis’ clients. Because garments were not sized as they are today in stores, accurate measurements were essential to a good fit. The dressmakers were careful to take all the measurements they needed to make a custom gown or to order or alter a ready-made dress. Typically, they made the following measurements:


- Waist
- Hip
- Bust
- Armhole
- Across Shoulder
- Line in Back
- Line in Front
- Length of Sleeve
- Front Sleeve
- Wrist
- Length Back
- Length Front
- Head Size

The measurements are recorded by client in books that are dated and undated. Presumably, the measurements were updated year by year, but it is hard to determine from the remaining books just how often they were updated. The Tirocchi shop made gowns for many wedding parties, so often the books take several pages to record the measurements for an entire wedding party.

The curators have not used these measurement books very much to date, aside from verifying information about clients (and wedding parties) contained in other records. A scholar of costume history, however, plans to use the books to analyze the changing figure of the American woman over the decades that the shop operated.

Little did the Tirocchi sisters–or their clients–dream that these books would ever be used for any purpose other than to help the dressmakers make the perfect fit for their clients. Historians know that written evidence often sheds light on topics other than the obvious one at hand. These modest little working notebooks illustrate that point perfectly.

[ printable version ]


   Sources and Methods
   The People
   The Business
   Custom Dressmaking
      Remaining Garments
      Swatch Books



Information from the measurement books has been transfered into a Measurements Database.