Let your fingers do the shopping
A year after the U.S. Mail began Rural Free Delivery in 1896, Sears claimed that it was selling four ready-to-wear suits every minute. When the Parcel Post Act of 1912 authorized the post office to deliver packages weighing more than four pounds, mail-order really took off. In 1910 Sears, Roebuck mailed out 2.3 million catalogs; in 1929, more than 7 million.
“The more you order by mail, the more convinced you will be that mail-order is the easiest way to order the necessities of life.”
–Sears, Roebuck catalog, 1927
Even in the 1890s, ready-to-wear clothing was available in fixed sizes. But not until World War I were the first national standards established defining specific measurements for each size—making mail-order shopping less risky. At the same time, a new taste for looser-fitting styles helped mask variations of fit within a particular size.