In rural areas, women wanted fashionable clothes, too. Many small towns did not offer department stores until after World War II, so women in remote areas relied on paper patterns to sew their own clothes or on mail order catalogs to bring them the latest styles.
Paper patterns, available since 1860, began the trend of standardizing women's sizes. Butterick even published a women's wear magazine that offered style tips and advice for the types of fabrics and trims that would go best with each pattern.
Sears Roebuck launched their mail order catalog business in 1893. The catalog remained important to rural customers for several decades. The catalog did not use standard sizing, so the clothes often needed alterations for a tailored fit.