Dress size Guide

Taking Your Measurements

Unseen woman measuring her bustline

Dress sizes are determined by three main measurements: bust, waist and hips. The problem that many women have in finding the right size is in taking the right measurements. Because while these three measurements may sound pretty straightforward, many people don’t know how to get these correct measurements.

Stand up straight and tall. Use good posture by standing with your shoulders back and your head lifted up with a straight neck.

To take the bust measurement, take the tape measure straight across the chest just below the armpits and around your back, encircling the chest. Take this body measurement while wearing no bra or while wearing a close-fitting, non-padded bra. This bust measurement corresponds to the band size of your bra size (the number). Cup size (the letter) usually isn’t a factor when it comes to picking out a dress.

To get a waist measurement, you want to measure your natural waistline. Measure around the thinnest part of your waist, typically two inches above the belly button, just below the bottom ribs. This is where your natural waist sits.

Take the hip measurement, measure at the widest part of the hip. Go straight around the body at this area. Keep the line straight, even as you go across your backside in the rear, to get an accurate hip measurement.

Record measurements to the tenth of the inch. Don’t pull the measuring tape tight. It should fit close but not tight. If you measure tightly, your dress will end up being too small. Remember, this isn’t vanity sizing.

Finding Your Size

Dress Size Chart

Once you have your clothing size measurements, you can use this info to match the numbers to dress size charts. Women’s dress sizes are listed at numbers beginning at 0 and going up from there…which is super confusing. The only way to convert measurements into actual dress sizes is to use a conversion chart.

Having very specific measurements will help you find your size using a standard sizing chart. For the most part, women’s clothing and dress sizes are pretty standardized among U.S. manufacturers. However, dresses for U.S. markets are made all over the world. That means there can be some big differences in sizing, depending on the brand you’re buying. When you’re searching for dresses online, always check the clothing size chart before you buy. You may find that even though you wear a 16 most of the time, you’re a 12 with a different dress maker.

Petite and Plus Sizes

Dress Size Chart, Petite
Dress Size Chart, PlusNot all women are shaped equally. Women come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, and every body is absolutely unique. That’s why certain dress styles will look more flattering on your figure than others. But before you can figure out your ideal dress style, you need to figure out your correct size. If your body type is smaller or curvier than what’s considered “average,” a petite women’s clothing size or plus size is the solution for you.

Style can help a lot, too. An empire waist dress is a great choice if you have a wider waistline, for example. If you have a smaller bust size, a cowl neck can be a great choice.

Dress Length

Getting the right dress length is extremely tricky because women are built in all different heights, too. You can be quite curvy, which requires a larger size, and still lack height. You can be very petite with a small bust, waist and hips and yet be a very tall size. Pay attention to dress length. On dresses, length is often measured from the shoulder and neckline all the way to the hem of the dress.

Find the length of your body by measuring from the bottom of your collar bone down to the top of your ankle bone. This will give you a good idea of where the length of a dress will fit on your body when you’re looking at a women’s size chart. If you’re going to have extra length, you can have the dress cut and hemmed. The extra fabric that was cut away can possibly be re-purposed to decorate a bag or an accessory for the dress.

The Perfect Fit

Women in different color dresses and sunglassesMost people don’t have a standard size. Your body changes over time. Many people experience body size fluctuations from season to season. Check your measurements periodically so you can be sure you’re buying clothing that fits you well. Once you know how to take measurements and match those to a size chart you can always get a garment that fits well on you, which is a big step toward looking more fashionable and stylish every day.