St Albans Tailors, Clothing Alterations and Repairs, sewing

A WOMAN’S GUIDE TO CLOTHING MEASUREMENTS

Whether you’re purchasing something online or having something altered, knowing your measurements – including your bust, waist, hip, seam, shoulder width and sleeve length – is key to having perfectly fitted clothing. And having your clothes sitting just right can really make the difference between looking good and looking great in a piece of clothing.

But how do you ensure you have your measurements right? We’ll walk you through how to take each of your measurements in this comprehensive guide.

WHY ARE MEASUREMENTS SO IMPORTANT?

Measurements are so often taken for granted, but they are a crucial part of so many aspects of life. Take medicine for example. If you have an illness that requires medication, you must ensure you take the proper amount to get better. When you bake, you have to carefully distribute ingredients to ensure just the right taste and texture. And then there’s temperature – you wouldn’t dunk a teabag in warm water now, would you? Similarly, getting your body’s measurements right helps your clothing do what it was intended to do: it gives you the recipe required to look your best.

Measurements in clothing have become even more important in recent years, thanks to our growing love of online shopping. Whether you buy them from a big box store or a custom clothier, shopping online can save you a ton – but you do run the risk of purchasing something that’s not the right fit.

Most people have a rough idea of what size they are (an 8, 10, 12, 14 for example, or a small, medium, or large). But to shop online without the fear that you’ll be forced to return your goods you must have more accurate knowledge of your size and shape. Remember, one company’s size 10 is another company’s size 8, with some labels and designers purposefully using ‘vanity sizes’ to make customers feel better about themselves and more loyal to a brand.

The more you know about your body, the better you can dress it. Keep your measurements written down, and refer to them when shopping or ordering custom-made apparel. Store them in your phone or purse, so you have them handy wherever you go.

SO HOW DO YOU GET ACCURATE MEASUREMENTS?

The best way to get accurate measurements is to have them professionally taken. This is especially important for woman and bra sizes, which can be tricky to fit without being being tried on. LookSmart Alterations has over 25 years experience in alterations, tailoring and repairs, and have store locations right across Australia. We’d be happy to take your measurements and provide you with the perfect fit to compliment your style and body type.

But if you need to take some quick measurements at home, or if you want to check if your body has changed since your last professional measuring, here’s how to do it yourself.

For men, taking your own measurements is about paying attention to a few key areas. For pants and slacks it requires height, waist size, and inseam measurements, while shirts focus on chest size, sleeve length and neck size.

For women it’s a little more complicated.

Like men, your key areas to measure will be your chest, waist, hips and inseam. But you’ll also want to measure your “natural waistâ€, or the slimmest part of your torso, and the fullest part of your legs and bust. If you plan on wearing collared shirts and blouses, add neck size and sleeve length to this list as well.

To get started, all you need is a soft tape measure and a notepad and pencil to jot the measurements down as you go.

HOW TO MEASURE YOUR BUST

  1. Start by removing your top and bra. Place the tape measure directly below your bust, ensuring it’s level and snug. Round to the nearest whole number. If the number is even, add four inches. If the number is odd, add five inches. This will become your ‘band number’ (eg the 34 in 34D).
  2. Wrap the measuring tape loosely around the fullest part of your chest, at nipple level. Round to the nearest whole number. This will become your bust measurement.
  3. Subtract your band size from your bust size. If there is a difference of zero inches, your cup size is AA. If there is a difference of one inch your cup size is an A. For every increase in inch difference you go up a cup size.

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HOW TO MEASURE YOUR WAIST

  1. Start by removing your clothing or raising your shirt to just below your chest. The tape measure will need to be against your bare stomach to offer accurate information.
  2. Using your fingers, find your waist by placing your thumbs at the base of your rib cage and your index fingers at the top of your hips. Your waist will be the narrowest part of your torso.
  3. Stand up straight, exhale slowly, and bring the measuring tape from your navel around your body to connect at the front. The tape should be parallel to the floor and fit snugly around your torso without digging in.
  4. Write down the number at the meeting point of the measuring tape. This is your waist measurement.

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HOW TO MEASURE YOUR HIPS

  1. Stand in front of a full length mirror in just your underwear. This will help ensure your tape doesn’t twist. Place your feet together, toes facing forward.
  2. Find the widest part of your hips and place your measuring tape in the middle of this point by securing it with your thumb on the side of your hip.
  3. Bring the tape around your back to join at the starting point. The tape should be level to ensure it records your bottom measurements too, and snug but not digging in. If you can fit more than one finger under the joined tape, it’s too loose.
  4. Record the number at the meeting point of the tape. This is your hip measurement.

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HOW TO MEASURE YOUR SHOULDERS

  1. For this particular measurement, you will need a partner. If you don’t have a partner, simply find a shirt that fits you very well and measure the garment.
  2. If you have a partner, stand in front facing them. Start measuring from the outside edge of the shoulder where the yoke of the shirt will be.
  3. Measure across the curve of your shoulders to the outside edge.
  4. If you need to measure from the shoulder to your bust, start at the middle point of the slope of your shoulder and measure down towards your nipple.


HOW TO MEASURE YOUR ARM LOOP

  1. Standing with your feet flat on the ground and with your arms down by your sides, place the measuring tape on top of your shoulder and loop it under your armpit. Make sure the tape is sitting comfortably and not too tightly.  

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HOW TO MEASURE YOUR HEIGHT

  1. Remove all shoes and socks and stand with your feet flat and your heels touching a wall.
  2. Place a box, book or other flat object on top of your head, and have someone mark a location on the wall underneath the object.
  3. Step away from the wall and, with a tape measure, record the height from the floor to the marked point on the wall.

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HOW TO MEASURE YOUR INSEAM

  1. Stand with your back against the wall and while standing tall, have another person measure from the top inseam point to the heel. If you regularly wear heels, or you plan to with this outfit, it’s helpful to either wear heels when measuring or add half an inch to 1 inch to the recorded measurement.
  2. If you don’t have someone with you, try measuring the inseam of an existing pair of pants, ideally a pair you love the fit of. Fold the article of clothing in half (the long way) and measure in inches from the crotch seam or bottom of the zipper to the bottom of the leg.
  3. If you are buying material that can slightly shrink if machine washed, add about ½ an inch to the measurements.

WHEN BUYING A TOP MEASURE YOUR…

  • Bust
  • Natural waist

WHEN BUYING PANTS MEASURE YOUR…

  • Natural waist
  • Hips
  • Inseam

WHEN BUYING A DRESS MEASURE YOUR….

  • Bust
  • Natural waist
  • Hips

HOW TO MEASURE DRESS LENGTH

Dresses come in all kinds of lengths, however, from mini dresses and above knee dresses to below the knee, mid-calf, ballerina, ankle and floor length dresses. If you were measuring a mini dress that has sleeves you would start with the shoulder near the side of your neck and measure to mid-thigh. If you were measuring a halter-top dress you would start at the chest and measure down to mid-thigh. As a guide…

  • Mini – measure to mid-thigh
  • Above the knee – measure to a few inches above the knee
  • Knee – measure to the knee, grazing the top of the knee
  • Below knee – measure to a couple of inches below the knee
  • Mid-calf – measure to the middle of your calf
  • Below mid-calf – measure to a few inches below your calf
  • Ballerina – measure to a couple of inches above your ankle
  • Ankle – measure to your ankle
  • Floor length – measure to your toes

READING SIZE CHARTS

Clothing charts are prolific in e-commerce stores, however they can often be confusing to decipher. Typically they will be set up in a table, with one axis laying out the sizes, the other displaying inches or centimetres. Look at the row or column that best corresponds with your measurements to identify the size you should order.

Keep in mind that size charts tend to vary from store to store and that even with your measurements in hand, you may be surprised by the wide array of sizes. As a general guide you should:

  • Always choose the larger size if your measurements come between two sizes.
  • Avoid dress size generators that claim to be able to tell you your accurate size. They can’t.
  • Pay attention to the origin of the size chart. American, European, Asian, Australian sizes can vary.

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CONVERTING SIZE CHARTS

Now you should be able to see your regular clothing size for Australian fit clothing, so you can use the below chart to compare that with sizes from other countries.

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MEASURING WELL FOR GREAT FITTING CLOTHES

Methods for determining measurements are not necessarily standardised, but most sellers utilise the measurement styles of waist, hip, bust and inseam. Even if they do vary, having your measurements handy to you when ordering will put you in significantly greater stead for online shopping, as well as when creating custom perfection.

 

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