Don't Fear the Measuring Tape

Posted by Jen Anderson on

Don't Fear the Measuring Tape

We plus size women buy most of our clothing online. This gives us countless options, but it also complicates the whole process. Women's clothing sizes are ridiculously inconsistent, so you need to know your measurements if you don't want to have to exchange or return half the things you order. Yet most plus size women don't know their measurements because they don't want to. It's too emotionally fraught.

woman wearing a taupe animal print tank

Numbers are Just Numbers

It took me a long time to realize that, so it's OK if you're not there yet. I blame society. That sounds glib, but this is totally society's fault. No one person decided that only certain body sizes and shapes are acceptable and yet it's "common knowledge" that this is so. (Remember when it was common knowledge that you should treat burns with butter? Common knowledge is not very smart.)

Our measurements and clothing sizes are a source of shame. We see those numbers and feel worthless. Considering how society treats plus size women, you may even think that there's some truth behind those bad feelings. But a few years ago, one of my cousins injured her knee and went from size 0 to size 4 and she was devastated. She went from "too small to easily find clothes in stores" to "small enough to find clothes in her size everywhere". Ridiculous, right? Well, it's silly at every size.

Having 50" hips only means that your hips are 50 inches around. It doesn't make you less of a person than someone with 40" hips. If a friend asked you to help measure her, you wouldn't attach any judgment to those numbers. Treat yourself the same way.

woman wearing a black maxi tank dress

Let's Do This

You'll need is a measuring tape and a paper and pencil to record your measurements. If you don't have one handy, a piece of yarn or string will do - just measure it against a ruler or yardstick. (If you have a cat, check under the couch and in the heating vents. As far as your pet is concerned, everything's a cat toy.) A plastic measuring tape will be more accurate than a fabric one because the fabric stretches over time,

This is a lot easier if you have a friend or spouse to help you. But it's not required. You can do it yourself if you have a full-length mirror - just remember to turn to the side to make sure the tape is parallel to the floor. 

Waist - Let's start with this one because it's easiest. Wrap the measuring tape around your waist and come on, baby do the twist. That twisting motion moves the measuring tape to your natural waist.

Bust - Wiggle the measuring tape up so that the back is a few inches above your bra band. You want to measure the largest part of your bust and since you want the measuring tape to be parallel to the floor, wiggle it around until it is.

woman wearing a black and gold chain print top

Hips - You need to measure the biggest part of your hips - the hard part is figuring out where that is. Every booty is unique, so you may need to measure several spots to find the biggest one.

Length Matters

If you're tall, short, long waisted, or short waisted you may not be comfortable in standard length clothing. That includes tops as well as pants and skirts. The easiest way to figure out your ideal lengths is to measure clothing you already own and love. Lay shirts and dresses flat, and measure the center back from the neckline to the hem. For pants, lay them flat and measure the inseam (crotch to hem). You may want to measure several dresses and skirts so you know exactly how long a 44" long dress will be on you. 

Keep it Safe

Don't rely on being able to find that piece of paper - especially if you put it someplace "safe". I keep my measurements in a note on my phone so I can easily find them when I'm looking at a size chart online - which you should always do before ordering. 

Check out our other plus size shopping tips.

1 Comment

Thanks for a very helpful blog.

—Ann wolff,

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