How to Measure for a Dress: Our Rules for a Flawless Fit

A dress is without a doubt our favorite one-and-done outfit. Simply add shoes and jewelry, and voilà—you have a pulled-together look in a flash. We have helpful tips for how to measure for a dress to ensure an impeccable fit. What’s the secret to finding the perfect dress? It’s all in the fit. 

Dresses drape over the areas of your body that have the most shape—including the bust, waist and hips. As a result, searching for a properly fitting dress can pose a bit of a challenge. Although dress sizes differ across brands, knowing your measurements can make finding the correct dress size a less daunting task. Have we piqued your interest?

How to Measure for a Dress: All the Tools You’ll Need

Ever wish you could wave a magic wand and a perfectly fitting dress would appear? Magicians and professional dressmakers aside, if you’re wondering how to measure for a dress yourself, we’ve got you covered. 

To record measurements, you’ll need a few tools in tow. A soft measuring tape is key for accurate results. Choose from the flexible variety, not the retractable metal kind that remains stiff and straight. To get precise measurements, we suggest measuring with the undergarments you plan to wear with the dress. Now, all you need is a pen and paper (or a phone) to record your measurements. We recommend that you phone a friend to help, but if you’re flying solo, that’s okay, too.

To start, stand straight in front of a full-length mirror in a relaxed position. Breathe normally and avoid sucking in to prevent an uncomfortable fitting dress. Now, you’re ready to take individual measurements to find the best size to order or pattern to make. 

How to Measure for Each Part of a Dress

There’s an exquisite dress for every body type in a variety of silhouettes. For a flawless fit, we’ve compiled several basic tips for how to measure each part of a dress. A dress has many parts, from the neckline and sleeves to the hem and waist. We’ve narrowed down the measurements you’ll need to take to find your correct size. Honing in on the preferred length, and gathering accurate bust and waist measurements are key to measuring for a dress.

Measure: Dress Length

The first step in how to measure for a dress is determining the correct length. Dresses come in all kinds of lengths—shorter mini dresses to floor-grazing maxi dresses. Shorter length or mini dresses will hit at the upper to mid thigh. Midi dresses should fall below the knee or at the calf. Floor-length dresses or maxis should kiss the tops of your toes.

While most dress measurements can be done on your own, this is where having a buddy to help will come in handy. It’s tricky to get an accurate measurement without a helping hand. Begin with the measuring tape at the center of your collarbone. Measure down to where the hem will fall.

Stylist Tip: Make sure you’re wearing the shoes you plan to wear with the dress to ensure an accurate length. 

Measure: Bust

Ask yourself—strapless, backless or braless? Planning to rock a stunning backless number for an anniversary dinner? Considering a ditsy floral sundress with spaghetti straps when pondering what to wear as a spring wedding guest? No matter the style of dress, put on the bra you plan to wear with it. Bra or no bra, opt for tight-fitting clothing to minimize any unwanted bulk that can skew the results. 

A common misconception is that your bust measurement is the same as your bra size. In fact, it’s a much simpler number when wondering how to measure for a dress. Wrap the tape measure around your back, under your armpits and across the fullest part of your bust. Keep the tape parallel to the floor and check for any warping or drooping of the measuring tape. You’ll want it snug against your body—not too tight, but not too loose. 

Measure: Waist and Hip

Let’s talk about two body parts essential to dancing along to any Shakira song. The waist and hips are often confused for one another when surveying how to take measurements for a dress. The waist is the narrowest part of the body in the torso area. It’s typically found between the bottom of the rib cage and above the belly button. In a standing position, bend to one side to form a crease—that’s your natural waist. Straighten your body and wrap the tape around the total circumference of this area. 

When deciding how to measure for a dress, you’ll also need to take your hip measurements into account. You know the place where you pop your hands when you’re feeling confident and powerful? We like to call it the “power pose.” The area you’re looking to measure is likely below it. Wrap the tape around the widest part of your hips, commonly found across the center of your backside. Measure around, keeping your feet and ankles together. From a form-fitting midi to a high-low wrap to a flowy maxi, you’re one step further to finding your perfect dress.

Stylist Tip: Plan a little self-love activity once you’re done with your measurements. We know it can be an overwhelming process. Remember, your body is more than just a list of numbers. You only get one, and it’s worth celebrating.  

How to Measure for a Dress to Identify Your Correct Size

The hard work of figuring out how to measure for a dress is done. Now, it’s time to decide your size. Deciphering your measurements to select your correct dress size is simple, thanks to readily available size guides. While all brands vary in sizing, most offer a size chart. Keep in mind that some dresses may run bigger or smaller than your typical size, so keep your measurements handy to check against a particular size guide. Understanding your measurements makes it easy to dress for your body shape

Stylist Tip: Always choose the bigger size if your measurements fall in between two sizes. A tailor can easily make alterations where needed. 

Now that you know how to take measurements for a dress, your best-fitting frock is just waiting to be found. Take your style quiz and schedule a Fix. Shipping and returns are always free. Ask your stylist to send an all-dress Fix in a variety of styles and silhouettes. Relax and receive five items chosen just for you. Give each style a whirl in the comfort of your own home. You will be the star of the show at your living room fashion show and at your next soiree.

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