Firstly, come prepared with your measurements in hand. The most commonly used measurements are bust, waist, and hips. If you’re looking to purchase a swimsuit, your bra size might also be needed.
The clothing size chart will typically be set up in a table. One axis will lay out the sizes, and the other will be the measurements in either inches or centimeters. Look at row or column that best corresponds with your measurements and you’ll be able to identify your accurate size.
Commonly Used Words
Clothing size charts can also be broken down by clothing items, styles and different cuts. Understanding the terminology used to describe sizes and fits will help you choose the best fitting apparel.
Regular: For women, this typically refers to women 5’4”-5’7 ½” tall, with hips slightly larger than bust and in sizes that range from 00 to 14 or 16 for numeric sizing and from Small to Extra Large. For men, this typically refers to those items that fit a height of 5’8”-6’ ½” tall and fall into a size range from Small to Extra Large.
Size Terms Specific to Women
Petite: This is not only for shorter women, but for women who are smaller in general. The clothing is proportioned for a smaller frame, with shoulder widths and sleeve lengths scaled down. Women between 4’11-5’3 ½” should look for petite-sized clothing. Sizes are often designated with a P at the end, such as 4P (size 4 petite).
Short: Short sizes for women usually indicate a shorter length, without having overall smaller proportions. They are often indicated by an S after the letter size.
Tall: This is for taller women between 5’8”-6’ ½” and men 6’1” and taller. Torso and sleeve lengths tend to be longer for tops; inseams and trouser lengths are longer for bottoms.
Plus size: This is for women sized 12-24, and XL-4XL (instead of small, medium, and large). Numerical sizes are also often designated with a W at the end, as in 12W-24W. Apparel is generally roomier throughout and fits a curvier frame better.
Juniors: This term is used for younger women and clothing items are marked by odd-numbered sizes, usually from 1-13. Junior apparel is proportioned smaller throughout and is usually made for more slender, less curvy builds. Junior clothing lines often feature trendier designs catered towards the teen market.
Misses or Missy: Primarily a term used for women, it concentrates on the fashion interests of females older than the teen marketplace. Some lines refer to all their non-plus size women’s clothing as Misses, while others use it to indicate a younger adult woman. Most misses clothing is proportioned more generously in the bust and hips than junior items. Sizes are usually marked by even numbers, 0-16.
Women’s: In some lines Women’s is synonymous with Misses and simply indicates the cuts are intended for adult females. However, in many clothing brands the designation Women’s indicates a fuller cut, often with larger sizes, or to indicate their Plus sized clothing.
Relaxed: relaxed fit clothing, also known as oversized or boyfriend-style clothing for women, is clothing that hangs more loosely from the body. They tend to be deliberately slightly oversized and are typically used in relation to tops, usually button-up shirts, or trousers. Men’s jeans often come in relaxed fit and have a fuller cut through the hips and legs.
Slim: Slim-fit clothing is meant for a closer fit to the body and is often used to describe men’s dress shirts. Slimmer and more petite men should look out for this descriptor as the shirts offered will probably be a better fit.
Rise: The term rise, usually used as “low-rise,” “high-rise” or “mid-rise” is used to describe the distance from the waist to the crotch on pants. Low rise pants sit low on the hips while high rise sit at or even above the natural waist.
Some brands measure rise by going from center back of the waist, down, through the crotch, then up to the front center of the waist, so make sure you look for their measurement method if you are looking for a specific rise.
Chest or Bust
This measurement is used for tops and dresses.
Women: Place one end of the tape measure at the fullest part of your bust and wrap it around your body to get the measurement, keeping the tape parallel to the floor.
This measurement is used for tops, dresses, and bottoms.
Most clothing lines use the measurement of the “natural waist” for their size guides. To measure your natural waist, you want to find the narrowest part of your waist, located above your belly button and below your rib cage.
Note some brands use a “low” waist measurement. For this, you would measure at the point where your trousers would normally ride.
This measurement is used for bottoms and sometimes for dresses.
Stand with your hips together and measure the fullest part of your hips. Be sure to go over your buttocks as well. It might be challenging to keep the tape consistently level when you do it alone; it is recommended that you have a friend assist you with this or that you do it in front of a mirror.
This measurement is used for trousers and jeans.
The inseam is the distance from the uppermost part of your thigh to your ankle. It is easiest to measure the inseam based on a well-fitting pair of pants. Measure from the crotch to the cuff on the inside seam of the leg. The number of inches, to the nearest ½”, is the inseam length. It’s best to measure your inseam with a pair of shoes on so that you can ensure the hem hits at the right point on your shoe.
For women, keep in mind that the accurate inseam measurement depends on whether you’re wearing heels or flats. The hem should hit at the middle of the heel shaft or should hit just slightly above the flat shoe. It would be best for women to take two measurements for inseams — one for trousers you’d wear with heels, and one for trousers you’d wear with flats.
Don’t have a measuring tape handy? https://www.sizecharter.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/tape-measure.pdf