How to Measure Clothing and Find Your Size
Most of my friends know that I LOVE vintage and retro style clothing, as a result they tend to give me their oldies but goodies regardless of what size they are size. Unlike most people I don’t have a 1 year rule—if you haven’t worn it in 1 year get rid of it. Julie Ann’s rule is more like: if you haven’t worn it in 5 years, MAYBE get rid of it. You never know when you might need that 1980’s suede bolero jacket with the pom pom trim or that neon green 1970’s floor length prom dress with the giant ruffles, etc… you get the idea. So as you can imagine, I’ve amassed quite a wardrobe.
Recently I decided to sort through the fall/winter bulk of it and this past week I spent some time weeding through my closet. I’m keeping the things I’ve worn this year and question mark the things I haven’t worn in the past 5 years. If you know me, you know this is a giant step—I’m very sentimental. I love my clothes and have a story behind each piece.
The main factor in whether I keep something or not is fit. I try it on and ask myself “how well does it fit?” Is it too big in the waist? Too small in the bust? I find that the answer for most of my items that I haven’t worn in 5 years, honestly, is that they don’t fit. If they did, I probably would have worn them. If you decide to go through YOUR closet, I suggest trying everything on you’re unsure about and have a fashion show for a truthful friend. This is a fun way to get a second opinion. (To help me, I enlisted the help of my husband Andrew.)
Be sure to tell them why you haven’t worn it and ask what they think about how it fits. Most of the time the other person will agree with your premature answer, but if it’s an item really worth saving, I say save it! I can’t stress how important fit is. If you have an article of clothing that fits you perfect, the more likely you are to wear it, and wear it with confidence. Clothes that fit well make you look good, and that makes you feel good, and feeling good gives you confidence. And we all know that confidence makes you lookFABULOUS! If the garment fits great, but has other problems, you can often fix them without too much trouble. If it is an ugly color— dye it! If you don’t like the buttons—change them! Or if the fit is a little off, you can often take it to a good tailor and have it inexpensively altered to fit you.
Changing buttons can change the whole look of a retro or vintage garment, so don’t get rid of it if you don’t like them.
The great news is that there’s a short-cut to the whole binging and purging of your wardrobe – know your true measurements. I say “true” measurements because sizes like SMALL, MEDIUM and LARGE are very general and can only be used to narrow down what label size you should actually buy. Being aware of your measurements makes shopping online a lot easier too because good online retailers will have size charts for the garments.
How do I find out my measurements you might ask? Well the easiest thing to do is take your most comfortable dress, that you are confident in and lay it down on a flat surface. Use a measuring tape or yardstick and carefully measure all the areas without stretching the fabric. Measure shoulder seam to shoulder seam, bust can be measured armpit to armpit and doubled, the waist is usually about 6-8 inches below the armpit at the smallest point, it is also doubled and the hips are about 5-8 inches below the waist at the largest point and then doubled. Does the fabric of this dress stretch? Take that into consideration too. Put on this wonderful dress. When you wear it, is it stretched to the maximum and pulling at seams? If so add an inch to that area. Remember to take note of all your measurements and keep that for future reference. Also be aware that if your weight fluctuates your measurements are going to change. At minimum, know your bust, waist, and hip size.
When taking sizing measurements for your retro or vintage clothes, be sure to measure the bust and other areas with the garment lying flat, UNstretched.
When shopping online you can match your measurements up with the listed size charts, and find out ahead of time if it will fit you. Most online retailers measure this way, so that should help when shopping online. After all you can’t try on the items online! For this reason you should be weary of buying from stores that do not list measurements—you are taking an awful gamble.
Regardless of what size you normally wear, different styles from even the same brands can vary widely. Be honest about your sizes when you look at the size charts. Take your largest measurement and match it with the size listed for the garment. That’s the size you should get. If it is too big in one area, you can always have it taken in. It’s usually much harder to have a garment let out, simply because you can’t add fabric where there isn’t any. Also take into account the fabric. Does it stretch? If it does you have more leeway on fit (so you had an extra piece of cheesecake, so what? Nom nom away, your dress will still fit!)
Web stores will often have sizing charts listed with the clothes somewhere on the website. This is what the chart on the Cats Like Us website looks like.
Other reasons you should know your size: what if you’re shopping someplace that doesn’t have a fitting room like a flea market or estate sale? If you know your measurements just bring a measuring tape, and measure the garment you like, that saves the hassle of trying it on. In this case I would suggest knowing shoulder measurements as well as length. Don’t have a measuring tape? Here’s a trick I learned and somehow it works: Take the waist of the item you want and hold it up in front of you then wrap the waist around your neck. Do the ends match up? If so, it will fit your waist, if not than it probably won’t fit you!
Valentine’s Day is coming up and wouldn’t you love to get a fabulous new dress from your significant other? Don’t say, “I wear a Small.” SMALL will vary by brand, fabric, and style. Give that thoughtful fella your measurements so they know what size to buy. (And it wouldn’t hurt to have them read this article too.) If you want to get creative, give them a sexy picture of yourself with your measurements drawn on the picture where they are. I guarantee they’ll remember your measurements better and who knows you might end up with more than just a dress!!
Hubba hubba and Happy Valentine’s Day!
Hugs, Julie Ann