Choosing plus size shapewear that really fits you requires more than simply following your dress size. For a start, commercial dress sizes are a moveable feast these days! Sizing varies wildly between high street stores and this inconsistency means you probably own clothing that spans four sizes, depending on the brand. When it comes to shapewear it’s really important you find the right fit, as it has to be comfortable all day long. So when measuring yourself, it’s vital that you start from scratch and don’t work from your preconceived notions of size.
Ideally use a dressmakers tape measure. If you don’t have a tailor’s tape, use a piece of string and then measure it. When measuring your bust, wear a well-fitting, non-padded bra. Measure waist and hips directly on the skin rather than through clothes and always while standing. To ensure that the tape sits in a straight line, it’s helpful to have an extra pair of hands. So ask a good friend or your partner to help you out with this.
For corsets, corselettes and bodysuits that fit around the bust, you will need to be sure of your bra size. Even if you’re certain that you know your size, it’s always worth measuring yourself again. Bodies change and a regular check on your measurements will help you to make the right purchasing choices when it comes to shapewear.
So, measure directly under your breasts to the nearest whole inch. If this measurement is an even number, add four and if it’s an odd number, add 5. To calculate your cup size, measure gently around the biggest part of your bust, keeping the tape horizontal. When the first measurement is subtracted from the second, the difference is your cup size: 3” = C, 4″ = D etc…
As an added complication, we know many of you will be asymmetrical in the boob department. If this is you, then always measure to the largest breast. For more information, consult our blog How to fit a bra if you have different sized breasts.
Yes, we know we told you that high street dress sizes are unreliable! However, when many shapewear pieces, such as corsets and control briefs, are sold on the basis of dress size then you will inevitably need to use dress size as a reference. As we know, dress sizes vary across high street stores, with up to 2 inches difference in some cases. For shapewear, this isn’t such a big deal. Control items are, of course, constructed from stretch fabrics. In this way, many garments that use dress size as a guide cover several sizes in one piece.
If your size hovers in between two garments then, what do you do? Always consult a size guide if there is one available. If not, go for the dress size that your waist measurement is in line with. So if you’re choosing between shaping shorts that are 14-16 or 18-20 and you tend to hover between a standard size 16-18, measure your waist only and the dress size that this is most in line with is the choice for you.
When it comes to waist measurement, then, it’s important to get it right. Especially if your size could be in a grey area. The correct process of measurement will always mean you get an accurate number. For your waist, bend slightly to one side and mark the crease or indentation. This is your natural waist. Straighten up and measure snugly around this point. Always round off to the nearest whole inch. For your hips, wrap the tape measure around the fullest part of your torso just below your waist and just above your thighs. Again round up to the nearest whole inch.
As with shoe sizes, there are variations in standard sizing depending on which country you call home. Where the UK and US use inch measurements to determine both bra and dress size, the EU, Australia and New Zealand use metric measurements. Make sure you’re not reading sizes designed for a different region!
Shapewear works best when it’s a tight fit. However, when it’s too tight it’s not only uncomfortable but can displace the weight elsewhere, causing unsightly bulges. So measuring yourself is a key part of choosing the right item. For extra security in your decisions, you can consult our size guides, and remember certain garments can be returned, so check the returns policy for added peace of mind.