When you buy shapewear, underwear, or any garment for that matter, size DOES matter. The tricky thing is that sizes aren’t as simple as they claim to be. There are different sizing systems depending on where you are in the world, and even fluctuations between brands. Some use dress sizes and others go by a Medium / Large / X Large principle. Even bras aren’t as straightforward as you might expect. So when you’re shopping for shapewear and bras, we look at the best ways to get the right measurement from your body and the right size from the size guide.
When is a size 14 not a size 14? Most of the time actually, since there is barely any discernible consistency between high street stores in their sizing. Most women have a myriad of dress sizes in their head, knowing that they are a 16 in one brand and 18 in another, and so on and so on. So, what about shapewear? In a way, these types of garments are less likely to comply with UK dress sizes. This is because the stretch and compression of the fabric requires each piece to cover a couple of standard dress sizes.
In Between Sizes
Your dress size is a good starting point for finding the right fit of shapewear for you. But we’ve already said that most women think of themselves as being a couple of sizes. Add to this the fact that a lot of us fluctuate in size and shape depending on the time of the month, dress size really is just a ball park. This is why you should measure before you buy. If your measurements are hovering in between two sizes of shapewear garment, then go by your waist first.
Since measurements are so important for finding the right size, then, it’s pretty crucial to get this bit right! If you have a flat dressmaker’s tape this is the best way to get an accurate measurement. Hold the tape flat against your skin. Your waist point is where you see an indent when you bend to the side. Your hips measurement should be the widest part of your hips. If you don’t have a flexible tape, use a piece of string and then measure it with a flat ruler.
Some size guides use bust size but don’t specify where on the bust you’re supposed to take a measurement. This can be confusing as it is, again, inconsistent. When a measurement is used in place of a size, as we sometimes see in corsets, this refers to your underbust measurement. Most size guides will specify an underbust and a bust measurement. This refers to the fullest part of your breasts.
While historically women were encouraged to add 3 or 4 inches to their underbust measurement to arrive at their bra size, this is often not required now. This is because bras are now made with more responsive stretch fabrics which don’t require the extra length. For this reason, it’s worth re-measuring your bra size before you shop for your next bra. This is especially so for shapewear bras that cover a wider range of bra sizes in each garment.
When you are working out which size shapewear to buy, it’s worth factoring in the level of compression in the fabric. It’s really important not to size down when you’re choosing, for example, shaping shorts. Especially when the fabric is firm compression, doing this can simply make it hard to get the item on. Alternatively, it can change your shape in a way that you don’t want, with too many lumps and bumps.
If we could only wave a magic wand, we’d love to create a world where dress sizing is consistent and hassle free. Failing that, we think that size guides are the key to finding great fitting shapewear. And then when you find the garment that works for you, stick with it!
A little bio info about Becky the author and copywriter