We can all probably agree that, when clothes shopping, sizing is the trickiest thing to get right. From jeans to bras and everything in between, sizing can be a minefield. There is often inconsistency between brands or manufacturers, and it’s hard to know which ranges are best suited to your body shape. For example, which sizes are included in plus size shapewear? How do you find the right size for you, and how can you navigate different size scales?
What is plus size?
In the fashion industry, plus size is considered to be a UK dress size 18 and upwards. In reality, there’s an argument as to whether plus size as a concept is still needed. With brands and stores increasingly offering a broader range of dress sizes, there’s less need to specify garments specifically as plus size. However, on the other hand, plus size is a useful indicator to narrow down a search for the right garment.
How plus size shapewear is sized
When it comes to shapewear then, plus sizes are simply a continuation of sizing. There is little difference in the cut of the garment within different size brackets, since the purpose of shapewear is to smooth a silhouette. There is a considerable number of different sizing structures used by manufacturers, and these can change between garment styles as well as brands
UK dress sizes
When shapewear is sized in line with UK dress sizes, there is often a range covered by each garment. Basic control briefs may be sized individually, similarly to non-compression knickers. However, when a garment is designed to offer support or compression to more than one area of your body, it makes sense to size within a range.
Especially in the UK, seeing a size in numbers can cause confusion. Which part of the body does the number refer to? What is the equivalent dress size? There are a few basic rules here. If a garment is sized numerically and encompasses your bust, the size is based on the under bust measurement. You’ll commonly find this in garments such as corsets.
Incredibly common in shapewear sizing, a scale based on XL, XXL, 3X, 4X etc is familiar. The frustration here is that there’s little standardisation to this scale of sizing. XXL may refer to size 24 in one brand, but to size 18 in another. Not very helpful when you’re shopping around online! This is why it’s worth you knowing where you stand size wise.
Sizing yourself right
As the most important piece of the plus size shapewear sizing puzzle, you need to know yourself. By accurately measuring your vital stats, consulting size guides and being clued up about what different sizes mean, you’ll make the most accurate online shopping decisions.
When you measure yourself, use something flexible that follows the line of your body. Ideally this would be a dressmaker’s tape. Or if you don’t have one of these, use a piece of string which you can then measure with a ruler. To find the right point on your waist, bend to the side and find the prominent indent. For under bust measurements, make sure that the tape (or string!) follows a straight line around your chest under your breasts. Your hips should be measured at the fullest part under your navel.
Brand size guides are the key to unlocking the right size for you. They will tend to show a UK dress size equivalent. However, to make sure that you choose the correct plus size shapewear, make sure you back this up your sizing decision by checking the waist measurement too. This is especially important when you tend to fall in between two dress sizes.
What about garments that are billed as ‘one-size’? There surely can’t be any fabric in this world that covers EVERY size? Correct. If a shapewear garment is billed as ‘one-size’, it will refer to a range, often covering around 4 dresses sizes. For many plus size ranges, this is likely to mean around size 18-24. A garment can achieve this if it is cut and designed to flow rather than compress. This brings us onto compression. When you choose a particularly firm compression garment, it’s worth rounding up your size or measurements to make sure that you can get the garment on.
At Elle Courbee we understand the frustrations that garment sizing can cause. So we’ll always make the effort to provide as much guidance from manufacturers and users as we can to ease the process.
A little bio info about Becky the author and copywriter