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How To Take Your Measurements

measurement chart at vintagetextile

Measurements should be taken over your customary undergarments. Pull the measuring tape snug, but not too tight, always around the fullest part of each body area and keep the tape parallel to the floor.

Bust—take this measurement over the fullest part of the bust and across the widest part of the back.

Waist—To locate your waistline, tie a narrow string around the waist and let it settle into the natural waistline as you bend. Take the measurement along the stringline.

Hips—Take the measurement around the fullest part, which is usually 7" to 9" below the waist.

Figure Variations

The total measurement around the body does not describe how the fullness is distributed. For example, a bust measurement of 36" could mean you are flat chested with a large rib cage, or conversely, you have a full bust and a small rib cage.If your fullness is not evenly distributed, ask me for more specific measurements.

If you do weight lifting ask me for more specific measurements regarding the upper torso. Early garments are not cut to accommodate a muscular figure. Areas to check are the upper arm girth, across the upper back (the yoke) and the neck circumference.

If you have noticed any fitting problems when trying on modern clothes, ask me for more specific measurements. For example, you may want the measurement from neck to waist.


The measurements I give are the actual measurements of the garment. They do not include the amount of ease you need to breathe and move in a comfortable manner. I give a garment waist measurement of 28", the garment would comfortably fit someone with a waist measurement of 26"-27".

The amount of ease needed is a matter of personal preference, so take a minute to think whether you like a tight or loose fit.

The general guidelines are:

1 1/2" to 4" bust ease
1" waist ease
2" hip ease


It is best to take your actual measurements because modern size numbers can be ambiguous. A Donna Karan size 8 is not necessarily the same as an 8 by some other designer.

Modern size numbers do not correspond to antique garments because the cut is different. I can say that the garment is an approximate 8, but you have to keep in mind that the gown was cut for a woman who wore corsets and didn't lift weights.

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