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It’s helpful to know your measurements and body type when shopping for clothes, ordering clothes online, or getting an outfit tailored.

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How to Take Your Body Measurements

To determine your body measurements, you'll need a flexible measuring tape. If you don't have a flexible measuring tape, you can use a piece of string and a tape measure or yardstick.

  1. How to measure your bust or chest: Measure your bust/chest by bringing the tape all the way around your back at the fullest part of your bust/chest. The tape should be parallel to the floor. If you have a friend available to help you, lift your arms up while they take your measurements.
  2. How to measure your waist: Your natural waist isn't necessarily where your pants hit: It's the narrowest part of your midsection, above your belly button and below your rib cage. To take your waist measurements, wrap the tape around this part of your torso, keeping the tape parallel to the floor.
  3. How to measure your hips: To take your hip measurements, wrap the measuring tape around the widest part of your hips (this usually does not correspond to the top of the hip bone), keeping the tape even and parallel to the floor.
  4. How to measure your shoulders: To take your shoulder measurements, ask a friend for help. Stand up straight and relax your shoulders. Have your friend stand behind you and measure across your shoulders between the points directly above your armpits.
  5. How to measure your inseam: The inseam is the length between the uppermost part of the inner thigh to the bottom of the ankle. This measurement has more to do with your pants than your body, so grab a favorite pair of pants and measure from the crotch to the hem.

How to Determine Your Body Shape: 5 Common Body Types

Describing your body as a shape—as imperfect a metaphor as that may be—can help you learn how to dress for your body type. Some broad categories for describing different body shapes include:

  1. Hourglass shape: If you have an hourglass body shape, you have a defined waist and roughly equal bust and hip measurements.
  2. Inverted triangle shape: If you have an inverted triangle body shape, you have broad shoulders and an upper body that is wider than your lower body.
  3. Apple shape: If you have an apple body shape, your bust and/or waistline are wider than your hips and lower half.
  4. Pear shape: If you have a pear body shape, your hips are the widest part of your body.
  5. Rectangle shape: If you have a rectangle body shape, your bust and/or waist are about the same width as your hips.
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