Find Your Fit: How to Take Body Measurements for Online Shopping

Find Your Fit: How to Take Body Measurements for Online Shopping

If you've ever ordered what you thought was your size only to have your clothes be too big or small, you may have made one mistake — not taking your measurements. We think we know what sizes fit us best, but every store has unique size standards. Taking body measurements is the only way to know for sure what size you are when shopping online.

So how is it done? And what parts of your body do you need to measure? Below, we've outlined everything you need to know about taking measurements to find your perfect fit!

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What Do You Need to Take Your Measurements?

Before you measure your body to fit into clothes, gather what you need to take your measurements. Here's what you'll need:

  • A flexible measuring tape: Use a flexible measuring tape to take your measurements. This tool makes it easy to take accurate measurements around your body. It's also a fairly inexpensive item that you'll use a lot, and you may already have one in a sewing kit. If you can, avoid using a fabric measuring tape. Those tend to stretch over time, meaning you won't get an accurate number. If you must use a cloth tape, make sure it's a relatively new one or double-check it with a ruler.
  • Paper and pen: You'll need a way to write down your measurements. You may even keep them in a note on your phone or computer to reference as you're shopping online. No matter how you note your measurements, add the date so you know which numbers are the most recent.
  • Someone to help: The easiest way to get accurate measurements is to have someone help you. They can wrap the tape around you and read it for the right measurements. If you don't have a helper, it's still possible to take your own measurements.
  • A mirror: If you don't have someone to measure you, you'll need a mirror. You can then see that you're measuring the right parts of your body and that the measuring tape is flat and snug all around you.
  • Your usual undergarments: Wear what you normally wear when you take your measurements. A padded support bra adds to your bust measurement, for instance, so you'll want that addition included if you'll wear it with the garment you order.
  • Fitted clothes: If you don't want to take measurements against your body, make sure you wear fitted clothes. Wear thin fabrics instead of bulky items to hold the measuring tape as close to your skin as possible.
  • The right posture: As someone measures you, stand upright and relax your body. Put your feet together and breathe normally. If you're measuring yourself, it may be difficult to maintain this posture, but that's where a mirror comes in handy.

Why Is It Important to Take Body Measurements Before Shopping?

Why Is It Important to Take Body Measurements Before Shopping?

Taking body measurements is a simple process with a big payoff. You should do this before shopping because:

  • You can't try on clothes online: Shopping in a store lets you find your perfect fit in person. But when you shop online, you don't have that convenience. Taking your body measurements is the only way to get an accurate fit other than ordering multiple sizes and returning what doesn't work.
  • You'll understand how the clothes will fit: Having your body measurements on hand lets you conceptualize how a clothing item will fit. Everyone's body is unique, and that means clothing may fit differently on you than standard sizes intend. Knowing your measurements will help you determine if a garment will be short or long on your specific size and shape.
  • You'll realize that every store is different: Sizes aren't universal. Clothes from certain stores may fit tighter while others have a looser fit, even in the same size. You risk not getting an accurate fit if you simply buy the same size from every clothing store you shop with.
  • You won't have to hassle with returns: If you don't order the right clothing size online, you'll have to go through the process of making returns. Even if a store has a simple and free return process, you'll still have to wait for the new piece in the right size after returning the wrong one.
  • You'll save money: You won't have to buy multiple sizes to see what will fit or pay return shipping with stores that charge that fee. Because you'll use your measurements for online shopping, you'll order the right thing the first time around.
  • You'll need little to no alterations: When you order the right size, you won't have to get clothes like dresses altered. Or, at the very least, you'll only need minor alterations, which again saves you money.
  • You want to look stylish: Clothes that fit poorly won't make you look or feel your best. The right fit gives you a boost to your style and confidence, making your body measurements essential to your overall look.

Taking Measurements to Find Your Perfect Fit

Now that you know what you need and why you should take your measurements, it's time to start measuring. What you need to measure will vary based on the clothing you want and where you're buying from. Most shops have a size chart online. There, you'll find what measurements correspond to what sizes. You may even find tips or diagrams to help you measure. In general, here's how you should take body measurements.


Halter tops, dresses, button-ups with high necklines and necklaces are easier to buy when you have this measurement. Measure at the base of your neck, just above your collarbone, to get this number. A mirror will be particularly useful if you need this measurement since you can't bend over to see the results. Use these simple steps to find your neck measurement:

  1. Grab the tape between the zero mark and the middle.
  2. Place the tape at the back of your neck.
  3. Bring the zero end around one side of your neck and the opposite half around the other side.
  4. Meet the beginning of the tape with the other half.
  5. Jot down your measurement and label it as your neck.



Bust measurements are useful for buying bras, dresses and tops. Measure your bust at the fullest part, including your bra. This is a useful measurement to have on hand, and you can get it by following these steps:

  1. Hold the beginning of the tape and bring the rest behind your back.
  2. Bring the end of the tape toward your front.
  3. Situate the tape around the fullest point of your bust.
  4. Make sure the tape is parallel to the floor, checking the back in the mirror.
  5. Pull the tape so it fits snug but not too tight.
  6. Note the measurement and label it as your bust.

If you have assistance for this measurement, have your helper wrap the tape around your bust with your arms in the air. Put your arms straight down to your sides when they measure you to get a more accurate result.


Determine the length of your arms to help you buy long sleeve tops and dresses. Your arm length goes from the tip of your shoulder, where your arm begins, down to your wrist. Measure past your wrist or above it, based on where you want your sleeves to fall. Be sure to mark what spot you measure to so you know in the future how you got that number. Regardless of how far down you measure, follow these steps to discover your sleeve measurement:

  1. Slightly bend your arm at the elbow, no more than 90 degrees.
  2. Put the start of your measuring tape at the tip of your shoulder.
  3. Guide the tape along your arm, over the point of your elbow and to your wrist.
  4. Ensure the tape doesn't wrap around your arm or become twisted.
  5. Note the results and label it as your sleeve or arm length.

Measuring your arm is tricky on your own. If you can have someone help you, have them hold the tape at your shoulder for you as you measure down to your wrist. Without assistance, you'll have to get creative. You could try to hold the beginning of the tape measure with your chin or even try taping the measurement tool in place — but don't use tape that's too sticky! 

Alternatively, you could rest your arm on a flat surface as you measure so the tape doesn't fall as you hold it in place at your shoulder.



Waist measurements are common for tops, bottoms and dresses. When you measure your waist, you want to find the narrowest part of your torso. That'll likely be somewhere at or above your belly button. From there, follow these simple steps to take your measurements:

  1. Place the zero end of your measuring tape at the front of your body.
  2. Wrap the measuring tape around your back and bring it back to the front.
  3. Ensure the measuring tape isn't twisted and that it's parallel to the floor, not tilting around you.
  4. Pull the tape measure so it's fitted but still comfortable.
  5. Match the front end of the tape measure with what's in front of you.
  6. Jot down the number, labeling it as your waist.


Use hip measurements to determine your sizes in dresses, skirts and bottoms. Longer tops may also include a hip size if they fall to that length. Your hips should be the widest point between your waist and your thighs. This measurement is easier to do by yourself since you won't have to worry about the position of your arms. Whether you have help or not, follow these steps to measure your hips:

  1. Stand straight with your legs together.
  2. Place the beginning of the tape measure at the front of your hips.
  3. Wrap the tape measure around your backside and bring the other end to the front.
  4. Make sure the tape isn't twisted and that it's parallel with the floor.
  5. Adjust the tape so it's taut but not uncomfortably tight.
  6. Write down the measurement and label it as your hips.


When you measure your body to fit into clothes like jeans or pants, you need your inseam. This is the length between the top of your inner thigh and below your ankle.

Taking an inseam measurement on your own is a bit tricky, but it is possible. Ensure that before you start, you think about your footwear. If you're ordering loose-fitting pants and know you'll wear a pair of heels with the outfit, put them on as you measure. If you prefer flat shoes or a short heel, go barefoot for the process. From there, follow these steps to measure your inseam on your own:

  1. Roll up the tape measure, making sure the beginning is on the outside of the roll.
  2. Hold the start of the tape measure as high up on your inner thigh as you can.
  3. Let the tape measure unroll to the floor as you hold the zero end.
  4. Ensure the tape measure isn't twisted.
  5. Keep the beginning of the tape measure at the start of your thigh and bend over at your hips.
  6. Read the number that sits just below your ankle or at the middle of your shoe's heel.
  7. Write down the measurement and label it as your inseam.

Taking this measurement will be a bit easier if you select a tape measure with large print to see it more easily as you bend down. You may also consider a slightly stiffer, yet still flexible, measuring tape to determine your inseam. If that's too challenging, see if you can get someone to help. Have them hold the part of the tape near your ankle and give you the measurement as you stand straight and hold the beginning of the tape measure.

Other Tips for Taking Body Measurements

As you take measurements to find your perfect fit, you want to be as accurate as possible. Use these extra tips to see how to take body measurements for online shopping:

  • Measure from the zero of the tape: Some tape measures have a gap between the start of the tool and the zero line. Ensure you match up the zero line with the numbers on your tape measure for an accurate reading.
  • Pick the larger size: If you find that your measurements across different areas of your body put you into different size categories, go for the larger size. It's easier to alter larger clothes to fit smaller than it is to make tight clothes bigger.
  • Compare with other clothes: If you have clothes that fit perfectly, use those for extra measurements. Some sites provide a size chart based on the size across an item of clothing. Use your garment and measure the length of the torso, the front width of the waist, the front width of the bust and other areas based on what clothes you want.
  • Remeasure if necessary: Feel free to retake your measurements to ensure you're getting the right numbers. Go through the list of body measurements once, then do it again to double-check. You could also have someone help you with your measurements once you've taken them yourself.
  • Avoid measuring too often: While you can double-check your measurements, you don't want to check them every week, especially if you're working to lower your weight. It may be weeks until your body changes, but if you do think your weight has changed, then remeasure after six or so weeks.

Shop a Range of Sizes With Perfectly Priscilla

With your measurements in hand, it's time to shop! Fill your closet with perfectly fitting pieces from Perfectly Priscilla. Our sizes range from 0/2 to 24/26 and come in a fashionable array of unique styles. When you shop with us, you'll find quality pieces that accent your measurements and show off your unique tastes.

Browse our tops, bottoms and dresses today to find your new ideal fit with Perfectly Priscilla!

Shop a Range of Sizes With Perfectly Priscilla

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