Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dress Week: measurements and body types

Measurements and Body Types:

I thought this would be a good place to start talking about the steps involved in finding a great wedding dress…or a great any dress for that matter. I believe anyone that wants to look great in their clothes should have a “realistic” idea of what their measurements might be at any given time. This is a good idea for a couple reasons. First, part of staying healthy is striving to achieve physical fitness. If you are not in your best shape measuring will give you a start marker. As you become more in shape and in better health you will have a physical representation of a job well done as your numbers and your thighs begin to shrink. Second, if you are in great shape or you just flat don’t care you should still know your measurements for fitting purposes. For example, let's say you want to order a dress online. You may want to check your measurements against their size chart to know what size to order. Also, if you know your measurements you can determine your body type. Often you can look in the mirror to determine your type, but sometimes it comes down to measuring.

I hate pulling out the tape on myself just as much as the next person, but because I know what my measurements should be and I know my bodies tendencies this is a good way to keep myself in check. For instance, I am an hourglass, but if lay-off the gym and eat too many of my cheesecakes over the holidays I tend to swing pear. So, I suppose it’s fair to say I am a seasonal fruit. There is nothing necessarily wrong with any body type. The whole point of knowing your body type is simply to achieve vertical balance helping you to look your best in your clothing.      

Most of my drawings I will feature this week are from a retail help manual I single-handedly created on my internship. The diagrams are informative and easy to follow so I will be working from them.
 (I will say I am not sure why the above croquis has exceptionally long arms for such a short torso, but I am sure you understand the points for measuring just the same.)

  • Hollow to hem: refers to measuring from the clavicle dip at the front base (middle not top or bottom) of the neck to the floor *Note: if you will be wearing heels with a floor length gown wear them when measuring.
  • Hollow to waist: measure from the hollow to the natural waist
  • Upper bust: measure around the body directly under the armpit and arching over the top of the bust
  • Full bust: measure around the body at the height of the fullest bust point
  • Under bust: measure directly under the bust around the rib cage
  • Natural waist: lies between the bust and the hips, below the ribs at the smallest circumference of the torso *Note: if unsure tie a ribbon around the waist area of the body and measure at the point where the ribbon falls.
  • High hip: located 3” down from the waist measurement
  • Low hip: located 7” down from the waist measurement or the fullest point of the hips

Now that you are familiar with measuring let’s look at the full bust, natural waist and low hip measurements to determine your bust/waist/hip ratio otherwise know as body type or shape.

There are really four basic body types with variables and degrees to each: Hourglass, Pear, Straight, and Apple.
  • Hourglass: (opposing triangles) defined by (basically) the same hip and bust measurements with a well defined smaller waist measurement. The hips and bust appear larger in comparison to the waist. This body type typically shows weight gains first in arms, chest, hips, and thighs.

  • Pear: (upward triangle) defined by a smaller bust measurement than hip measurement…just as the fruit, smaller on top and larger on bottom. This body type typically shows weight gains first in the hips and thighs. 

  • Straight (also known as banana or rectangle): (rectangle) defined by (basically) the same hip and bust measurements with a slightly smaller waist measurement. Typically 8” or less difference between the bust/hip measurement and the waist measurement. In a university study in 2005 more American women fit this category than any other single category. This body type typically shows weight gain evenly over the body.

  • Apple (also known as oval): (downward triangle) defined by larger shoulder, bust and waist measurements than hip measurements. Hips and legs tend to be noticeably slimmer than upper body. This body type typically shows weight gains first in arms, chest and tummy.

    • Inverted Triangle: (downward triangle) is really just a subcategory of Apple. Defined by broad shoulders, narrow hips and undefined waist.  

  • Petite: Under 5’ 4”

  • Tall: Over 5’ 8”

Determine your body type because I will cover choosing the best dress silhouettes for your body in the next post.

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