Overall, women's sizing charts are not very consistent. Since one woman's body can be a size two in one store and a six or eight in another, it's always wise to check the specific store's sizing chart before making a purchase, because they could vary just enough to require a different size than what you'd usually wear.
Overview of the Womens Sizing Chart
Women's clothing is broken up into a handful of other smaller categories: juniors, petite, misses, and women's (often used as a term for plus size). You may also find regular/average and tall sizes within a line in which the sizing will be slightly different to cover the extra length of the legs, arms, and torso. Average sizes range from 5'4" to 5'8". Some women's sizing charts overlap. For example, there are plus sizes within juniors sizes, tall misses sizes, and so on. Available sizes will vary by manufacturer, as will the measurements for each size.
These clothes are often created with younger women and those with slim hips in mind. Women with dramatic hourglass figures or pear shapes may not have the best luck in this section. Those with boyish or "ruler" shapes will most likely enjoy these best. Sizing is done in odd numbers, from size 1 up to 13 or 15. Some stores offer a selection of plus size or tall juniors clothing too.
Petite sizing is available for women who are 5'4" and under. The sizing is similar to that of the misses sizing in that the sizes are even numbers, but the inseams, shirt lengths, and sleeve lengths are shorter. They're created with a smaller frame overall in mind.
Misses are generally the average sizes for women with a few more curves than those who fit into the juniors category. The difference between juniors and misses sizing, aside from the room for extra curves is the fact that misses sizing is done in even sizes instead of odd. Sizes range from 0 to around 12.
Plus sizes usually start around size 14 and are often marked with a W, as in 14W. You can find women's, or plus sizes in tall and juniors sizes.
Tall sizes are for women over 5'8". You'll find longer inseam lengths, sleeve lengths, and if most regular sizes leave your midriff showing a bit, you'll be glad to know that the shirt lengths are often longer, too. Tall sizes are available in juniors, misses, and plus sizes.
Measuring to Find Your Size
Before you can consult a size chart and decide what size you need, you'll need to know your measurements. You'll need a cloth tape measure so that you can get the snug fit necessary for accurate measurements. Undress and stand up straight so that additional clothing and slouching don't get in the way.
- To measure your bust size, take the tape around the largest part of your bust and your shoulder blades, keeping the tape positioned under the arms.
- For your waist, you'll need to locate your natural waistline, which is often near the smallest part of your torso and your navel. Make sure that you keep the tape straight as you measure. Keep it snug, but not tight around your waist. Stand up straight but don't suck your gut in.
- Measuring your hips means taking the measuring tape around the fullest part of them, making sure that it's wrapped around the buttocks as well, in a straight line. If you have a mirror available, it will be helpful for making sure that the measuring tape isn't sloped up or down in the back.
- For your inseam, you won't actually measure on your body. Instead, you'll measure a pair of pants you already have and like the length of (you may add or subtract inches accordingly if you don't like the length of any of your pants). Lie them flat and measure from the crotch to the bottom.
Sizes range from 0-2 (extra small) to 14-16 (extra large). Smaller sizes are usually petites, and larger sizes usually found in women's or plus size departments. Remember that each clothing brand will have their own sizing guidelines, so watch carefully to ensure you are buying the correct size. The following gives an approximate guideline of women's clothing sizes and measurements (in inches).
- Size: 0/2, Bust: 32, Waist: 24, Hips: 34
- Size: 4/6, Bust: 34, Waist: 26, Hips: 36
- Size: 8/10, Bust:36, Waist: 28, Hips: 38
- Size: 10/12, Bust: 38, Waist: 30, Hips: 40
- Size: 14/16, Bust: 40, Waist: 32, Hips: 42
For a look at what size you wear in a number of popular brands, visit SizeCharter for a size finding widget and brand size charts to help you find your best clothing fits.
Although a general women's size chart can help indicate if an item of clothing will fit, it is always important to look at the sizing for the specific brand or manufacturer of clothing. Unless you are familiar with a certain brand's sizing, it is often best to try the garments on beforehand. Remember when giving women's clothing as a gift, it is important to include a gift receipt and check that the store or site has an adequate return policy in case the item does not fit the woman for whom the gift is purchased. With a little forethought, it isn't difficult to get clothing that fits well and looks fabulous.