Vintage Clothing Size Guide

Views 12 Likes Comments Comment
Like if this guide is helpful

Before you do anything, buy yourself a tape measure and use it!


Great care is taken to measure all garments offered for sale at  Catwalk Creative Vintage. Measurements are taken in inches and centimetres with the garment laid-out flat with side seams straight out (not stretched).

Bust: taken from underarm to underarm;

Natural waist: taken across the garment at the narrowest part of the waist.  If the waist is elasticated I will give the measurement of the waist un-stretched and the measurement of the waist fully stretched;

Empire waist: taken across the garment under the bust;

Hips: taken across the garment, 9 inches below the natural waist;

Length: depending on the type of garment I will indicate for each item whether this is taken from centre back (nape of neck) to hem, shoulder to hem or waist to hem etc;

Upper sleeve length: taken from either the shoulder seam to the end of cuff or from the neck seam to end of cuff, depending on the cut of the garment;

Any other measurements deemed to be appropriate for a garment will be given.
How to measure yourself

How To Select Vintage Clothing For Your Size

The measurements I provide are of the actual garment, and you should always allow for ease of movement. Therefore if you have a 30 inch waist, and the garment also has a waist measurement of 30 inches, it will be too tight for you, unless the fabric is stretchy.

In order to allow for ease of movement, you should add these measurements to your own:

BUST - add 1.5 to 2 inches (4cm to 5cm)
WAIST - add 1 inch (2.5cm)
HIPS - add 2 to 3 inches (5cm to 7.5cm)
UPPER ARM CIRCUMFERENCE - add 1 inch (2.5cm).

Do not add ease of movement measurements to shoulder widths. For stretchy fabrics or knits, the 'before-stretch' numbers should be a little less than your actual measurements.

Alternatively, you can assess whether a vintage garment will fit by following these steps:

Step 1 - take your bust (at the fullest part), waist (at the natural waistline) and hip measurement (fullest part) plus any other relevant measurements. For example, if you want to buy a long sleeved garment you will also need to know your arm measurements;

Step 2 - take corresponding measurements from one of your own garments that fits you very comfortably;

Step 3 - compare the two sets of measurements and take note of the difference between your measurements and the measurements of your garment. The difference will give you a guide as to how much bigger than you a garment should be to give you a comfortable fit.

Step 4 - Consider the style of the vintage garment that you are interested in, as this will affect your final decision on whether to buy. Remember that body shapes differ from one person to the next, and not everyone has the same proportions. For instance, in the case of an A-line shift dress, it may not matter that the waist and hip measurements are a few inches bigger than your measurements, as long as the bust fits you comfortably. However, in the case of an hour glass shaped garment that fits you at the waist and hips, it will matter if the bust of the garment is too big, unless you are able to adjust the garment, or you are able to get someone else to adjust it for you.

If you have an a-typical body shape, such as a high or low natural waistline, you will need to know measurements from the shoulder or neck to the waist. I recommend that you have all the relevant measurements to hand when making a decision about an item on the website.  A well informed choice will avoid disappointment and expense.
Finally, remember that your measurements, like your weight, can fluctuate, so take your measurements on a regular basis to ensure the best chance of a good fit. If you are in any doubt about about any of the garment measurements listed in my eBay shop, please contact me.

Catwalk Creative Vintage is a member of the Vintage Fashion Guild (VFG)

Vintage Fashion Guild member

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides