Clothing Sizes

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Trying to get acquainted with a new set of rules for dressing can be so confusing it may make you throw up your hands and quit. I’ve had ladies ask me many times, "What is the best look for my body?" When I ask what image they'd like to project invariably the response is "Oh, I want to look pretty." Of course everyone's version of "pretty" will vary. Don't let your clothes be the focal point! Your clothes should enhance the way you feel and the person you already are. They should make people notice you, not what you are wearing.

I usually advise these ladies to play up what they feel are their best features and play down those features they'd rather not draw attention to. I've found the easiest way to start is to consult a basic chart of body variations with suggestions on how to enhance or downplay each. As a starting point, it serves to give suggestions for elaborating on and applying different tricks to a particular look. Look at what describes your body most closely. Look at the suggestions, combine them and then translate them to your fashion look. It can be helpful and fun at the same time.

Sizing feminine attire to the male body

Here we shall discuss the important topic of clothing sizes. Specifically, how to measure your body and translate the resulting numbers into feminine clothing sizes.

Normally when one shops in a store the known size of the garment guides one to the correct area of the store where the final selection is made by trying the garment on for appearance and comfort. You will often find that size tables differ between brands according to how they cut their clothes. Thus, unfortunately, they are only intended as a guide.

Experienced shoppers know sizes vary from manufacturer-to-manufacturer, label-to-label, material-to-material and even one time to the next. In other words, clothing sizing is not an exact science. A size 8 dress from a designer in NYC can be a size 14 in a ready to wear dress. Several NY fashion designers use a "perfect" size 8 model that is a man. Sears is the only known company that uses a recommended national size standard.

The MTF is handicapped further by seeking clothing neither cut nor sized for the male body. It is wise to consider finding someone in your area to alter clothing to your specific body type, requirements, or to custom make an item for a special occasion. If you can, compare the measurements of any size tables to get a feel for how close they come to size's you have that fit you well.

The purpose of this article is to assist the MTF emerging from the dark recesses of his/her closet with the first selection of feminine clothing to provide the best chance of passing in public at an affordable cost. It is assumed this initial selection will be made from a mail order house or possibly at a store without trying the garment(s) on prior to purchase.

Taking Measurements

Obviously the first step in determining your size(s) is to take, and record, your body measurements. It is easier if you have friend help and if you wear no more then your basic undergarments (bra and panties). Referring to the figure farther on in this article measure the length, in inches, around your body at the following locations: chest, bust, waist and hips. Record the results near the same areas of the figure. It is best to have a cloth measuring tape (one can be purchased in the sewing or notions department of variety or department stores). Always keep the tape parallel to the floor and stand straight, but comfortably (breathing normally) with feet together. It's important to be wearing a bra filled in the same manner as you expect to be wearing under your new clothing.


The chest is measured with the tape snugly under the arms and above the cups of your bra. The bust is measured with the tape around the fullest part of your bra cups with the tape just snug enough to prevent its sliding down in back. The difference between the chest and bust measurement is your cup size.


The waist is measured with the tape at the narrowest part of your waist (about mid-way) between the top of the hipbone and the lowest part of the rib cage.


The hip measurement is taken with the tape snuggly around the largest part of your hips and buttocks.

Bust and Bra size

Remember, while measuring always keep the tape parallel to the floor. If you don't yet have a bra, don't despair. You can determine your bust size from your chest size if you know what the cup size of your bra is or will be. The following scale will help you determine your cup size.

If bust is larger than chest by0.5123455.5
Your Bra cup size isAAABCDDDF

For example, if you wish to wear a B-cup size bra and your chest measures 38 inches then your complete bra size is 38B. You can see that your bust measurement would be 40 inches. (Add the 2 inches of the B-cup to your chest measurement of 38" and you have 40".) Also note the numeric value of your bra is the same as your chest measurement.

If the breast spills out of cup, and top of cup is cutting in, then the bra cup size is too small.

If the cup portion of the bra is wrinkled and is over-covering breast, then the cup size is too big.

If the underband rides up at the back, the bra body is either too big or the strap has not been adjusted and is too short in length.

If the shoulder straps dig into your shoulder, adjust the back strap (loosen with the slide) until the strap fits comfortably on the shoulder.

If the shoulder straps are falling off the shoulder, adjust the back strap (tighten with the slide) until the strap fits comfortably on the shoulder.










67-72 cm

72-77 cm

77-82 cm

82-87 cm

87-92 cm

92-97 cm

97-102 cm



82-84 cm

87-89 cm

92-94 cm

97-99 cm

102-104 cm

107-109 cm

112-114 cm


84-86 cm

89-91 cm

94-96 cm

99-101 cm

104-106 cm

109-111 cm

114-116 cm


86-88 cm

91-93 cm

96-98 cm

101-103 cm

106-108 cm

111-113 cm

116-118 cm


88-90 cm

93-95 cm

98-100 cm

103-105 cm

108-110 cm

113-115 cm

118-120 cm


90-92 cm

95-97 cm

100-102 cm

105-107 cm

110-112 cm

115-117 cm

120-122 cm


92-94 cm

97-99 cm

102-104 cm

107-109 cm

112-114 cm

117-119 cm

122-124 cm



99-101 cm

104-106 cm

109-111 cm

114-116 cm


124-126 cm



101-103 cm

106-108 cm

111-113 cm

116-118 cm


126-128 cm

Bra Size Conversion

US UK France Australia International
32AA 32A 85A 10AA 70A
32A 32B 85B 10A 70B
32B 32C 85C 10B 70C
32C 32D 85D 10C 70D
32D 32DD 85DD 10D 70DD
34AA 34A 90A 12AA 75A
34A 34B 90B 12A 75B
34B 34C 90C 12B 75C
34C 34D 90D 12C 75D
34D 34DD 90DD 12D 75DD
34DD 34E 90E 12DD 75E
36AA 36A 95A 14AA 80A
36A 36B 95B 14A 80B
36B 36C 95C 14B 80C
36C 36D 95D 14C 80D
36D 36DD 95DD 14D 80DD
36DD 36E 95E 14DD 80E
38AA 38A 100A 16AA 85A
38A 38B 100B 16A 85B
38B 38C 100C 16B 85C
38C 38D 100D 16C 85D
38D 38DD 100DD 16D 85DD
38DD 38E 100E 16DD 85E
40A 40B 105B 18A 90B
40B 40C 105C 18B 90C
40C 40D 105D 18C 90D
40D 40DD 105DD 18D 90DD
40DD 40E 105E 18DD 90E

Dress Size

Using the size chart on the end of this article (which you should check against any dress size chart in any mail order catalog you may be using) and your measurements for bust, waist and hips locate your dress size from the size group for your height. The chances are your measurements are not all in the same vertical column of the chart. Again, don't despair. The size charts are not formulated for a masculine body and even some feminine bodies don't fit the size mold. Generally you will have to pick the largest size from the three measurements. Say, for example, you are 6' tall with bust/ waist/hip measurements of 42/32/38 respectively. Looking at the chart you'll see the following three different Tall Misses sizes are indicated:

  • 42 bust = size 20
  • 32 waist = size 16
  • 38 hips = size 14

The obvious choice would be the size 20 dress. However, you might rationalize that since only one inch separates your bust measurement from a size 18 it would be an acceptable choice since it would fit much better at the waist. If the dress were styled so a slight snugness at the bust and shoulders won't detract from the overall appearance then the 18 would be an acceptable selection. As a second example say your height is 5'8" and your measurements are 41/36/41. You can see that on the size chart that your 36" waist dictates the need for a tall misses size 20 dress. However, the judicious use of a waist cincher will probably bring your waist down two inches to thirty-four inches, which is perfect for a size 18 dress. Your height of 5'8" would probably also allow you to wear the same size in Misses as well as Tall Misses. As mentioned before clothing sizing is NOT an exact science and a bit of fudging is allowed, but don't let fantasies overcome common sense. The bad news is that dresses are the most difficult to fit, so if your body measurements don't line up with the chart, read on. By the way, bathing suits are sized the same as dresses.

Blouse and sweaters size

Blouses are sized by bust measurement, although shoulder width must also be considered for the male since women tend to have narrower shoulders then do men. If you have a choice between a "standard" and a Raglan shoulder take the latter since it has no seams AROUND the shoulder and you may be able to select a smaller size because of this feature. A bust measurement of forty-four inches requires a size 22. If the blouse is long sleeved a Tall Misses size should be selected to accommodate the slightly longer male arms; however if the blouse is short sleeved a Misses size 22 will probably fit just as well.

Skirt, pants, and jeans size

In a nutshell

If you are 5'4" or under, you wear: Petite Misses or Petite Juniors
5'4 1/2" to 5'8", you wear: Misses or Juniors
5'9" to 5'11" you wear: Tall Misses or Tall Juniors

Generally, skirts have zipper closures with a button on the waistband although, of course, some have elasticized waistbands. Waist measurements determine skirt size. From the chart you can see that a thirty-inch waist requires a size 14 skirt. Fitted skirts are usually cut for hips 8 to 10 inches larger than the waist. If your hips measure more than 10 inches greater than your waist you will have to use your hip measurements in selecting skirts. Tall Misses skirts are generally 2 to 4 inches longer than Misses skirts of the same size.

Petites' Tops

Size XS S M L XL
2P 4P 6P 8P 10P 12P 14P 16P 18P
Bust 32 33 34 35 36 37 1/2 39 40 1/2 42 1/2

Petites' Bottoms

Size XS S M L XL
2P 4P 6P 8P 10P 12P 14P 16P 18P
Waist 24 25 26 27 28 29 1/2 31 32 1/2 34 1/2
Hip 34 1/2 35 1/2 36 1/2 37 1/2 38 1/2 40 41 1/2 43 45
Short 27 Average 29

Women's Tops

Size XS S M L XL
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
Bust 32 1/2 33 1/2 34 1/2 35 1/2 36 1/2 38 39 1/2 41 43

Women's Bottoms

Size XS S M L XL
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
Waist 24 1/2 25 1/2 26 1/2 27 1/2 28 1/2 30 31 1/2 33 35
Hip 35 36 37 38 39 40 1/2 42 43 1/2 45 1/2
Short 29 Average 31 Tall 33

Women's Plus | Tops

Size 1X 2X 3X
16W 18W 20W 22W 24W 26W
Bust 44 46 48 50 52 54

Women's Plus | Bottoms

Size 1X 2X 3X
16W 18W 20W 22W 24W 26W
Waist 39 41 43 45 47 49
Hip 47 49 51 53 55 57
All Sizes 30

Lingerie Sizes


Use hip measurement. Panty size is determined by hip size.


















67-72 cm


72-77 cm


77-82 cm


82-87 cm


87-92 cm


92-97 cm



Use the chart on the package to determine size requirements.

Slips, Teddies, Camisoles

Use bust measurement. Misses

Bust Size32.5-3333.5-3434.5-3535.5-36.537-3838.5-39.540-41.542-43.5
Bra band size32-343434-363636-3838-4040-4242-44
Equivalent Dress size68101214161820
Womens Bust Size42-43.544-45.546-47.548-49.550-51.552-53.5  
Bra band size3838-4040-4242-4444-4646-48  
Equivalent Dress Size18W20W22W24W26W28W  








Bust (cm)







Waist (cm)







Hips (cm)







Garter-belts, Girdles, and Half-slips.

Use waist measurement. Half Slips size chart

Waist Sizes23.5-2525.5-2727.5-3030.5-33.534-35.536-37.538-42.543-47.5
Dress Size4-68-1012-1416-1820-2218W-20W22W-24W26W-28W
Misses SizeXSSMLXL   
Womens Size     1X2X3X

Corselets and Body briefers

Use bust measurement. Pay special attention to garment length.

Hose and Stockings

Generally sized by body height. 5'8" or taller use sizes 11 through 13 large or long. 5'7" and shorter use sizes 8 to 10, average or medium. Stockings size chart

Shoe Size3-44.5-55.5-66.5-77.5-88.5-99.5-10
Stocking size8.599.51010.51111.5

Shoe Sizes

Sizes vary from label to label and style to style more than any other article in the feminine wardrobe. As a rule of thumb (or toe) males require a 1/2 to a full size larger in feminine sized sandals (a "sandal" is any feminine shoe style with an open toe) than when buying masculine styled shoes. For pumps or shoes with a closed toe 1 to 1 1/2 size larger is required.

You can easily determine your shoe size the old-fashioned way. All you need is a piece of paper, a pencil and a ruler. Just follow these instructions:

  1. . Place your foot, naturally stretched, on a piece of paper.
  2. . Mark the back of your heel.
  3. . Mark the tip of your longest toe.
  4. . Measure the distance (in inches) between marks.
  5. . Select the appropriate inch-to-shoe size conversion chart below.

Using the above information you will have an approximation of the size required so be sure the shoes you're ordering are available in the size you need. (especially of note is width)

Once you have your heel-to-toe length in inches, simply match it to its corresponding shoe size. If in doubt order or try the next size up.

Women's (US size)

Inches 8 8 3/16 8 3/8 8 1/2 8 11/16 8 13/16 9 9 3/16 9 3/8 9 1/2
Shoe Size 3 3 1/2 4 4 1/2 5 5 1/2 6 6 1/2 7 7 1/2
Inches 9 11/16 9 13/16 10 10 3/16 10 3/8 10 1/2 10 11/16 10 13/16 11 3/16 11 3/8
Shoe Size 8 8 1/2 9 9 1/2 10 10 1/2 11 11 1/2 12 12 1/2 13 1/2

See also

Fashion advice


  • Editor's Note: Derived from A CD's shopping guide by Sandi Horn