Find your perfect dress size

This post has been updated. The current version can be found at:

Find Your Perfect Dress Size on

It seems like an easy question:

What size dress do you wear?

But those six little words can sometimes be nearly as confusing as asking what is the meaning of life. For so many women, the answer is multi-faceted. It depends on the label, it depends on the length, it depends on the style, it depends on the cut, it just depends!

Hanging in nearly every woman’s closet is a hodgepodge of tops, skirts, pants, sweaters and dresses with varying labels. A woman may be able to fit perfectly into a size 6 ball gown which flares at waist. But for a sheath or mermaid dress that is fitted through the hips, she may need to move up to a size 8 and have the bust taken in for a proper fit.

Likewise, a woman could have a number of fitted tops on the hangers in her closet, but the tags could read 6, 8, M, L, 34, 5, 7, S, 8P, 38 or One Size, and every last one of them will fit her just fine.

It can be a maddening process. It seems, sometimes, that the only thing standard about standard sizing is the actual word “standard” in the name.

So how do you sort it all out?

First, you have to accept the fact that the clothes which hang in your closet simply won’t all have matching tags. Until the day comes when the designers and manufacturers and retailers of the world can all come and sit together and agree on a unified world-wide system of labeling sizes for clothing, you’ll just have to live with having mix and match sizing. And even a feat like that would fail, since all women are not built the same, and therefore could not all fit into a unified specification of size.

However, when it comes to a numeric dress size, you can find the one that will absolutely fit you best by taking the time to take your measurements.

The most important measurements for dresses are accurate measurements of the bust, waist and hip. Measurements should be taken with a cloth measuring tape.

Bust – The bust size indicates the measurement around your upper torso and around your breasts. So you want to measure at the fullest point of your breasts. Don’t confuse bust size as it relates to dress measurements with the number on your bra size. The number on your bra indicates the circumference directly under your breasts. A bra measures the fullness of your breasts via a cup size. But for a dress, the size of your bust only one number, the measurement of the fullest part of your chest. That’s the measurement you need for a properly fitting gown.

Waist – The waist should be measured at the natural waistline. You natural waistline is the narrowest part of your middle, under your rib cage, but above your pelvis, just above the top of your hip bone. Put your hands just above your hips and bend forward. Feel where it is that you bend precisely? That is your natural waist.

Hip – Hips should be measures around at the widest part of your hips.

These three measurements will help define how the dress will skim your silhouette. Depending on the cut or style, a variance of plus or minus one inch may apply to the measurements.

Once you are armed with your measurements, you can find your size on the charts that are provided by dress companies. Mac Duggal size charts can be found online by clicking on any dress, then clicking on “view size chart” on the left hand side, under the dress description.


Click where the red arrow is to see the size chart!

Once you are armed with your numbers, find the corresponding figures in the chart for your proper size.


The yellow highlighted numbers correspond with the measurements below each size.

Your measurements don’t fit exactly into the chart? Not to worry. The size chart is a guide, but we all know that every woman is different. If you find your measurements are falling between categories listed, like those above, choose the larger size. For a dress that fits like a glove, most women will likely need some sort of alterations done after they make their purchase.

Two other important tips:

1 – Have someone else help you with your measurements. You might feel silly having your BFF wrap measuring tape around your bust line, but having someone else help you out could very well mean more accurate measurements. That person will be looking straight at you, as opposed to you looking down at yourself and twisting about.

2 – Don’t be consumed by the measurements. They’re just numbers. If you find that the corresponding dress size is a number bigger than you had hoped, do NOT order down a size and hope that you can whip yourself into shape in X amount of time to fit into it. It can be a very costly mistake if the gown simply won’t fit when the time comes. It’s going to be a whole lot easier to take a dress in than to let it out. Besides, you are beautiful in Mac Duggal at every size, so don’t fret if there’s an extra inch than what you wanted. Mac Duggal has a dress for you!

Mac Duggal provides measurement sizing for all dress collections, including full length evening gowns, cocktail dresses, plus-size dresses, and the Sugar children’s line of pageant dresses.

Different designers may have slight variations on the chart, but in general, they are similar enough to give you a more definitive idea of your actual dress size.

Once you have all your measurements, you’ll be able to answer the question of “what size dress do you wear” with confidence!

mac signature endnote banner

7 thoughts on “Find your perfect dress size

  1. I absolutely love Mac Duggal dresses! All of my pageant, homecoming court, and prom dress have been Mac Duggal and I never plan it that way. What a coincidence! The 2014 Prom dresses are beautiful and I have already found some that I just have to try on! I just want to say you guys are great at what you do; and thank you for always making everyone’s jaw drop when I walk out! Y’all are the best!

Tell us what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s