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What is considered tall, short, petite frame, large frame, long calves/legs, short calves/legs, long torso, or short torso for Asian women? I find it hard to try to go by regular American sizes. Clothes tend to look too tight or too frumpy on me. I’m not sure what to do. I looked up body sizes, how to wear clothes for your body type, etc. But I’m still not sure what my body type is and so on. I’m 5’3 1/2″ and about 120 pounds. My size is 32-27-34 with an inseam of 30. (I just figured all of that out the other day when I was Googling, btw.)

What does all that mean for me and trying to find clothes that will make me look more put together? What are your tips on how to help me figure out what my body type is, etc.? And what are the do’s and don’ts for my body type? Thanks!

Lily, 29/St. Paul, Minnesota, USA


Lily darling, your question couldn’t have come at a better time! As my first post for 2015, this is a good opportunity to give my readers a short primer into how all our bodies are different and unique. Some quick tips first!

• To find out if you have a short or long torso, find your natural waist first. Do this by standing straight and then bending to the side. The crease that is formed at the juncture is your natural waist.
• Place both hands one on top of the other underneath your bust. If both hands fit perfectly in the space between your bust and natural waist, then you have a balanced upper and lower torso.
• Fewer than two hands mean you’re short-waisted (short upper torso). If there’s still room for more than two hands, then you are long-waisted (long upper torso).
• The best way to do it is to ask a friend to take your measurements for you with a tape measure. Measure neck, upper arm, and thigh circumference, shoulder width, arm and calf length. Knowing your full body measurements makes you a smarter shopper!

Petite = Asian? Not always!
Today, thanks mainly to genetics and nutrition, you can be a descendant of the Vikings and still be less than five feet, or tower at 7 feet and be Asian. My point is that people come in all shapes and sizes, and different sizing standards apply from brand to brand (which merits another discussion really). So don’t be surprised if you don’t fit in standard American sizes (I fall under Petite) because they’re designed to fit the average American body. The same goes for YesStyle, which follows Asian sizing (one or two body sizes smaller than American or European sizes) and thus the clothes may not fit perfectly on those with taller or wider body frames. Below is a table comparing the dimensions of a Gap T-shirt versus a similar garment on YesStyle.

Gap Supersoft Boatneck Tee
Image from Gap.com.

Gap.com YesStyle.com
Regular Petite One Size
Size Numerical Size Chest Sleeve Chest Sleeve Chest/Bust Size Sleeve
XXS 0 31″ 30″ 31″ 29″ 26 – 32.28″* 22.44″
XS 1 32″ 31″ 32′ 29″
2 33″ 31″ 33″ 29″

*Garment measurements converted from centimeters to inches using YesStyle.com’s built-in conversion tool.

Horizontal vs vertical proportions
The length of your body is only one factor to consider when it comes to clothing. Your torso length is really based on your skeletal system and there’s really not much you can do about that. However, with your horizontal measurements, you also have to account for your genetics and lifestyle. This is where the “shapes” come in, like pear/vase, ruler/pencil, apple, hourglass, inverse triangle, etc. With your measurements, Lily, you seem to be more of an hourglass shape, and with such, you can really wear anything you like.

A V-neck or scoopneck top becomes more flattering if you’re also wearing a good bra that fits you very well so do your girls a favor and get them properly measured and outfitted in beautiful bras! For bottoms like skirts and jeans, it would depend on what you’d like to emphasize or visually balance. Wider shoulders look more proportional with flared or bootcut pants. A long-waisted torso benefits better from low-rise cuts while a short-waisted figure looks better with tops untucked.


The next step
Lily, now that you know you’re an hourglass and your basic dimensions, the next step is to use this newfound knowledge when you go shopping for clothes. Don’t be afraid to try and experiment with various styles and colors because that is the only way to find out what looks good on you. I can only make suggestions based on what information you give me and hope they agree with you. The responsibility of looking good and looking better is really on yourself.


Fashion and style are highly subjective, and despite what all the magazines, fashion designers and celebrities proclaim, if you are pleased with what you see in the mirror and are happy with it, that is the real you!

Good luck, darlings! Let’s begin 2015 with great self-discoveries!

Nikki

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