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Before we being to dress our body, it is important for us to understand its shape and structure. It is important to understand that being curvy is not simply a matter of having a big bust or big hips. It is about the size of your bust and/or hips relative to your waist.

The first thing to do is measure yourself. Measure your bust around the fullest part (keeping the tape straight the whole way around), your waist at the smallest part, and your hips at the fullest part. Remember or write down each of your measurements as you go.

If your waist measurement is larger than or equal to your hips and/or bust you are…

NOT CURVY

Clothes that are catered to the curvy body type may not flatter you the best. This body type tends to be more common among plus sized women.

If your waist measurement is 1-7 inches smaller than your hips and/or bust you are…

SLIGHTLY CURVY

Your curviness falls within what the fashion industry currently considers normal (lucky you!). You are likely to find shopping for form fitting clothing fairly easy, excluding other fit issues such as height and size unavailability.

If your waist measurement is 8-11 inches smaller than your hips and/or bust you are…

MODERATELY CURVY

It is likely that finding the right fit for your curves can sometimes be an effort in frustration, particularly if you are busty (clothes are generally constructed for women with larger hips than bust). You may find yourself going up a size in to clothing that does not fit your waist to accommodate your bust or hips.

If your waist measurement is 12 inches or more smaller than your hips and/or bust you are…

DRAMATICALLY CURVY

This is where clothing availability starts to become incredibly difficult, particularly if you are busty (clothes are generally constructed for women with larger hips than bust). You may have to go up by 1, 2 or even more sizes simply to find clothing that fits your bust and/or hips, but hides your comparably tiny waist.

I based these measurements partly on commonly understood metrics among the fashion community, and also on research I have personally performed on the sizing guides of many companies common to Australia, the UK and the US.  It is also important to note that plus sized women may appear less curvy than straight sized women with the same difference in measurements as the waist/bust and waist/hip ratio of plus sized women will be higher. This may have implications upon the accuracy of this measuring tool.

This guide will be continued in Part 2: Body Shape.

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