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The Secret to Knowing Your Best Waistlines

The Secret to Knowing Your Best Waistlines

The secret to knowing which waistlines look good on you starts with your upper body proportions. Every garment that passes by your waist needs to say hello in the right way. When you shop for tops, jackets, sweaters, skirts and pants, do you ask yourself, “What will this do to my waist?” Knowing if your waist is short, evenly centered, or long tells you what garments work best.

Waist Placement

Balance is the key when choosing the best waistlines for your body. If your natural waist is evenly centered on your body, garments with waistlines should hit you exactly at your natural waist. If your waist is short or long, garments can help balance your waist proportions.

Your mid and low torso are divided by your natural waistline.  Your mid torso is the distance between your armpit to your natural waist and your low torso is the length of your natural waist to your mid-body point, the hinge joint where your hip socket meets your upper leg bone. We are going to compare these lengths to find out if your waist is short, long or evenly centered.

For many years now, pants and jeans have been cut below the natural waistline to what we call the “mid-rise” and “low-rise” lengths. Mid to low-rise pants and drop-waist skirts, dresses, jackets and tops visually lengthen your torso. Today, the high-rise pant is also back in style. High-rise pants and empire waisted dresses, skirts, jackets and tops visually shorten your torso.

Before you measure your upper and lower torsos, find your natural waistline. Tuck your fingers underneath your lowest rib at your side. Then bend your body to the side to feel for your waist. Your natural waistline is between your lowest rib and your belly button.

Grab a carpenter’s tape and put on your workout clothes to do these measurements.

Take a look at the illustrated model to see how she is extending the carpenter’s tape up to her armpit while securing it to the floor with her foot. Rest your armpit lightly at the top of the tape and hold it between your fingers at your natural waistline. Measure the distance between your armpit and natural waistline. This is your mid torso length.

Use your other hand to find your mid-body point and measure the distance between your natural waistline and mid-body point. This is your low torso.





If your mid torso is shorter than your low torso, you are short-waisted.

If your mid torso is longer, you are long-waisted.

The model on the left is long-waisted. Her mid torso is three inches longer (10”) than her low torso (7½) inches long.




















Are you short-waisted like the first model above or long-waisted like the second model above? You may also have an evenly centered waist like the third model.

1. I am short-waisted: My mid torso is shorter than my low torso. _______

2. I am long-waisted: My mid torso is longer than my low torso. _______

3. I have an evenly centered waist: My mid and low torsos are equal in length. ______

Find your best styles below:

1. SHORT WAIST (mid torso)/LONG RISE (low torso):
To visually lengthen your waistline, wear:

a) Overtops, boxy and long tops
b) Drop-waist tops, jackets, or dresses
c) Sheath dresses with no waist definition
d) Hipster belts
e) Low to mid-rise pants, drop-waist skirts
f) High-necked tops
g) Short necklaces


a) Empire-waist or strapless tops and dresses
b) High-waist pants and skirts
c) Tucking in tops
d) Cropped jackets

2. LONG WAIST (mid torso)/SHORT RISE (low torso):
To visually shorten waist, wear:

a) Tops tucked in
b) High-waist tops, jackets, dresses, skirts, pants
c) Wide belts at or above waist
d) Pockets above waist
e) Cropped tops, sweaters, jackets
f) Low necklines
g) Long necklaces


a) Drop-waist tops, jackets, skirts, dresses, pants
b) Tunics, long tops or jackets
c) Hipster belts

If you want to know more about your proportions and what clothes look best on you, click here for a free 30-minute consultation. I look forward to answering your questions!



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