Ideal Weight Vs. Dress Size

Woman carrying multiple shopping bags

When you're shopping for a little black dress or a new casual outfit, it's easy to get hung up on the numbers on the tag. Women often equate their self worth to their dress size, which can be a destructive habit. Surprisingly, weight and dress size might not be as interconnected as you think. If you're really concerned about your ideal weight, it's best to focus on the number on the scale; not the number on the tag.

Ideal Weight and BMI

Your ideal weight consists of two measurements: Your weight and your height. It's using these two numbers that you can find your Body Mass Index, which is one of the best predictors of overall healthy weight. Since the ideal weight for a woman who is 5 feet tall is drastically different from a woman who is 6 feet tall, aim for a healthy BMI instead of a healthy weight number. You can calculate your own BMI with the following calculation: Weight (lb) / [height (in)]squared x 703. For instance, a woman who is 5 feet and 110 pounds would have a BMI of 21.5. Since a healthy BMI rests between 18.4 and 24.9, this woman would have a healthy weight.

Dress Sizes

The problem with dress sizes is that they're often equated with weight, but they're really created with inches -- not pounds -- in mind. A dress size is a general number that is created after hips, bust, waist and shoulders have been correctly measured. Your weight has little to do with dress size, other than the fact that your weight can dictate the width of these measurements. Still, there's no one "ideal" dress size for any weight. Dress size measurements also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. What registers as a size 6 at one store could be an 8 or a 10 elsewhere, making dress size a poor indicator of weight or health.

Body Shape

Your weight doesn't have as much to do with your dress size as your overall body shape. In fact, two people could weigh the exact same amount, yet one wears a size 4 and the other wears a size 8. Your body proportions have many factors, including genetics and body fat content. If you have an hourglass shape, you'll probably find that you match up with industry standard dress sizes fairly well, but apple, inverted triangle and pear shapes may need larger sizes and more modifications to get the perfect fit.

Losing Weight

If you've been diligently working out, but aren't seeing a ton of results on the scale, your dress size might be a better predictor of progress. Since there's no such thing as spot reduction, you should be seeing an all over change in your body, rather than a shrunken waist, smaller bottom or smaller number on the scale. You can watch your progress by seeing how your clothes fit and whether or not you need to go down a dress size when trying on new clothes. That way, you're not obsessing over any one number -- be it on the scale or on the tag -- during weight loss.