Check out previous posts in the Dressing your Body Series: Intro to Body Types, Intro to Body Proportions, Neck Length and Bust Size. You’ll learn how to assess your body’s specific proportions and choose figure flattering clothes.
Torso length is one of the most critical aspects to learn about your body’s proportions because it affects the fit of outfit fundamentals: tops, bottoms, and dresses. Read on to learn more about why this matters. You may figure out why you gravitated towards certain types of clothing without knowing why!
Classifying Torso Length: Short, regular, long
To determine your torso length classification, you compare your torso length to your leg length. Here are 3 methods:
(1) Head-Hip-Floor Method: May need help from a friend for this one! While standing, first measure from the top of your head to the widest part of your hips. Second measurement, measure from the widest part of your hips to the floor. If the 2 measurements are roughly equal (within 1 inch), you have a regular length torso,. If the first measurement (head to hip) is longer than the hip to floor measurement, you have a long torso, vice versa, and you have a short torso. Check out these visuals for help
(2) Hand Method: While standing up straight, see if you can fit two hand widths under your bust to your natural waist (narrowest point, not your hips). If you can fit more than two hand widths you have a long waist, less than two, a short waist.
(3) Sitting Method: You’ll need a friend to help out for this. Sit against a wall with your back touching the wall, legs straight out, and eyes looking straight ahead. Measure from the top of your head to the floor. This is your torso length measurement. To determine your leg measurement, subtract your torso length measurement from your total height. Determine what percentage your torso length is of your total height and also the percentage of your leg length. If your leg length is less than 45% of your total height, you have a long torso, 45 – 48% is regular, and greater than 48% means you are short-waisted.
Women with short waists can find that their waistline is easily lost in too much bulk. Belted waists can help with this, but watch out for wide belts as they can make your torso look even shorter. Low-waisted pants and jeans look spectacular on short-waisted women because they balance out proportions and visually lengthen your torso. In fact, if you want to tuck in your tops, go with low-waisted skirts and pants so that your waist isn’t shortened. Below you’ll see the singer, Brandy Norwood, who has a short waist and long legs. The high-waisted shorts on the left and the wide belt on the right further shorten her waist, while the low-rise jeans in the middle outfit elongate her torso.
See below examples of Ashlee Simpson in a belted look, low-waisted jeans, and high-waisted jeans. She can pull of all looks without her proportions looking too extreme or losing her waistline.
Keira Knightley is the poster child of long torsoed women. You’ll notice that she often wears high-waisted pants and dresses (like the 2 outfits on the right). This makes her legs look longer by creating an illusion that her waist is higher than it actually is. In low waisted jeans, it’s more noticeable that her legs are short in comparison to her torso. Which outfit do you prefer below?