The Complete Guide That Makes Measuring Apparel Simple

If you’ve ever been shopping for clothes, you know what an absolute nightmare sizing can be. The apparel industry has no regard for consistent sizing when it comes to women’s clothing, especially. This can make finding the latest fashion trends in your size difficult to impossible. 

While men’s clothes might not suffer from vanity sizing to the same extent as women’s do, even they have some inconsistencies.

So, how can you figure out if the clothes you want to buy will actually fit you? Measuring apparel is the one surefire solution. Not sure how to do it? Our guide will show you what you need to know!

Learning Your Measurements: Lower Body

First, let’s dig into measuring apparel for your lower body. All the best fashion gurus know that the right fit for your pants can be the difference between looking like a model and looking like someone’s out-of-touch relative.

So, what measurements do you need to know to ensure the best fit for your pants? The best ones to keep in mind include:

  • Waist: Measured two inches above your belly button
  • Hip: Measured across the fullest part of the hips, or 8in below the waist
  • Inseam: Measured from the bottom of the groin to the ankle

If you have these three measurements in mind, you can be sure that the pants or skirt you purchase will fit the right way.

Learning Your Measurements: Upper Body

Measuring apparel for your upper body can vary depending on whether you need to check sizing for a T-shirt or a button-up. If you purchase from a T-shirt vendor like, you won’t need the most precise measurements.

The upper body is also where you see the largest differences between measuring apparel for men and women. For example, when you measure dress shirts for women, you only need to know the bust and waist measurementsTo get an accurate measure for the bustline, you go from the armpit, across, and around the fullest part of the bust.

What About Measuring Apparel for Men?

For men, measuring apparel for the upper body can be a bit trickier. The measurements you need to keep in mind for the best men’s clothing fit include:

  • NeckMeasured around the base where the neck meets the shoulder
  • Shoulder Width: Measured across the back at the intersection of shoulder and arm
  • Sleeve Length: Measured from the shoulder to the meat of the palm

Make sure to allow a little extra room in each of these measurements so that the fit isn’t too snug. You also need to know the chest and waist measurements, which get taken the same way as the bust and waist measurements for women.

Making the Shoe Fit

Before we move on, let’s also take a moment to discuss how to make sure that a shoe you buy online will fit you. First, measure the length of your foot from heel to the highest point of your toes. Then, measure the width across the widest part of your foot.

If you have those measurements on hand, you won’t have to worry about getting narrow shoes when you needed wide, or vice versa.

Measuring Apparel at Point of Purchase

Knowing your own measurements and keeping a record of them is all well and good. However, how does that help you at the point of purchase? The garment industry doesn’t tend to offer a complete profile of those measurements. This goes double if you’re buying clothes for women.

Here’s a little trick that all the best fashion gurus follow: Keep a tape measure with you! This can prove a godsend when you’re out shopping in person.

What About Shopping Online?

Buying clothes online when you don’t know your measurements means making a lot of mistakes. However, you’re not necessarily any less blind when buying clothes with your measurements, either. You’re at the mercy of the measurements listed by the online seller.

Of course, these measurements can be incomplete, unknown, or inaccurate, depending on where the seller sourced the clothes. (Although, of course, it’s in the site owner’s best interest to have an accurate sizing chart if they want to see success.)

Don’t Forget Your Conversion Rates

One thing to keep in mind when measuring apparel, in-person or online, is your conversion rate. While Imperial units of measurement are the standard for clothes in the United States, the metric system is the standard for everywhere else in the world. 

So, if you’ve taken your measurements in inches, but the dimensions listed for the clothes you want to buy are in centimeters, what should you do? Simply put, remember the conversion rates. 1cm is around 0.4in, where 1in equals around 2.54cm.

For example, if your shirt has a 36in bustline, you’ll want to ensure the bust measurement comes to around 91 or 92cm.

What If the Clothes Don’t Fit?

While our guide to measuring apparel should help you avoid this situation, sometimes, it’s unavoidable. Especially when you order clothes online, and even more so when measurements don’t exist or prove inaccurate.

So, what’s your recourse if the clothes don’t fit when you get them? For the most part, sellers can work with you and help you return items that don’t fit. This tends to work best with the larger retailers. However, if you buy the clothes secondhand, you may not be able to return them.

Never Lose Out on the Latest Fashion Trends

Finding great online deals on the latest fashion trends can feel like a lifesaver. However, if you forge ahead without measuring apparel, you can wind up with a wardrobe full of clothes that don’t fit. 

With the simple guides we’ve listed here, you should be able to buy fitted clothes with ease. However, if you need more help deciphering size charts or handling size discrepancies, check out the Fashion section of our blog for more handy articles like this one.

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