Hey gents,

How many times have you stumbled upon a sweet deal online but never completed the purchase because you couldn’t figure out if the last one in your size would actually fit (and there were no returns, no exchanges)?

Or have you ever found the perfect sport coat on eBay or Style Forum, but it didn’t have size tags and the seller simply listed the measurements?

I mean, what the heck are you supposed to do with that, right?

Am I right?!

Well, let’s make sure this never happens to you again. Here’s the ONE tool you need to solve all your online shopping woes:

Tailor’s tape!

Lucky for you, you can find it on Amazon, in practically any big box store (Target, Walmart, Kmart), or in an arts and crafts store in your neighborhood, and it’ll cost you a few dollars at most.

How is tailor’s tape going to solve all my online shopping woes?

This little tool can measure every single square inch of that hot bod of yours. And those measurements are exactly what you need to make those confusing online purchases much easier.

I don’t want to measure every square inch of my body.

Okay, fine. I was over-exaggerating anyway. You really only need 6, maybe 7, measurements. That’s it! With those 6 (or 7) measurements, you can buy any garment anywhere without having to try it on. Pretty nifty, right?

So what parts of my body should I measure?

Good question. To make it easy, why not take a look at this handy dandy diagram below:

Here are some descriptive definitions for the more confusing ones:

Sleeve length: Measure from the base of the neck, across the traps to the shoulder, down the arm, to your wrist bone.

Chest: Measure the widest part of your chest, usually across the nipples (ooh la la).

Natural waist: Your natural waist is generally where your torso bends if you were to stand straight with your legs shoulder width apart, and tipped over slightly to one side. That crease sorta in the middle of your ribs? That’s your natural waist.

Hip: Where your pants typically sit. If you finger that area (wow, really?) you can feel your hip bone. Your tape should come right across there, parallel to the ground.

Inseam: Measure from the inside of your thigh (this is too much) to the heel.

These are the only measurements you’ll need.

Some tips on getting an accurate measurement

This is a little difficult to do if you’re on your own, unless you have something like this. If you’re not as fancy and you picked up traditional tailor’s tape, better get your patient significant other to help you out.

Keep the tape straight

It’s really important to make sure the tape is level as your S.O. is wrapping it around your body parts (whoa). If it isn’t straight, chances are you’ll get a skewed measurement. An inch can make a big difference in the fit of your clothes, so make sure your designated measurer is as precise as possible. If you’re measuring your chest, waist, or hips, the tape should be parallel to the ground.

Too loose = bad

You want to feel the tape wrapped around you. If it’s too loose, most likely it’s also not straight, so you’re going to get an inaccurate measurement no matter what.

Too tight = bad

Yes, you want to feel the tape wrapped around you, but you don’t want to cinch it so snugly that your spare tire is cascading over it, enveloping the tape in a wall of skin and lard like some weird 80s horror film. Keep it firm, but not tight.

Line it up

Hold one end, wrap the tape around your body, hold it firm, and match up the free end to the nearest line on the tape, like so:

Pretty simple, right? You want to do this for each of the areas listed in my handy dandy diagram above.

Half or full?

Some places give you measurements that look peculiarly small. For example, you may see a garment listed as having a 20″ chest measurement. Well that just means they measured across the chest without doubling the measurement. So your 40″ chest is 40″ because you went all the way around your body.

While you’re at it, measure your clothes

Let’s say you have a blazer that fits you perfectly. Take the jacket’s measurements. This will come in handy when you’re looking to buy suiting online.

Measuring a garment is similar to measuring your body, but easier. You’re essentially taking the same measurements you would on yourself. Lay your garment on a flat surface, and follow this measuring guide:


(need the full size version? click here.)

BOOM! You’re equipped.

Make sure to keep these numbers on a Post-it and stick it in your wallet for quick reference, and shop online with confidence, armed with the knowledge of your own measurements.

Feels good, doesn’t it?


I’m here to help. Leave em in the comments below!



photo, photo

Learn a few shortcuts to dressing well

Enter your first name and email, and I'll send you a free eGuide with quick and easy tips you can use today.

28 Responses

  1. D.Gandhi on

    I absolute loved your article. Very informative.
    However, I had a question.Do you have a table which mentions the different measurements for different countries?That can come quite handy when one is ordering clothes online from another country.Thank [email protected]:disqus .com

    • Barron on

      I don’t have one personally, but what are you looking for? I’m sure a quick Google search will yield the right table of measurement conversions.

      Try that out and if I can help find one, let me know.

  2. Ivar on

    Thanks for the article, this information is really handy! But maybe you could also write something about buying shoes online with different country metric systems, since even though I know my size, I never feel confident in buying them?

    • Barron on

      Yeah, it’s tough when buying shoes based on different measurement systems. It always varies from country to country, and even shoe brand to shoe brand. Sometimes you just have to try them on to know if it will fit. As long as you know your typical size, you’re pretty safe.

      Like for me, I’m a 9.5, which means I’m around a 41 in European sizing. Sometimes when I try shoes on though, I’m a 40 or a 42. It really depends. If you’re buying shoes online, just do so from a place with a good return and exchange policy.

      I found the attached image here: http://www.easyunitconverter.com/shoe-size-conversion/shoe-size-converter.aspx

      • Bogdan on

        This image you posted is for women sizes. The second table from the linked page is for men. 9.5 in US means 43.5 in Europe!

  3. Jason on

    If you’re measuring your clothes for comparison to online, the measurements you’ll need for a jacket also include:

    Shoulders, seam to seam across
    Length from the bottom of the collar to the hem of the jacket
    Sleeve length from sleeve seam to the end of the cuff

    Those are the ones you’ll most likely see on eBay listings and such

  4. Dan on

    Awesome to see this after I sent an email asking about it! I think tracking measurements is also a good way to measure progress on a diet, as well.

    • Barron on

      Yep, thanks for the article inspiration. Tracking measurements is the best way to measure weight loss progress because oftentimes the scale lies. Plus if you’re doing strength training to lose fat (which everyone should), if you go by the scale, it looks like you’re not “losing weight” even though you are… it just so happens you’re building muscle and losing fat, and changing your body composition, but the scale doesn’t know that.

      Check out nerdfitness.com, my favorite site for topics on working out, losing weight, etc.

  5. Dr.Pain on

    First of all, I realy enjoy your articles. I was looking for a new coat and before i could google it Coolmaterial had your 3 basic coats article linked. If that ain’t a sign i don’t know what is.
    Let me do you a favour now. Gentlemen, i present to you: THE FUTURE. 
    Getting your significant other to measure you is fine, but than again he or she is probably not a tailor (which reminds me: you could probably pay him to measure you). A few days ago i read about UpCload and i find their idea very intriguing. You get infront of your webcam and make a few shots with a CD in your hand (because they are normed) and the computer not only tells you your size, but it also transaltes it into the different sizes the onlineshops used. At least this is the plan, right now they are beta testing with only one shop i believe.
    I myself did not test it yet, cause i just had my gf measure me and from that i know it can be rather frustrating when you don’t know a 100% what you are doing.^^

  6. chriss on

    The diagrams you have for measuring sleeve length show different measurements- one from the base of the neck and one from a few inches down the back. If I measured off my body and then bought a shirt with that sleeve length, wouldn’t the sleeves be long?

    • Barron on

      Hey Chris, a little below the base of your neck, where you can feel the big bone from your spine, in between your traps (the muscles that flex when you bring your shoulders back) is a good place to start the measurement. If you’re a little above or below that, it shouldn’t be too much of a difference.

      That second diagram of the shirt is where we start measuring the shirt’s sleeve length, but that part of the shirt (the back yoke) lays at approximately the same spot as I’m describing.

      Hope that clarifies things a bit.

  7. Christopher Dravus on

    Really helpful stuff the measuring tape. In this day and age I think those of us who are style savvy have a better generally awareness of the importance of proper FIT then many who came before us. We want to show off the shape of our body rather than being boxy or barrel like because of clothes that are too big. We know that clothes should skim the skin rather than constrict it or barely touch it. Knowing your measurements is incredibly helpful to making an off the rack suit or outfit fit better (and for buying things that your tailor has a hope of adapting to your shape). 

    Great piece of advice Barron.


  8. Ray Williams on

    Don’t forget across the shoulders. A very expensive alteration and can only be altered one direction.