Measuring yourself is the secret to buying clothes online that fit you well

Photo credit: Emma Seymour

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Taking the time to measure yourself accurately can make it easier to order the right size when shopping online. You don’t have to go to a tailor or try on clothes in person to find clothes that fit: Good housekeeping institute The Textiles Lab pros are there with all the tips and tricks to measure yourself well at home.

How to take your own measurements:

The most accurate tool for measuring yourself at home is a soft tape measure or tailor’s tape. GH pros love it this one, and it’s not expensive! If you don’t have one, you can measure yourself without a soft measuring tape by using a piece of string or tape instead (make sure it doesn’t stretch) and then measuring the string with a ruler or construction tool. tape measure.

Before you begin, wear light, snug-fitting clothes and underwear that isn’t overly padded. As you measure yourself, keep the tape level all around your body, parallel to the floor. For accurate measurements, the tape should fit snugly but not uncomfortably tight. Try taking deep breaths, sitting down and standing up to check that the tape is not compressing you as you move and breathe. This ensures that clothes of this size will not be too tight. Some pros choose to stick a finger or two inside the tape measure to avoid buying clothes that are too tight for their liking.

Screw up:

Bust refers to the widest part of your chest. It is best to keep your bra on for the measurement unless you are specifically buy a bra or an item of clothing that you will wear without a bra. To measure, raise your arms and wrap the tape under your armpits directly over both nipples. For men, it’s the same concept: measure directly over the fullest part of your chest.

Some size charts include an underbust measurement (also called band, chest, or rib cage). To get this measurement, place the tape directly under your breasts, where the bra band would go.

Photo credit: Emma Seymour

Photo credit: Emma Seymour


Most size charts and sewing patterns say “waist” to refer to your natural waistline, which is not at your navel! To find your natural waistline, stand up straight and bend from side to side, finding where your body creases. At this point, wrap the tape measure straight up. For many, this is the least point, but it may not be!


Hips are another hard measurement to find, as many think your hip measurement is always at the level of your hip bones, but that’s not true! Your hip measurement is across your booty at your widest point. For an accurate measurement, make sure your feet are straight below your hips and not apart. Remember to sit down and stand up as you measure your hips to make sure you don’t overtighten the tape. This will avoid that all too common problem where the pants fit snugly when you stand up, but as soon as you sit down they dig in and are uncomfortable.

Photo credit: Emma Seymour

Photo credit: Emma Seymour

Less common measures

Bust, hips, and waist are the most common measurements you’ll find when shopping for clothes, but if you’re shopping for hats, jeans, or other specialty types of clothing, a few additional measurements might come in handy.

To manage: Place the measuring tape on your forehead and wrap it around your head, above your ears. If you’re between hat sizes, the pros recommend going up a size.

Inseam: For jeans, in particular, the brands may indicate an inseam measurement next to the waist measurement on the label. This refers to the distance between your crotch and the bottom of your leg where the pants would end. It helps to have someone to help you because if you bend down to check it can skew the measurement.

Outer seam: On the other hand, the outseam runs along the outside of your leg from your natural waistline (remember: this is the point at which your body bends) to the bottom of the pants.

Photo credit: Emma Seymour

Photo credit: Emma Seymour

How to buy clothes online that fit you:

When shopping online, match your measurements to the brand’s (not the retailer’s) size chart, as each company bases their sizing on different measurements. Go for online stores with free shipping and returns, so it will be simple to send something back if the size is out. Read reviews online to see how other people rate the fit of the item. Our pros love sites that allow customers to upload photos, so you can see what the parts look like on different body types. And try not to get discouraged – it may take some trial and error to find the perfect fit.

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Elizabeth J. Harless