How to measure your body

All you need is a tape measure!  While it’s easiest to have someone else take your measurements, it can be done by yourself.  Just stand in front of a mirror so that you can see that you have the tape in the right position.

Ideally, you should be measured wearing only your undergarments. However, a leotard or close-fitting clothing will be fine.

Because the body is made of soft tissue, it can be a bit difficult to know exactly how tight to pull the tape around the body. The tape should be a bit snug, but not tight – it should not “dig in” or make an indentation in the body.  It should not be loose, either!  Just wrap the tape around the area of the body being measured and hold it in place.  You should be able to put a finger behind the tape, but no more than that.

Bust: Measure the circumference of your bust. Place one end of the tape measure at the fullest part of your bust, wrap it around (under your armpits, around your shoulder blades, and back to the front) to get the measurement.

Waist: Measure the circumference of your waist. Use the tape to circle your waist (sort of like a belt would) at your natural waistline, which is located above your belly button and below your rib cage. (If you bend to the side, the crease that forms is your natural waistline.) Don’t suck in your stomach, or you’ll get a false measurement.

Hip: Measure the circumference of your hips. Start at one hip and wrap the tape measure around your rear, around the other hip, and back to where you started. Make sure the tape is over the largest part of your buttocks. Because making sure the tape is level back there can be hard, try to do it in front of a mirror.

High Hip: Measure around the fullest part, about 8 – 10 cm below the waist. This is helpful when fitting a slim skirt or pants (to get an accurate idea of the shape of the hip, or the belly).

Front Waist Length: Start at the shoulder (right next to the base of the neck), and measure to the waist, measuring over the fullest part of the bust.

Back Waist Length: Measure from the base of the neck (in the center, not the side), to the center of the waistline.

Sleeve Length: Measure from the top of the arm (find the bone at the shoulder/top of arm) to the wrist (find the bone at the side of the wrist), WITH THE ELBOW BENT.  It’s important to keep the elbow bent at 90 degree angle to allow for movement when you make a sleeve.

Inseam: This is the distance from the uppermost inner part of your thigh to the bottom of your ankle. You can measure your inseam in two ways.

  • With help: While you’re wearing a pair of pants, have a friend stretch the tape from your crotch to the bottom of your ankle.
  • Without help: If you have a pair of pants that fit you perfectly (and they shouldn’t be too loose around the waist), measure the inseam of the pants, again from the crotch to the hem.

The proper inseam on a pair of pants you’re going to purchase will depend on the height of the heel you’ll be wearing with them.

Thigh: Measure the circumference of the fullest part of your thigh. Wrap the tape measure around your thigh from front to back and then around to the front. You may be tempted to cheat by lowering the tape measure a few inches, but then you won’t get an accurate measurement.

Upper arm: Measure the circumference of your arm. Wrap the tape measure around the widest part of your upper arm from front to back and around to the start point.

See? It’s not hard, and you don’t need a lot of measurements to get started.  You could also measure from the waist to the knee and/or the ankle for skirt length, but we usually just try on the garment at that point to decide where I want the hem.