How to Size Jeans

Three Methods:Measuring a Pair of JeansMeasuring Yourself for JeansBuying the Right Pair

Buying the right size pair of jeans can be much easier said than done, especially since not all brands size their jeans identically. However, learning how to size a pair of jeans and compare the information you get to your own measurements can allow you to make a smart choice and wind up in comfortable, great-looking jeans. Best of all, most of these sizing techniques work for both women and men (exceptions are noted in the article.)

Method 1
Measuring a Pair of Jeans

  1. Image titled Size Jeans Step 1
    Grab a pair of jeans and lay them on a flat work space. Most of the measurements you need to make to size a pair of jeans are easiest if you lay them down flat. You can also take all of the measurements in this section holding the jeans vertically, but it can be a little awkward to hold and measure them at the same time unless you have a friend to help.
    • For the most accurate results, smooth out any folds and allow the jeans to settle before measuring.
    • Your jeans should be fully zipped up and buttoned before beginning.
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    Measure straight across the top for the waist size. Pull the top corners of your jeans so that the waistline is tight and flat against itself. For most cuts, the button and zipper should not hang below the rear waistline (however, on some tapered cuts, this will be the case.) Stretch a tape measure from the left side of the waist material to the right. Double this number to get your waist size.
    • If your waistband is made from elastic material, be careful not to stretch it as you measure or you will inflate the waist measurement.
    • Make a note of whether the jeans are labeled as "high-wasted" or "low rise." If the jeans are intended to sit somewhere besides your natural waist, when you measure yourself, be sure to shift your tape measure up or down by a few inches to compensate.
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    Measure the thighs two inches below the crotch seam. From the crotch seam (the point below the zipper or button where the two legs meet), move about two inches (5 centimeters) down one of the legs. Measure horizontally across the leg. Double this number to get your thigh measurement.
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    Measure the inseam from the crotch to the hem. Smooth one of the legs so that it's flat and tight against the ground. Stretch a tape measure from the crotch seam down the side of the leg to the hem or cuff (the bottom of the leg.) This is your inseam (or "inside leg") measurement.[1]
    • Note that you do not need to double this measurement.
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    Measure the front rise from the crotch to the waist. Once again, pull the corners of the waistband so that it is tight and flat against itself just like you did when you took the waist measurement. Find the crotch seam and stretch a tape measure from here up to the waistline, passing over the button and zipper. This is your front rise measurement.
    • A less important measurement, the back rise, is measured from the crotch seam back and over the rear of the jeans to the top of the rear waist band. The rear rise will always be bigger than the front rise (especially on women's jeans to accommodate a curvier figure.)[2]
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    If desired, take other optional measurements. In general, the measurements above should be plenty for finding a pair of jeans that fits you well. However, there are other measurements you can take to get an even more precise fit — a few are listed below:
    • Knee: Measure across one leg at the point where your knee would normally bend. This is usually around 14 inches (33.5 centimeters) down from the crotch, but you may need to adjust a little for especially long or short pants. Double this measurement.
    • Seat: Measure across the back of the jeans at the widest point of the seat, usually about 7 1/2 inches (20 centimeters) below the waistline.[3] You may need to adjust slightly based on the size of the jeans. Double this measurement.
    • Hem line: Measure across the opening at the bottom of the leg. Double this measurement.

Method 2
Measuring Yourself for Jeans

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    Measure around your waist where your pants normally sit. Finding your own measurements to compare to your jean measurements is basically a matter of putting the measuring tape in the places on your body that correspond to the different jean measurements. For example, to get your waist measurement, you'll want to wrap the tape around your torso about where your pants would normally sit. Find the spot where the tape touches itself — this is your waist measurement.
    • This measurement can be tricky if you're shopping for jeans with a non-standard waist measurement (like low-rise jeans, high-waisted jeans, etc.) You may need to move the tape measure an inch or two up or down to compensate. To find your natural waist, bend to one side and find the spot where your body creases. Measure from this spot around the torso, passing through the belly button.
    • To get the most accurate results, all measurements in this section should be taken in your underwear, a pair of short shorts, tights, or something similarly form-fitting.
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    Measure your thighs around their thickest point. Find the fullest part of your thigh — on most people, this should be near your crotch. Take a tape measure and wrap it around this point of the thigh. This is your thigh measurement.
    • Try not to pull your measuring tape too tight or you can give yourself an inaccurate thigh measurement and wind up in an uncomfortable pair of jeans. The tape should be snug, but you should still be able to slip one finger underneath.
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    Measure your inseam from your crotch to your ankle. Measuring your inseam by yourself can be a little tricky, so if you have a friend you trust well enough to help you may want to use him or her. Stand up straight with your legs shoulder-width apart. Stretch the tape measure from an inch or two below your crotch all the way down the inside of your leg to the middle of your ankle. Keep your leg straight and keep the tape tight against the inside of your leg. This is your inseam measurement.
    • For the best results, don't bend over to read the measurement, as this can subtly change the length of your leg. Instead, use a mirror or have a friend take the reading for you.
    • If you're struggling to hold the measuring tape in place, try using adhesive tape to secure one end to your ankle while you hold the other at your crotch.
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    Measure your front rise from your crotch to around your belly button. Stretch a tape measure from just behind your crotch line (the bottom of the crotch of your underwear) up and over the front of your pelvis to your waist. For women, this is around the belly button; for men, usually an inch or two below. It can be helpful to wear a belt for the front rise measurement to give yourself an indication of where your jean waist would lie.
    • For the rear rise measurement, you'll want to measure from the crotch line back and around to your rear belt line, passing over the seat of your underwear.
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    Take the rest of your measurements if desired. As noted above, the rest of the measurements in this section will usually be enough to get you a good-fitting pair of jeans. However, for extra accuracy, you may want to take the measurements below as well — it's up to you and the person you're buying jeans from!
    • Knee: Wrap the tape measure around your knee at its widest point. Generally, this is near the top of the knee.
    • Seat: Wrap the tape measure all the way around your pelvis and bottom at their widest point. This is usually midway between your waist and the start of your thighs, but this can differ, especially on women.
    • Hem line: Wrap the tape around your ankle at its widest point.

Method 3
Buying the Right Pair

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    Pick a pair of jeans that closely matches your measurements. Once you know your own measurements and you know how to find the measurements for a pair of pants, it's not hard to narrow down your selection of pants to the few pairs that fit you best. If possible, try to pick a pair whose measurements never differ by more than an inch (2.5 centimeters) from your own.
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    Always try on your jeans before buying. Once you've made this mistake once, you'll never make it twice: always try on jeans before you pay for them. Even a pair of jeans that looks perfect on paper may not fit comfortably once you actually try them on. One reason for this is that different manufacturers use different standards for their sizes — some designers can even differ from the "actual" measurements by a matter of inches. In addition, some materials (especially elastics, etc.) feel more comfortable to wear tightly than others. For these reasons, you'll never want to buy a pair of jeans just because they seem like they'll probably fit you without making sure.
    • If you're shopping online, trying pants on before you buy them is unfortunately impossible. In this case, you may want to read customer feedback and reviews to get a sense for how the pants fit (e.g., whether they're unusually tight in the thighs, sit low on the waist, etc.) You may also want to consider buying from retailers with generous return policies for online sales so that, if worst comes to worst, you can get your money back and buy a different size.
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    Keep in mind that jeans stretch slightly. Unless they shrink in the wash, most pairs of jeans are at their tightest the first time you wear them. With the stresses from repeated wearing, most jeans loosen up slightly over time, becoming more comfortable to wear (Some people call this process "breaking in" a pair of jeans.) This may affect your purchase — if a pair of jeans feels just ever-so-slightly too tight when you try them on, you may be able to get away with wearing them in the long run.
    • Some tailors even recommend buying jeans that are 1/2 inch (about 1.25 centimeters) too small for you so that they will fit perfectly once they're broken in.[4] Note, however, that this is somewhat dependent on the quality of the material.
    • Keep in mind also that different brands of jeans almost always fit and stretch slightly differently. One online fashion source ranks common jean brands as follows (from tightest to loosest):[5]
      H&M, Calvin Klein, Alfani, Gap, Haggar, Dockers, Old Navy
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    Consider having your pants tailored. Not happy with the fit of your jeans? By enlisting the services of a professional tailoring service, you can make sure that your jeans fit just right. There are two ways to do this: by visiting a tailor's shop in person with your jeans or by using an online made-to-order jean seller (like for instance,[6] The former option is virtually guaranteed to get you the correct fit, while the latter is more convenient but is susceptible to your own measurement errors as well as the manufacturer's.
    • Jeans weren't traditionally the sort of garment that would usually be brought to the tailor, but you don't need to worry about bringing your jeans in for tailoring today — designer jeans can easily cost hundreds of dollars, so it's best to make sure they fit.[7]
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    When in doubt, use a size chart. Jean sizes — especially for women — are notoriously difficult to get just right. If you need help figuring out exactly which pair of jeans is best for you, try consulting a jean size chart (you can find a good one for women here and a good one for men here.)[8][9]
    • To use a size chart, find your measurements on the chart, then read across to the left to determine which size you need. For example, using the first chart suggested above, if we had about a 31 inch waist, a 43 inch hip, and a 25 inch thigh measurement, we'd be about right for a size 14 pair of jeans.


  • Always try jeans on before purchasing them. Not all brands size the same way, and there is always the possibility of discrepancies in sizing from one brand to the next.
  • In addition, note that some brands use "vanity sizing," especially around the waist. In other words, a pair of jeans with a 35 inch waist may be marked a 33 or 34 to make the wearer feel better about his or her jean size.[10]
  • Some Jeans shrink when you wash them and stretch after you've had them on for a while. Your perfectly-fitting jeans might be uncomfortably tight after washing, but if you can squeeze into them, you should be able to breathe normally within a few hours!
  • See also How to Unshrink Clothes

Things You'll Need

  • Flexible tape measure
  • Your favorite pair of jeans
  • Sizing chart

Article Info

Categories: Jeans