How to Measure the Inseam on Your Pants & Body

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There are few things more frustrating or annoying than ordering a stylish pair of pants online, getting all excited about them, and then finding out they don’t fit properly when they arrive.

While a pant’s length is one of the easiest things for a tailor to adjust, making a trip all the way to the tailor is kind of annoying.

Chandler Bing Pants Measuring GIF
Could there BE a better reason to measure your own inseam?

(Especially when you’re asking him to fix a problem that could have been avoided if you had known your inseam measurement and consulted the size chart before doing your online shopping.)

Fortunately, measuring your own inseam is actually quite easy, and doing it yourself will spare you both a trip to the tailor, and the need to have an awkward conversation with your friend Joey about “how they do pants.”

Below, I’ll show you the best way for people of every shape, size and body type to measure their inseam, and help you make sure that your next pair of jeans, khakis or dress pants has the perfect fit.

How to Measure Inseam

Two Quick & Effective Ways to Measure the Inseam on Your Pants & Body

First and Foremost:

What is an Inseam?

Before you can measure the inseam, you have to know where to find it—and this is actually something that a lot of people get wrong.

The inseam is the measurement from the crotch seam (aka the bottom of the crotch), to the leg opening at the bottom of the pant leg, running along the inner part of the pants.

The inseam on blue pair of pants

When you see pants labelled something like “Waist 33, Length 30” the length in question refers to the pants inseam.

And since the most important measurements are the waist size and the length of your pants, measuring the right length is a crucial step if you want to get the right size.

Inseam vs Outseam

Where people sometimes get tripped up is when they confuse the shorter inseam, which is a key measurement taken on the inside of your leg, with what’s called the outseam.

Where as the inseam is measured from the crotch of your pants down to the bottom of the leg, the outseam is the measurement from the top of the waistband down to the bottom of the leg.

As you can probably gather from the name, it runs along the outside of the pant:

The outseam on blue pair of pants

As mentioned above, pant sizes like 34W 32L only refer to the waist measurement and the inseam of a pair of pants, so you don’t really need to worry about the outseam.


Measuring the Inseam

Method A:
Lie Your Pants Flat

Step 1

The best way to find the most accurate measurment is to take an existing pair of pants that fits you well and lie them on a flat surface, like a table or your bed.

To make sure you get the right inseam length, pull the leg of the pant taut, so that it forms a pretty straight line from the crotch area of the pants down to the bottom hem.

Pair of pants lying flat on bed
Step 2

The next step is to grab a flexible tape measure. A soft measuring tape tends to work better than the rigid metal kind you get at the hardware store.

Hold the end of the tape measure at the bottom of the crotch, then run the tape down the length of the inseam, to the bottom of the pant hem.

Measuring tape starting at bottom of crotch
Step 3

To get an accurate inseam measurement, make sure your measuring tape hues closely to the hem.

If it’s too loose, you may mistakenly add an inch or two to the real length, which will throw off the length.

Measuring tape running down inseam of blue jeans

Method B: 
How to Measure the Inseam on Your Body

illustrated gif of man measuring inseam on body while standing
This GIF from The British Tweed Company shows you how to measure inseam while standing up

Laying an existing pair of pants on a smooth surface then measuring the seam line is probably the easiest way to find the perfect length, which is why it’s my personal preference.

(It also has the advantage of working just as well for full-length pants as it does for a pair of shorts.)

But if you want to measure the length of your inseam based on your body measurement, which is also sometimes referred to as the standover height, try this:

Step 1

Stand up straight and let the tape measure hang from the top of your inner thigh, right in front of your crotch.

(And try to resist the urge to make a joke, especially if someone’s around.)

Step 2

Step on the measuring tape and note what marker is underneath your foot.

For instance, if you’re stepping on two inches of measuring tape, then the measurement of your inseam will start at 2.

Step 3

Run the tape up your inseam, note what number corresponds to the bottom of the crotch, then subtract the number of inches you’re standing on at the bottom.


FAQ

What is the inseam on 32 length pants?

As mentioned above, the length referred to on the fit of pants is the inseam length of the pants, so a pair of 32 length pants would have a 32-inch inseam.

What should my inseam be for my height?

There is no standard inseam measurement for any given height, since your personal measurements and proportions might be very different than someone of the exact same height. But, generally speaking, there is a range of inseam length that most people of a certain height will fall into.

Roughly speaking, a person who is:

  • Under 5’4″ (163 cm) may have an inseam of 26-29 inches (66-74 cm)
  • Between 5’4″ and 5’7″ (163-170 cm) may have an inseam of 30-31 inches (76-79 cm)
  • Between 5’8″ and 5’11” (173-180 cm) may have an inseam of 32-33 inches (81-84 cm)
  • Over 6’0″ (183 cm) may have an inseam of 34 inches (86 cm) or more

Again, these are just general guidelines. People with longer torsos may have shorter legs and inseams, and people with shorter torsos may be the exact same height, but have longer inseams.

That’s why it’s so important to measure to make sure you get the right fit.

What does 30 inch inseam mean?

If your pants have 30-inch inseams, it means they measure 30 inches along the inside seam, from the crotch to the bottom hem.

How is inseam measured on jeans?

As with other types of pants, jean inseams are measured from the crotch of the pants down to the bottom hem.

This is true no matter the fit of the pants.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re measuring a straight-leg jean, skinny jeans or any other jean style – you use the same method to find the length of the jean.


More Resources ↓
More Men’s Style Advice from Irreverent Gent:
More Suit Measurements From Around the Web:

About Dave Bowden

Dave Bowden

Founder, Irreverent Gent
Author, Man in Command and Stop Doubting, Start Dating
Writer, Really Wordy Author Bios

Dave Bowden is a style blogger, menswear expert and best-selling author (in Canada—but still!) whose advice on how to look good and live well has been featured in New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Men's Health and more.

When not obsessing over style and self-improvement, he can usually be found spending time with his wonderful wife and two amazing sons, indulging in a hoppy craft beer, or sobbing over the woeful state of Toronto's sports teams.

Check out Dave's Style Story to find out how a chance encounter with his friend's step-dad taught him the value of looking good and living well (don't worry—it's less creepy than it sounds!), or email him at [email protected] if you want to get in touch.

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