Wardrobe 101

Be A Better Shopper. Measure Your Clothes!

And those of your loved ones…

Happy day, reader dearest!

No, this post is not some cruel joke to make you rue your Thanksgiving plans for an extra slice of pie! It’s really meant to be a help as we head into the holiday shopping season. Yes, a help!

When I talk about measuring your clothes, I mean just that. Garment Measurements. The length or width of a particular garment in a particular size. Garment measurements are NOT a size chart! Knowing your garment measurements:

(1) Helps you understand your body and what clothes look (and fit you) best.

Knowledge is power! And data is where it all starts. Now don’t start getting all judgy on yourself. These numbers aren’t you. They do not define you. They are merely numbers that reflect the way you like your clothes to fit.

(2) Makes you a smarter shopper.

On-line, IRL, and especially thrift and consignment! Especially if you have a non-standard body (That would be almost all of us.)! Many resellers post garment measurements. AND garment measurements are found on company websites more frequently than even five years ago. If you don’t see them, call Customer Service. They often have access to the garment measurements of different sizes which lets you know which is the better choice for you.

(3) Saves you time shopping and money on returns.

Especially now when so many stores do not allow you to try on garments in the dressing room! How are you supposed to know if there’s even a chance of those jeans fitting? Armed with your trusty garment measurements and a pocket tape measure, you will know whether you can get those new jeans over your booty! Or whether that tee fits you or your son better. Five minutes with Customer Service can save a ton of heartache, not to mention return shipping fees!

Taking Garment Measurements

Take a favorite top, sweater, pair of jeans, trousers, and dress for this experiment. Choose ones that fit you well! They should be comfortable AND make you look great. Please don’t select those baggy jeans that make you look twice your size and fall down without a belt. (Unless you are looking for an example of what-not-to-look-for.)

I use both a soft tape measure and a small metal one that is easy to carry in my bag. I like having both inch and centimeter measurements, especially when shopping on-line.

Record Those Numbers! In a place you can find them easily. On your phone, perhaps? Or an index card you keep in your handbag… Whatever format works best for you, use that.

Handy Top Measurements

Generally, resellers measure tops under the arms, length from the shoulder to the hem and arm length from the shoulder seam down to the hem or cuff. The bust actually measures a bit lower than across the armpits. If the top has darts, measure the bust across the darted area.

NOTE: Men’s shirt sleeve length is measured from the center back, not from the shoulder!

Handy Trouser/Jean Measurements

Trousers and jeans can be tricky. As you can see, measuring the waist across gives you a very different measurement than going around!

Besides the waist, you will also want the hip and inseam measurements. Inseam is simply the length of the inner seam (See where the name comes from?) of the trousers from the crotch to the hem. Hips are usually measured around 9 inches below the waist. Across the bottom of the zipper is a great guideline because that’s where trousers will be widest to allow you to pull them up!

The last trouser measurement you may want (Especially if you have a fabulous booty!) is the rise. That is the measurement from the crotch to the top of the waistband. You will want to look for trousers with a dip in the front and more coverage in the back.

Handy Dress Measurements

Dress measurements are similar to tops. Across under the arms is most common, across the darted area for the bust measurement. The bottom hem or sweep will be curved and a little tricky to measure, but as an inch won’t make too much difference in fit (except in a wiggle dress) you should be alright with “close-enough.” Hips are (again) measured like jeans, about 9 inches below the waist. And sleeve length is measured like a top from the shoulder seam to the cuff.

The last dress measurement that can vary is the dress length… Why? Because different people measure it from different starting points! Some measure it from the back of the neck to the bottom hem. Others measure from the shoulder seam to the bottom hem. There isn’t usually isn’t more than about an inch difference between the two. If the back has a dramatic dip or vee, they will measure from the shoulder.

And that’s about it! Remember that you will need to double (X2) these numbers (except inseam and rise) if customer service is giving you garment measurements. Their numbers aren’t taken flat, but measured around. That’s it! Not hard is it? Try it! Grab a few of your favorites (And a non-favorite, too, if you still have some in your closet) and get measuring. Then next time something at the store catches your eye, break out your trusty tape measure and check it. And let me know what you learned!

Stylishly yours,


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