Waist size is one of the most important body measurements needed to find the best fitting clothes. It is a basic measurement required for dresses, pants, jeans, shorts, and skirts. Knowing the accurate measurement of your waist is already the first step toward ensuring you buy the right size of clothes that will best suit you. But how do you know which body part to start measuring? Read our guide!
How to Measure Waist
The natural waist is generally the narrowest part of the torso, which is typically located just above the belly button, not at the navel. So, to measure your waist:
- Stand up straight and breathe normally.
- Find the narrowest part of your waist, usually about 1-2 inches above your belly button.
- Wrap a soft measuring tape around this part, making sure it’s not too tight or too loose, and is parallel to the floor.
- Read the measurement on the tape immediately after you’ve exhaled normally.
How to Measure Waist without measuring tape
f you don’t have a measuring tape, you can still measure your waist using a piece of string and a ruler or yardstick. Here’s how:
- Stand straight and breathe normally.
- Locate the narrowest part of your waist, usually about 1-2 inches above your belly button.
- Wrap the piece of string around your waist at this point, making sure it’s not too tight or too loose, and is parallel to the floor.
- Mark or cut the string where it meets the end that’s wrapped around your waist.
- Lay the string flat next to a ruler or yardstick, and note the length.
- That length is your waist measurement.
Ways to Measure the Waist
- Using a Measuring Tape
- Check the Label of Existing Bottoms (pants, jeans, skirt)
- Measure the Pants that Best Fits
1. Using a Measuring Tape
The best way to get the most accurate measurement of your waist is to measure with a fabric tape measure. Before you measure your waist, make sure you also have a pen and paper ready, so you can write down your measurements.
Here’s How to Take it:
- Wear a tight shirt or lift your shirt before and while measuring your waist. If you are measuring your own waist, stand in front of a mirror so that you can correctly position the measuring tape.
- The waist is just above your belly button, which is between your bottom rib and above your hips.
- Hold one side of the tape measure in front of your body, then wrap it around the narrowest part of the waist until it overlaps the starting side of the tape measure.
- Make sure the tape is parallel to the floor and level on each side, not twisted. Make sure it is situated just on the surface of your skin. Then get the measurements in inches.
2. Check the Label of Existing Bottoms
If you can’t find an actual tape measure, the most convenient alternative is to refer to the label of your existing pants, shorts, skirts, or jeans for your waist measurement.
American pants are normally measured in waist size and inseam length. You will see two numbers on the label inside your pants, e.g., 26/24. The first number is the waist measurement. In the example, your waist size is 26. Be careful in buying your previous sizes because this might not accurately reflect your most updated size, which could be smaller or larger.
3. Measure the Pants That Fit Best
Another easy way to find your waist measurement is to actually measure the size of the pants that fit you perfectly. To do this, measure the waistband of the pants with a cloth or plastic measuring tape. The size of the waistband is also the size of your waist. Make sure to measure it in inches and record. (Don’t merely take the labeled measurement on faith – the garment may have shrunk or stretched.)
How to Measure Children’s Waist Size
Just as in measuring the waist of babies, measuring the waist of children is a bit more difficult than that of adults, since you might have to adjust to the kids’ movements. Try your best to follow these steps to get the measurement from the right areas.
- To measure your child’s waist, have your little one stand straight with feet close to each other and hands raised.
- Pull up your child’s shirt and position the tape measure at the narrowest part of its torso.
- Hold one side of the measuring tape directly in front of the body, then wrap the tape around the natural waist above the belly button until it overlaps the beginning side of the tape on the front side of the body.
- Take the measurements in inches.
- Check our children’s clothing size charts.
How to Measure Waist for Pants, Suits, and Dresses
The measurement of your waist depends on the style of pants, jeans, suit, or dress which you prefer. It also depends on if you want the clothes to fit tightly or loosely. If you want a tight fit, measure on the dot but if not, give an inch allowance. Below are some waist measurement tips for basic pants/jeans, suits, and dresses.
How to Measure Waist for Pants
Pants in the US use two sizing standards: the American W/L sizing and the US standard letter sizing. In American pants sizes, the W is the waist size, while the L is the length of the inseam. The W always goes before the L.
The US Standard Letter sizing uses labels from XS to 4XL, and so on, which can be found in activewear and other stretchy pants.
To find the right size of your pants, measure both the size of your waist and your hips. Nowadays, the To find your right size in pants, measure both the size of your waist and your hips. Nowadays, the measurement needed will depend on the pants style. For high rise/high waist pants, the waist measurement is needed, but for low rise pants or those types of pants which sit lower on the hips, the hip measurement is usually required. For mid-waist pants, your waist size is also more important.
How to Measure Waist for Suits
To get perfectly fitting pants for a man’s suit, wear your dress shoes while measuring the waist and inseam to find the exact size you need to consider.
The hip circumference is usually more important to measure in the pants for a suit, but getting the size of the waist is often still advisable depending on the style.
To get the measurement, just use the basic measuring tape reading for men. Grasping one end of the tape, loop the other around your waistline, which is slightly above the hip bone, and back to the starting point for an accurate waist measurement.
You may add one to two inches on the waist, depending on if you want a tight or loose size.
Check our suit size guide for more information.
How to Measure Waist for Dress
In sizing for dresses, three major body parts must be measured – bust, waist, and hips. These must all be measured in inches.
To figure out the right size, pick the largest size among the three measurements because that will be your dress size. If you prefer the dress to be custom fitted, just have the other parts tailored to fit the remaining body parts.
To measure your waist for dresses, stand in front of a mirror, then bend to one side at the waist. A crease will form while you are bent to the side, and that is where you will measure your natural waist.
Where should the measuring tape be placed to accurately measure waist size?
The measuring tape should be wrapped around the narrowest part of your waist, usually located about 1-2 inches above your belly button. For more details, check this guide on how to measure.
How can I measure my waist size if I don’t have a measuring tape available?
If you don’t have a measuring tape, you can use a piece of string to wrap around your waist, then measure the length of the string using a ruler or a yardstick. To get step-by-step instructions, follow this guide.
How tight should the measuring tape or string be when measuring the waist?
The measuring tape or string should be snug but not tight. It should not compress your skin or body. For a comprehensive explanation, check this detailed guide.
Should I inhale or exhale when taking waist measurements?
You should exhale normally when taking waist measurements. It’s important to not hold your breath or suck in your stomach. For more tips, refer to this measurement guide.