How to Measure Your Waist

Waist size is one of the most important body measurement needed to find the best fitting clothes. It is a basic measurement required for dresses, pants, jeans, shorts, and skirts. Knowing the right measurement of your waist is already the first step to ensuring you buy the right size of clothes that will best suit you.

There are a lot of ways to measure your waist. Some are home tricks to get estimates. Others provide a more strict guide to measure the waist accurately. But how do you know which part to start measuring? Or what size to put? Is it better to give an allowance size, or is it better to stick to the dot?

In this guide, we will provide you with a comprehensive look at everything you need to know about waist measurement. Plus, we’ve compiled different techniques to measure your waist in general and for specific types of clothes. Let’s start?

Ways to Measure the Waist

  1. Using a Measuring Tape
  2. Check the Label of Existing Bottoms (pants, jeans, skirt)
  3. The “Neck Trick” technique
  4. 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 it with a fabric tape measure. Before you measure your waist, make sure you also have a pen and paper ready where 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 the front side 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 it is parallel to the floor and level on each side, not twisted. Make sure it is just situated perfectly on the surface of your skin. Then get the measurements in inches.
Remember: Do not suck in your stomach, or you’ll end up with the wrong measurement. Do not pull the tape so hard that it cuts your skin, and don’t hold it too loose either. It should be placed just above the surface of your skin.

2. Check the Label of Existing Bottoms

The most convenient way if you can’t find an actual tape measure is to refer to the label of your existing pants, shorts, skirts, or jeans for your waist measurement.

The American pants are normally measured in width and length. You will see two numbers on the label inside your pants, like 26/24. The first number is the waist measurement. In the example, your waist size is 26. Be careful in reusing existing sizes though because this might not accurately reflect your most updated size, which could be smaller or bigger.

3. The “Neck Trick” Technique

Another way to know if a pair of jeans will fit you are to wrap or hold the waistband of the pants around your neck. It is a very common practice to associate the size of the neck size to the size of the waist. The waist measurement is equal to twice the circumference of the neck.

Without trying the pants on, this is the easiest way to determine if the size will fit. If both edges of the waistband meet at the back of the neck, chances are, the pants will fit your size. This works for most people, but if in doubt, grab some tape measure to be sure.

Remember: This technique is a quick-fix or only done when you’re in a hurry. If you have time to spare, the traditional tape measure technique is still the most advisable.

4. Measure the Pants that Best Fits

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.

How to Measure Waist for Babies

  • To measure your baby’s waist, put your baby in a lying down position.
  • Find the narrowest part of the baby’s torso, which is normally below the lowest rib and above the hip, just above the navel.
  • Wrap the measuring tape at the middle point. Take the measurement side to side directly at the waistline. Depending on the style of clothes, adjust the measurement for a tight or loose measurement.
  • Jot down the measurements and refer to our baby clothing size guide for specific sizes.

How to Measure Waist for Children

Just like in measuring the waist of babies, measuring the waist of children is a little more difficult than that for adults since you 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 in the narrowest part of your child’s torso.
  • Put the starting side of the tape in the front of the body, and then wrap the measuring 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 you if you want it to be tight fitted or loose. If you want it to be tightly fitted, measure on the dot but if not, give an inch allowance. Below are some waist measurement tips on basic pants/jeans, suits, and dresses.

How to Measure Waist for Pants

Pants in the US uses two sizing standards: the American W/L sizing and the US standard letter sizing. In American pants sizing, 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 active wears and other stretchy pants.

To find the right size of your pants, measure both the size of your waist and your hips. Nowadays, the measurement needed will depend on the pants style. For high cut/high waist pants, the waist measurement is needed but for low cut 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 the perfect fit pants for a man’s suit, wear your dress shoes while measuring the needed waist to find out the right length you need to consider.

The hip 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 do the basic tape measurement technique for men by locating the beginning edge of the measuring tape and looping it along with your waistline which is slightly above the hip bone and back to your starting point for an accurate measurement of the waist.

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 terms of dresses, three major body parts are needed to be measured, the bust, the waist and the hips. These measurements must all be measured in inches.

To figure out the right dress size, pick the largest size among the three measurements, as that will be your dress size. If you prefer the dress to be extra fitted, just have the other parts tailored like bust or hips.

To measure your waist for dresses, stand in front of a mirror then bend on 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.