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.
There are a lot of ways to measure your waist. Some are at-home tricks to get estimates. Others provide a stricter guide to measuring the waist accurately. But how do you know which body part to start measuring? Or what size to put? Is it better to allow some room and choose a larger size, or is it better to follow the precise measurement to the tee?
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. Ready to begin?
Ways to Measure the Waist
- Using a Measuring Tape
- Check the Label of Existing Bottoms (pants, jeans, skirt)
- The “Neck Trick” technique
- 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. The “Neck Trick” Technique
Another way to determine if a pair of jeans will fit you is to wrap or hold the waistband of the pants around your neck. It is a very common practice to correlate the size of the neck with the size of the waist. The waist measurement is often equal to twice the circumference of the neck.
Without trying the pants on, this is a quick and easy way to find out if the pants will fit. If both edges of the waistband meet while closely encircling the neck, chances are, the pants will fit. This works for most people, but if in doubt, grab a tape measure to be sure.
4. 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.