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How to Measure Yourself for a Suit

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Authored by Kimberly Back in Clothing
Published on 07-10-2009

An ill-fitting suit can make a man look unprofessional and sloppy. If the suit is too small then he will look like he took a tumble in the dryer, and if it is too large he will look like he is playing dress up in his father’s clothes. Before you purchase a new suit take a few moments to properly measure yourself. Follow these simple steps and you will save yourself a great deal of time and money.

You will need the following:

  • Fabric measuring tape
  • An assistant
  • Paper and pen
  • Properly fitting dress slacks, shirt, jacket, and shoes (This does not mean jeans, t-shirt, windbreaker, and sneakers. You should wear pieces from a suit that you already own, or wear other professional dress clothing.)

Measuring for the jacket
Chest (wear shirt): Lift your arms and have your assistant run the measuring tape under your arms, and around your chest and shoulder blades. The measuring tape should be approximately at nipple level. Then, lower your arms and continue to breathe normally, but do not overly inflate your chest. You should be able to place a finger between your body and the tape.
Jacket waist (wear shirt): Measure around your stomach right under your ribcage. You should allow room for yourself to move and breathe, so don’t make the measuring tape too tight.
Shoulders (wear jacket): Your assistant should measure seam to seam, from your left shoulder to your right shoulder, across your back.
Sleeve length (wear jacket): Measure from the shoulder seam to the wrist joint at the base of your thumb for an ideal fit. You should measure each arm separately, since one arm may be slightly longer than the other.
Jacket length (wear jacket): Start at the top shoulder seam next to the collar and measure down to where you would like the jacket length to be. You can use your favorite jacket as a guide, or you can measure down to where your knuckles touch against your leg, with your arms hanging down.

Measuring for the pants
Outer leg (wear dress slacks and shoes): Measure from the top of the waist on the pants down to where you want the suit pants to end. Wearing dress shoes is essential, because you want to take into account how the pants fit over the shoes. Measuring tape should be held tight.
Inner leg or inseam (wear dress slacks and shoes): Start at the base of the crotch of your pants and measure down to where you want the pants to end. Measuring tape should be held tight.
Pants-seat (wear dress slacks): This is the measurement around the hips. Make sure that the tape isn’t too tight and measure all the way around your hips and butt.
Waist (wear shirt and dress slacks): Measure around your natural waist, and keep the tape comfortable. Also keep in mind where you like for your pants to sit on your hips, because the suit maker may ask for that information.

Measuring yourself for a suit is simple if you follow these easy steps, and get an assistant to help you. Write down your measurements as you go, so that you don’t have to try and remember them later. Keep in mind these measurements are the essentials, however, suit makers and tailors may ask for additional measurements like your neck, thigh, knee, ankle, and total height.

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