These Are The Measurements You Need To Know Before Buying Clothes Online

Ever bought something online and it didn’t fit?

It was tagged as size L, and you normally take an L, so it should fit. Right?
Not necessarily.

Alpha sizing – sometimes also called international sizing – is more of a guide than a definitive chart. It’s a loose idea at best. Even something like a suit jacket in numbered sizing (think 42R, 44L and whatnot, or metric sizing like 104R) isn’t a guarantee of fit.

Some brands are pretty inaccurate to the size numbers. I’ve had a jacket that was metric sized as a 102R, but in reality it had enough space in the chest and waist to take my 112cm chest. So you can’t rely on manufacturer size titles.

What this means is you need to be able to correspond to a more detailed size chart. Or, if you’re buying on a platform like eBay, you need to know a few key measurements to get a better picture of whether the item you’re considering is going to fit you or not.

You Don’t Need To Know Them All…

One key point to know is that you don’t need to remember every single precise measurement of your body. You’re buying a ready to wear garment, which – unless you’re lucky – you should expect to make some minor alterations to in order to have an ideal fit.

Best practise is to write down these measurements somewhere you’ll remember to find them, and have them written in both inches and centimetres.

…But Here Are The Essentials

I’ll split these into torso and lower body measurements.

Torso (Shirts and Jackets)

For shirts and jackets, it’s important to know both chest size and sleeve length. It’s also handy to know your waist size, taken from your natural waist – not your hips! The natural waist is the taper point halfway between your chest and your hips.

The reason it’s important to know your waist size when shopping for jackets is that ideally, the button stance should sit the fastening point in line with your natural waist for a maximum waist suppression effect.

For jackets in particular, you’ll need to know the measurement across your shoulders. If you like an extended shoulder, and you have a jacket that you know fits ideally, you can just take this measurement from your favourite jacket. I would also recommend learning your jacket length from measuring your favourite jacket as well.

To reiterate so far, you’ll need to know the following at a minimum in order to buy something that either fits or can be altered to fit:

Chest size
Sleeve length
Across the shoulders
Jacket length

Lower Body

The most important lower body measurement is your waist size. As with your measurement taken for your upper body, this waist size should be measured from your natural waist.

It’s also important to know the circumference of your thighs. The third imperative measurement is your inseam length. These two will dictate how wide and how long your pants need to be, at minimum. You can go wider and have it tapered later, but you often can’t lengthen or widen your trousers.

Lastly, it’s important to have an idea of how high of a rise you want on your trousers. It’s easiest to determine your ideal front rise by measuring the front rise of your best fitting pair of trousers – measure from the waistband to where the crotch seam meets the back seam. Otherwise, you can use a soft measuring tape and measure the length between your natural waist and the bottom of your crotch.

Additionally, I recommend knowing your preferred leg opening circumference. This determines how straight – or tapered – the cut of the trouser leg will be.

To reiterate, for buying trousers you’ll want to know these measurements:

Waist size
Thigh circumference
Inseam length
Front rise
Leg opening

How Do You Obtain These Measurements?

If you don’t have garments to measure, obtaining some of these measurements could pose a challenge. However, several of them can be obtained just by measuring yourself with a soft measuring tape.

The best option, otherwise, is to go to a tailor and get yourself measured up. This is the best way to get measurements, and the most likely to be accurate.

There You Have It!

These are the measurements I use when thinking about buying clothes online. It’s enabled me to make many successful purchases from eBay and other online stores.

A parting note: often you’ll find something that fits in some measurements but not in all. In these cases, try to nail the most important measurements – like chest size – and just make sure that ones like sleeve or trouser length are longer, rather than shorter.

Hope this helps you out,

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With content features ranging from appearances on popular menswear hubs (The Rake, StyleForum, Put This On) to French perfume newsletters and university course readings, Sam is a writer, designer and enthusiast in the fields of menswear and fragrance.

3 thoughts on “These Are The Measurements You Need To Know Before Buying Clothes Online

  1. Thank you for this post, Sam! I can’t even emphasize how important that is. I feel like a lot of people wear the size that doesn’t really fit them but once it does — you can tell that it looks a lot better.

    Liked by 1 person

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