What's an Inseam? A Measuring Guide
“Inseam'' is one of those words you may hear when getting a suit tailored or an item of clothing repaired... Or when your friends and family get you on Queer Eye and five strangers start making jokes about how your wardrobe should fit. It’s a term that we “know” but we don’t really know if you know what we mean. But knowing your inseam helps you properly dress for your body type. So, it’s important
Whether you’re new to the fashion world and want to brush up on your terminology, or if you’re looking to impress the store assistants with your pants knowledge, here’s a full breakdown of what an inseam is, why it matters, and how you measure it.
What is an Inseam?
Let’s get down to it. Literally. An inseam is the length between your crotch down to your ankle bone. Essentially, it’s the distance of your inner leg. The outside of your leg, i.e. the distance from the top of your hip to the hem of your pants, is, you guessed it, your outseam. Both measurements are typically taken with a measuring tape, and recorded in inches.
Why Does the Inseam Matter?
At the risk of stating the obvious, if you want your clothing to look and feel good, it all comes down to the fit. Knowing your inseam helps you find pants that compliment your body’s shape.
A correctly measured and fitted inseam will mean that your pants sit and hang right. If an inseam is too long, your pants will bunch at the bottom or trail along the floor. So, unless you’re purposely channeling your inner Sonny Bono, your inseam should be accurate.
How Do You Measure Your Inseam?
Luckily, you don’t need to go to a tailor to measure your inseam. Simply use a soft tape measure (one that will curve and bend so it properly aligns with your inner leg height). Start from the lowest point of your crotch, keep the tape measure close to your leg, then pull the tape down to the bottom part of your ankle bone. Aim to measure down to the point where you prefer your pants to sit around your feet/ankles.
It might be easier, and more comfortable, to ask someone else to take the measurements, so that the final result is as accurate as possible.
Don’t be tempted to guess your inseam—no matter how good your estimations are, it’s not worth getting pants made that don’t fit well. Measuring an inseam only takes about 45 seconds, is very easy, and is well worth the results on your wardrobe.
How Do Inseams Differ Among Styles?
Naturally, your individual style will impact what kind of inseam you want. You’ll still need to measure from your crotch and down your inner leg, but if you prefer pants that sit slightly higher and cut at the ankle, you can end your measurement at the ankle or before it.
Remember to factor in the type of shoes that you normally wear. If you like high-top shoes, you may want a shorter inseam. If you wear sandals, longer works better. Also, think about your body shape: if you have a longer torso and shorter legs, you don’t want pants that collect at the bottom, so ensure your inseam keeps your pants seamlessly straight to lengthen your lower body.
If you’re unsure about what inseam is best for you, we recommend visiting a tailor or asking a friend whose style you admire for some honest advice.
You deserve clothes that fit right and feel good, so it’s worth putting in even just a little bit of time to measure your inseam. You’ll thank us later.