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How to measure clothes for Ebay -- Know what fits!

Updated on February 7, 2008

When you buy clothes without trying them on, it helps to know measurements. The easiest way to find out what will fit you is to measure your own clothes.

Start by laying out the garment on a table or (clean) floor. Use a standard tailor’s tape measure, or even a piece of string. Some tape measures are retractable. Buy one of these and you’ll find it’s handy to carry whenever you shop for anything.

If all you have is a ruler, don’t lay it directly on the garment. It’s hard to get accurate measurements this way. Instead, use a piece of string or ribbon to measure the garment, and then measure that with the ruler.

Following are some important fitting measurements:

Collar -- A collar should always be measured on the inside of the collar band. Open the shirt and flatten the collar as much as possible. Start with the tape where the button is stitched. Measure all the way to the far end of the buttonhole. (When the collar is buttoned, the button isn’t in the middle of the buttonhole, it usually pulls all the way to the end.)

Chest -- With the garment open, measure straight across the back, from the armpit to armpit. Double this number to get the chest measurement.

Sometimes a jacket is cut so that the front is fuller than the back. This is common in women’s clothing and portly men’s clothing. For absolute accuracy, first measure across the back. Then, starting from the same place in the armpit, measure the front panel across to the button, and the other front panel across to the buttonhole.

Waist -- The best way to find the waist is to lay out the garment and look for where it gets smallest. On men’s shirts this is usually just below the fifth button. On women’s clothing it could be anywhere. When you find the waistline, measure it using the same method as the chest.

A useful additional measurement, especially for women’s clothing, is how far down the waist occurs. To get this number, just run your tape from the waist straight up to the shoulder seam.

Hip -- This is an important measurement in women’s clothing, and refers not to the hipbone, but to the fullest part of the thigh. If you can’t see this area just by looking at the garment, then estimate the hipline at about 10” below the waist.

Yoke -- Often overlooked, this measurement reveals a lot about the size. The yoke is the area across the top and back of the shoulders. Sometimes on shirts and jackets there is an actual separate yoke piece. Other times the yoke is just part of the front and back. It’s best if you can measure the yoke while the garment is being worn. If you don’t have someone to measure it on you, lay the garment out carefully and smooth the shoulder area. Run your tape from shoulder seam to shoulder seam, across the top of the shoulders and the back of the neck. There is a slight curve to this area, so don’t try to pull the tape straight like you do when measuring other areas. Don’t be tempted to just measure the yoke seam straight across the back. The true yoke is usually larger than this seam.

Length -- Measure in the middle of the back, straight down. Start at the shoulder seam. Don’t include the collar as part of the length.

Arm length -- Measure from the shoulder seam straight down the outside of the sleeve. This number, plus half of the yoke, is the true sleeve length. (On most adult clothes, total sleeve length is somewhere between 28 and 38 inches.)

Note: sometimes people will try to indicate sleeve length by measuring the underside of the sleeve. This number by itself is virtually meaningless, since it varies with the size of the armhole.)

Pants Waist -- With interfacings, belt loops and the zipper, it’s hard to measure a pants waist from the outside. You really have to open the pants and lay the measuring tape all the way around the inside of the waist. Measure only to the button or clasp, not to the edge of the fabric.

Inseam -- This is the measurement from the crotch straight down to the end of the leg. (Modest tailor’s tip: Most people’s wrist is about crotch level. If you want to get an idea of inseam without putting your hand by someone’s crotch, try measuring from their wrist down to their shoes instead.)

Outseam -- This is the measurement from the waist down the outside of the leg. If the pants have an unusually large waistband, don’t include it in your measurements.

Rise -- The outseam minus the inseam gives you the seat area. The rise lets you know whether you’re dealing with a high waist or hiphuggers.


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    • profile image

      Olivia 8 months ago

      Great advice. Will use this with the combination of (Free Template tool) to have all measurements reflected in my listings.

    • profile image

      Kim Jolie 5 years ago

      Thanks Flexy,

      You've write good in this article. Women always have cloths measuring issue.

    • cityalice profile image

      cityalice 5 years ago

      This is a great resource. Sometimes those in rural areas don't have many options for shopping, and you'll find many more options online. Good to know how to find the right fit for clothing.

    • profile image

      milawalker 5 years ago

      This is the tricky part when you are buying clothes online. You can't fit them, that is why it is important to know your exact size for all types of clothes.

      custom suits dallas(

    • profile image

      John Pearson 6 years ago

      Very good hub, I never knew people where having trouble for clothes measurement. The measure chart of is quite easy to understand as buying clothes without trying them on is quite uncomfortable for some.

    • profile image

      Dianne Robbins 6 years ago

      diagrams would make this article more helpful. Thank you.

    • TinaLynn profile image

      TinaLynn 6 years ago

      Thanks. This is really handy for all eBayers, both buyers and sellers.

    • profile image

      ross 7 years ago

      thanks a lot. this is very informative most especially for sellers.

    • wademcmaster profile image

      wademcmaster 7 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for the handy tips!

    • profile image

      Ryan 8 years ago

      Try You can enter your measurements for arm/upper arm length, leg/upper leg length, torso measurement, and about 10 other measurements. An Ebay seller can link their Ebay item to so users can compare their measurements to the clothing measurements of an item there are viewing on Ebay. Really helpful website.

    • profile image

      London1 8 years ago

      Great Tip! Thanks so much. I'll be referring friends to this hub.

    • Sexy jonty profile image

      Sexy jonty 8 years ago from India

      Very well written hub .....

      very much informative ......

      Thank you very much for your great hub, for good advice, good wishes and support. Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us.

    • profile image

      emily 8 years ago

      thank you so much for this! i have this bookmarked for easy reference.

    • kiwi91 profile image

      kiwi91 8 years ago from USA

      Great hub! I'm including a link to this on a hub in progress on selling clothing on ebay.