Taking Measurements


To ensure accuracy, measure in exactly the same place and under the same conditions each time.

Using a Tape Measure

  1. Use the correct type of tape measure. When taking body measurements, you need to use the correct type of tape measure. You will want to use a soft cloth or flexible plastic/rubber tape measure, such as is used in sewing. Do not use a metal measuring tape such as is used in construction (it will be inaccurate).
  2. Stand correctly. Stand straight, tall, and breathe normally when taking measurements. Some measurements may be taken better when exhaling, some when inhaling (it will depend on the purpose of the measurement). This may be difficult to do yourself, so get a friend to help you.
  3. Measure correctly. You want to be sure that when you measure, the tape is straight and in line with the appropriate body part. For example, for most circumference measurements the tape will need to be parallel to the floor while while lengths will need to be either parallel or perpendicular (based on the line orientation of the body part being measured).
  4. Wear appropriate clothing. You can’t get a very accurate measurement when wearing baggy or thick clothing, so try to wear clothes which fit closely or wear nothing at all. Similarly, breast measurements for women will be most accurate when wearing a well-fitting, unpadded bra.
    • If measuring for clothes tailoring, some measurements will need to be taken with clothing on, such as pants measurements and shoulder measurements.
  5. Know when to measure circumference vs length. Different measurements will need to be either circumference measurements (the measurement around something) or length measurements (the measurement between two straight points). Which is necessary should be obvious but all will be indicated in the instructions below.
  6. Write down your measurements. Make sure that you write down the measurements as you take them, so that you do not forget them and need to take them again.
  1. Measure your upper arm. Measure the circumference around the thickest part of your upper arm, usually at the bicep.
  2. Measure your chest. Measure the circumference around your chest at its widest point. For most men this will be at the armpits, for most women this will be at the nipple line.
  3. Measure your waist. Measure the circumference around your natural waist and your lower waist (two separate measurements). The natural waist is the smallest point of your waist (unlike where clothes’ waistlines are located these days) and is usually an inch or two above your bellybutton. Your lower waist is the widest part of your waist, usually at the bellybutton or just below, where weight is generally gained first.
  4. Measure your hips. Measure the circumference around your hips at the widest point. This will usually be roughly just above the crotch line.
  5. Measure your upper thigh. Measure the circumference around your upper thigh at its widest point. This is usually ½ to 3/4’s of the way up your thigh, from the knee.
  6. Measure your calves. Measure the circumference around your calf at its widest point, usually roughly ¾ of the way up from the ankle
  7. Measure your weight. For weight monitoring, you may include your body weight as a body measurement. This measurement will need to be taken with a scale, either electronic or manual. You can find scales for sale at many stores, or for use at gyms and doctor’s offices.

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