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inseam measurement
outer portion
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baggy pants
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How To Measure Inseams On Pants And Shorts
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How to Measure Inseams on Pants And Shorts

With the advent of online shopping as the solution for many people wanting a wide selection of clothes at their fingertips, there is a great need to know some basics about proper sizing and fit. This is particularly important when it comes to pants and shorts. High water pants bring stares (even if they ARE in style) while baggy pants look unprofessional. Your typical online shopping scenario probably plays itself out like this: you visit online store; you navigate to the pants/shorts sections. You narrow the selection down by size. At that point, the specificity ends. You now believe that with the selection of “Shop by Size: Size 8” those pants are going to have an almost custom fit when they arrive in the mail. So imagine your surprise when you slip into them and discover they drown your feet in a 4 inch pool of fabric. Back to the store they go. If you can identify with this scenario then keep reading on how to properly measure inseams for both pants and shorts.

First of all we should establish what an inseam actually is. In short, it is the stitching that binds the front and back pieces of the pants or shorts. It is measured along the inside of the leg, from the crotch to a point on the leg/foot near the floor. It is not the outer portion toward the armpit which is called an outseam. It should be noted that while the outseam can be used for measuring pant and short length, there are variables that make it less accurate than the inseam measurement.

For a proper measurement, you want to use a tape measure and be sure to stand fully erect with your legs only slightly spread. Because many of us prefer different lengths in different styles, more than one measurement should be taken down.

For standard slack length hitting with a slight break over the shoe in front and to reach the juncture of the shoe welt in the back: PUT THE SHOES ON THAT YOU’LL LIKELY BE WEARING. Start with the beginning of the tape at the crotch and measure down to the juncture of the shoe welt. If you are wearing high heels, decide where you want your pants to stop along the heel. Getting someone to help you is advised.

For trendy styles like ankle-length slacks: For pant styles that are slightly shorter than standard, follow the steps above but take another measurement just above the ankle bone. Having the two measurements can help you make a selection for any length in between as styles and trends change.

For shorts: While I should say up front that sometimes it can be a challenge to get concise info on the length of a pair of shorts you’ve spotted online, having your inseam length on hand can save you tons of time (and return costs!) To get the inseam measurement for your shorts, simply follow the same steps as measuring pant length except that you measure only to the part of the thigh you want your shorts to touch. There are more detailed measurements that can be taken such as thigh width, thigh opening, and crotch depth, but typically this information won’t be available for your everyday online retail purchase.

Your pants or shorts may shrink if you choose to wash and dry them. If this is a concern for you, you may want to add ½-1 inch to the measurement when buying. Another easy alternative to getting your measurements is to find a pair of pants and shorts that fit just right and use their dimensions as guides for your purchase. But be careful when doing this. The accuracy of the results can be affected by the method you choose to measure, if you measure while wearing them or if you measure them on a flat surface. However you decide to go about it, knowing your inseam will equip you with one of the many tools out there to make your shopping experience hassle-free.


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