How to Measure Chest Size in 7 Steps

How to measure chest size: man wearing suit

Written by Jennifer Cheng

Men look their best in suits and shirts that fit. But to ensure that you invest in the right clothing, you need to know your chest size. Knowing how to measure chest width will help with finding the best fitting shirts for your body measurements. We also have a separate guide on how to measure sleeve length. These measurements, along with sleeve length and figuring out your neck size, is essential to find the best slim fit dress shirt.

Once you figure out your chest measurement, moving on to the waist measurement will also be a breeze. Fortunately, measuring your chest size isn’t a difficult task when you know what you’re doing. 

In this guide, we’re going to show you everything you need to know about  obtaining chest size for men and how to get the most accurate measurement. Please note that you will need a measuring tape, so be sure to have one handy before you get started.

Importance of Chest Measurement for Men how to measure chest size for men helpful infographic from nimble made

Chest measurement is an important factor to consider when selecting a men's dress shirt. The chest measurement determines the size of the shirt and ensures a comfortable fit. If the shirt is too tight in the chest, it may restrict movement and cause discomfort, while a shirt that is too loose can appear baggy and unprofessional. If you're looking for a new suit, use this online suit size calculator to find an estimated size online.

Properly fitting shirts should allow for a full range of motion without pulling or bunching in the chest area. In addition to ensuring comfort, a well-fitted shirt can also enhance the wearer's appearance by creating a streamlined and tailored silhouette.

When purchasing a shirt, it's important to refer to the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer and measure your chest size to ensure the best fit possible. It's also a good idea to try on the shirt before purchasing, if possible, to ensure that it fits properly and meets your needs in terms of comfort and style. The same emphasis exists for finding the right fit for your waist size, sleeve length, and neck size.

Clothing brands like Nimble Made have an exciting approach to the traditional chest measurements. Nimble Made is a men's slim fit shirt brand that sizes its fit through height and weight, or body mass index. If you're looking for an alternative way on how to measure chest size, check out their bestselling white dress shirt for men and use their fit calculator on the website.

 Measuring Chest Size


Now, we compiled the perfect resource for measuring your chest if you want to stick to the traditional method. As you can see, we’ve broken down this simple task into seven easy steps. By following our helpful guide, you can be sure to achieve a great-looking, comfortable fit by using a fabric measuring tape.

measuring tape

Step 1: Get a Tape Measure

If you’re handy with tools, you might be inclined to grab the tape measure from your tool belt. But that isn’t the kind of tape measure you want to use when measuring your chest width. 

Rather, we’re talking about a measuring tape that is made specifically for measuring fabric. They are highly flexible and made of cloth or plastic so that they can easily bend for more accurate measurements.

Can’t find a fabric tape measure? No problem! You can instead use some string and a ruler. You’ll see what we mean by this in the steps to follow.

When you have your fabric tape measure or string in hand, proceed to the next step to get started with measuring chest width.

Step 2: Ask for Help to Measure Chest Width (Optional)

You might need some assistance with the following steps, so consider enlisting the help of someone you know. Figuring out your chest width measurement, just like with sleeve length and natural waist, can always be efficient with a helping hand. In fact, you’re more likely to get an accurate measurement if somebody else is holding the tape measure for you.

But if you don’t have anyone to provide assistance, you can still get acceptable chest measurements on your own. 

If you are measuring your chest width by yourself, do so in front of a mirror. This will help you keep your tape parallel while you get your measurement. 

mens suits

Step 3: Remove Your Shirt

Remove your t shirt before attempting to measure your chest size. Leaving it on will cause the measurement to be longer, thus affecting your true chest measurement. When ready, wrap the tape measure around your upper torso.

You want the tape to be right below your underarms. Then, secure the measuring tape in place along the widest part of your torso.

If you are the one doing the measuring, remember to keep the numbers on the tape turned outward. This will allow you to see the measurement in the mirror. 

Step 4: Hold Tape Measure Parallel 

Before you remove the tape, double-check your reflection to make sure the tape isn’t twisted at any point. The tape needs to be taut around your torso, as the slightest bend or wrinkle will cause your measurement to be off.

Moreover, the tape must be evenly positioned around your torso at all times. This means that you don’t want one section of tape lower or higher than the rest. To aid you in this, check your reflection to make sure the tape is parallel with the ground.

If you have to, reposition the tape until you get an even, level placement. 

Step 5: Stand Naturally

 The way you stand is essential in getting an accurate measurement. For example, you want to stand in the most natural way possible. Be sure not to flex your muscles or puff out your chest.

Doing so will serve to add just enough to the total measurement to throw it off. Thus, your t shirt or suit won’t fit as well as it should. The same principle applies when taking measurements for your hip bone, natural waist, and bust size.

Step 6: Locate Fullest Part of Chest 

To locate the fullest part of the chest, identify the area across the nipple line or the widest part of the chest. It's important to avoid measuring too high up toward the collarbone or too low down toward the abdomen. Once you've identified the appropriate area, position the measuring tape accordingly.

Begin by holding one end of the measuring tape at the fullest part of your chest, ensuring that the tape is parallel to the ground and wraps around your chest and shoulder blades horizontally. It's crucial to make sure the tape is snug against your skin without being too tight or too loose. It should lie flat against the body without indenting the skin.

Step 7: Record the Chest Measurement

When taking the measurement, exhale gently to relax your chest muscles. Without pulling the tape too tightly, wrap it around your chest, keeping it parallel to the ground. Check that the tape is level and not twisted, and hold it firmly but comfortably around your chest and shoulder blades without compressing it.

Note the measurement in inches or centimeters where the end of the tape meets the starting point. It's also advisable to repeat this process for accuracy. Take multiple measurements and use the average for the most precise result. If possible, have someone assist you to ensure the soft tape measure is positioned correctly and the measurement is accurate.

Step 8: Reminders on How to Measure Chest Size

When recording your measurement, avoid looking down at the tape. Rather, you want to view it from the mirror. Tilting your head down to look can cause the tape to slip ever so slightly, throwing off your measurement.

If you want your garment to fit loosely, be sure to add two inches to your measurement. Using the example above, your measurement would be 50 inches rather than 48. 

When buying clothing, it’s important to round up your number. So if you measured your chest size at 47 7/8 inches, you would round up to 48, not 47. Take into account any specific sizing guidelines or recommendations provided by the brand. By following these steps and taking accurate chest measurements, you'll be better equipped to select a well-fitted men's suit that enhances your appearance and ensures comfort.

mens chest example

Find the Right Brand for Your Chest Measurement

When it comes to applying your chest width to finding the right clothes that fit, it can be a bit of trial and error. Often times, each company or brand may have slightly different size charts so it is very important to check your chest size measurement against their product measurements. Some specialty brands cater to niche slim fits like Nimble Made, who makes specifically slim fit dress shirts and t-shirts. 

 white button up shirt in slim fit on man


Now you know how to measure your chest width! Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance, as you will get a precise measurement without accidental slipping. And when you have the best chest and waist size, your clothing will look and feel great!

With the skills you learned in this guide, you'll be measuring chest size with ease.


Frequently asked questions about how to measure chest size for men

What chest size is 42 inches?

A chest size of 42 inches typically corresponds to a size Large in men's clothing and a size Extra Large or XXL in women's clothing, though it can vary between brands and styles.

Is a 36 chest big?

Whether a 36-inch chest is considered big depends on individual perspectives on cup size and body proportions. Generally, it's a moderate band size for men and may vary in perception based on cultural norms and personal preferences for body type.

 How do I know my chest size without measuring?

You can estimate your chest size without measuring by trying on clothing and noting which size fits comfortably across your chest without being too tight or too loose. Alternatively, you can compare your body proportions with standard size charts provided by clothing brands; however, a tape measure is still best for obtaining accurate measurements.


What is chest size in size chart?

Chest size in a size chart usually refers to the measurement around the fullest part of the chest. It's used as a guideline to determine the appropriate size of clothing, ensuring a comfortable fit across the chest area.


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