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How to Measure Chest Size in 7 Steps

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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 how to measure 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 size 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 how to measure chest size for men and how to get accurate measurements. 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 dress 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 dress shirt, it's important to refer to the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer and take accurate measurements of your chest 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 measurement, sleeve length, and neck size.

Some dress shirt brands like Nimble Made have an exciting approach to the traditional chest measurements. Nimble Made is a men's slim fit dress 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.

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 tape measures that are 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, 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: Lose 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.

Step 6: Record the Chest Measurement

If you are the one measuring your chest width, it’s best to start one end of the tape in the center of your chest. This will make it a lot easier to see your chest size measurement in the mirror. 

When you wrap the tape measure around your torso, you want to record the number on the tape that meets the starting point of the tape. Remember, you need to keep the tape straight, taut, and level at all times. Measure your chest size from armpit to armpit. 

The number you record is your chest measurement. So if you wrap the tape around your torso and the number 48 on the tape touches the starting point of the tape, your chest size is 48 inches.

Step 7: 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.

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. 



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 measurement, your clothing will look and feel great!

With the skills you learned in this guide, you'll learn how to measure your sleeve length, neck size, and waist size easily.


Frequently asked questions about how to measure chest size for men

  • What size is a 36 chest?
  • A 36 chest can fit between a small and medium for standard sizes for men. Often times, brands have their own fit and measurements which is why the answer can often vary. Be sure to look at each brand’s size chart to confirm before purchasing.

  • What is a 42 chest size?
  • Depending on the brand, a 42 chest size can fit on the spectrum of M, L, and XL shirts. The 42 chest size indicates 42 inches measured from armpit to armpit. Make sure to check each product measurement size charts to confirm the right size before purchasing.

  • What size is 34 inch chest?
  • A 34 inch chest can fit XS or S standard sizes in the U.S. Though every company can have slightly different measurements per size.