How To Measure Your Waist for Pants

Tape Measure for Pants Measurement

Introduction to Measuring the Waist

Why do we need to know how to measure the waist for pants? Because there are so many brands out there in an increasingly global world and we have yet to develop a unified measurement system for pant sizes. It’s important for professionals to be aware of their specific sizes not only for the ease of online shopping, but also to be able to dress in an elegant, clean cut manner. Naturally, if you’re unaware of your sizing, you can always learn how to cuff pants for a different style, but all professionals will eventually need well-fitted pants at some point in their lives and know where is waist measured.

In the article below, we’ll go through how to measure waist for pants, how to translate that into sizes, how to read a tape measure, and why it’s important to know how to properly measure your waist. It won’t be a comprehensive article, but it is a simple, easy-to-follow men’s pants measurement guide about where is the waist measured. 



How to Measure Men’s Pants Size

There’s actually a multitude of ways to measure pants, from the everyday waist and pants length measurements, to a comprehensive guide on all the measurements needed to measure pants. There are a couple of main points that are considered, such as the natural waist, inseam, out-seam, front and back seat, and the pants opening.

Unless you want to have specially tailored pants or you’re writing a men’s pants measurement guide in the future, you’re not going to need to know all those. The main two that are usually used to create sizes are the inseam and the waist measurements.

But today, we’re going to focus on the waist measurements, as that is the most important fit to consider when buying pants. 

how to measure waist for pants infographic by Nimble Made

How To Measure Men’s Pants: The Waist

In order to figure out how to measure waist for pants, men’s edition, you’re going to need a couple of additional items. You’re going to need a soft measuring tape and something to write your measurements down on. But from there, it’s only a few simple steps.


1. Obtain a Soft Measuring Tape

how to measure waist tape measure

If you don’t own one already, you can always buy a tailor’s measuring tape or a soft measuring tape at a fabric store or a convenience store. It’s a useful flexible tape measure to have. 

2. Figure Out Where to Measure the Waist

You should be measuring the waist around the belly button area. You need to be below the ribs and above the hips, which should work out to be just above the belly button. 

3. Measure the Waist Correctly

where to measure waist

Wrap the tailor’s tape around the natural waistline area, but do not wrap it extremely tight. It should be a loose fit around the waist. You should be able to fit at least one finger in between your waist and the tape. Breathe out naturally and take the measurement to understand "what is my waist size."

4. Convert to Sizing

pants measurements waistband sizing

If you’re measuring in centimeters, you should round up to the next even number. For example, if you have a 31 inch waist, you should round up to 32 inch. And if you’re in between two numbers, you should always round up to the next whole even number. For example, if you have a 31.5 inch waist, you should look for the 32 inch pant sizes. 

How Measure Waist for Pants without Tape

If you’re looking for the most accurate way of measuring waist for pants, then you’re going to need a tape measure. However it’s not impossible to measure the waist for pants without tape. If you want to know how to measure your waist without a tape measure, the best way would be to find a pair of pants that you already own.

Step 1: 

Lay a pair of pants that you own that fits well flat on a surface. 

Step 2: 


Use a virtual ruler app on your phone (the most recent iPhones already provide this feature or you can always download an app) to measure the length of the waistband. 

Step 3: 

Multiply the measurement by two to get your suggested waistband size. 

How to Measure Leg Length for Pants

How to measure leg length for pants is the next step you’ll need to figure out your entire pants sizing. It’s just as important to have accurate measurements for the pants legs as the waist, but it is more forgiving. Because you can adjust pants legs by either cuffing or shortening the pant legs, as long as the waist measurement fits well, the pant legs can be a bit longer. 


how to measure pants inseam


To measure leg length for pants, you should take the same tape measure and measure the length of your inseam. This will go from the highest point of your inner thigh to your ankles, where you would like your pant length to sit. It would be best to take these measurements with your shoes off, or get some help in measuring the inseam. 

Pant Measurements to Pant Sizes

With both your waist measurement and the inseam measurement, you should be able to find the accurate pant size from brands or use these measurements to fit into a small, medium, large, extra large, etc. As a note, most brands’ waist sizes are not true to size. They tend to add a couple of inches to the waist measurements. For example, a size 32 waist might actually measure 34.5 inches. The industry standard is to add an inch to 1.5 inches. But do keep in mind that some fabrics tend to shrink after being washed, so you can use your true measurement to round up or down as needed. 

Why is it Important to Correctly Know How To Measure Pants

It’s incredibly important to learn how to measure waist for pants and legs for pants correctly, because it will improve your image. Imagine walking into a job interview, a date, or even just casually around your neighborhood in pants that are either too long or too short and are falling off your waist. While that might work for the street style, it simply looks sloppy in a professional manner. Everyone eventually needs clothing that fits well like our professional dress shirts. It gives a great first impression when you walk into any professional setting with a pair of well fitted pants with a perfect slim fit mens white dress shirts, because it shows that you can take care of yourself. Nimble Made makes dress shirts based on body mass index and body fat. They take into your height and weight into proportion to make the best slim fit shirt out there.

Be sure to also check out our guide on how to take hip measurements, and how to measure sleeve length.


Understanding Vanity Sizes and Its Role in Waistline Measure

Vanity sizing is a marketing strategy used by clothing brands to make their customers feel better about themselves and their bodies by assigning smaller clothing sizes to garments than the standard measurements would suggest. In other words, it involves labeling clothes with larger sizes than they actually are, leading individuals to believe they wear a smaller size than they truly do.

This practice can boost customer satisfaction and self-esteem, potentially encouraging more purchases. However, vanity sizing can also create confusion and frustration for shoppers, as they might find themselves fitting into a smaller size in one brand while needing a larger size in another, leaving customers dependent on a brand's men's clothing size chart to determine the right pant size.

This phenomenon blurs the lines between accurate sizing and societal perceptions of body image, ultimately influencing how people perceive their own bodies and impacting their shopping choices.

Conclusion About How To Measure Waist & Pants

It’s very important to know and consistently update your measurements to ensure that your clothes fit you. In learning how to measure the waist for pants, you’ll save yourself a lot of headache shopping online by not having to order multiple sizes to try the fit if you know exactly how you fit into your pants. It’s easy to measure, all you need is either a pair of pants or a tape measure and you’ll be able to have your specific waist and leg measurements. 

Waist Measuring FAQ

Question: What size is a 34 inch waist?

Answer: 34 inch waist is US size 34 and an international M/L fit.

Question: How do you measure yourself for pants?

Answer: Measure your waist at the belly button and your leg length from the highest point of your inner thigh to your ankle to get your measurements for pants. 

Question: What is a size 32 in pants?

Answer: Size 32 in pants (US sizing) is a 32 - 33 inch or 81 - 83 cm waist and corresponds to a Medium size internationally.

Question: What is waist 28 in size?

Answer: A waist size of 28 is US size 28 and a size Small internationally. 

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