How To Measure Your Inseam: Look Great in Any Pair of Pants

Knowing how to measure inseams on pants is a key part of looking and feeling good in your clothes. Don’t overlook it!

I don’t mean to sound like a bullheaded traditionalist (I’m a style traditionalist but not bullheaded). However, pant inseams have been subjected to some objectionable trends.

Okay, fine, I know that harem pants are good for yoga. And I’m sensitive to incorporating cool, new styles from other cultures and eras.

But practically any style of pants can be timelessly flattering with proper inseams. And that’s whether you’re wearing a pair of jeans or dress trousers.

This approach just truly complements any body type. So perhaps extra low or loose inseams do go in and out of style. Still, a traditional fit will always result in the perfect pair of pants — for anyone.

And just from a practical point of view, well-fitting pants make movement easier in everyday life. They also ensure your pants stay where they’re supposed to. 

So, if you don’t know how to measure your inseams yet, sit tight. I’ll tell you everything you need to know!

Measuring an Inseam on Pants Prelude: What Are Inseams Exactly?

Obviously, if you know where to find your pant inseams, skip to the next section and start measuring.

However, I want to ensure this guide is as comprehensive as possible. So, we’re starting with the basics. That’s how important I think being able to measure your inseams is!

Just take a look at any pair of full-length pants. In fact, this even applies to shorts. The inseam is the inner line of the pant leg, starting at the crotch seam and going all the way down to the hem of the pants. 
Higher hemmed pants will have a shorter inseam than longer ones.

If your jeans are slim with no break, then they’ll likely have a shorter inseam compared to a regular fit pair with a small break before the bottom of the pants.

If you have shorter legs and wider hips, your inseams might be a lot shorter than the outseams. If you’re small-statured and skinny with thin legs, then your inseams might not be that much shorter than the outseams. Broader legs may require longer inseams.

One good way to know that you have the right inseam length is by observing them in action. You want them to basically stay in place, even as you move, walk, sit, and stand throughout the day.

Actually, most pants have a stitched seam in the inner leg. This seam is the inseam. It should stay in place as a straight line for the most part. Yes, even if you’re wearing skinny jeans.

Does the seam line start to slant or make its way towards the front or back of your leg? If so, your pants are either way too tight, or you have the wrong size waist, or it’s poorly hemmed. (Well-made raw denim jeans with leg twist can be an exception.) 

Suffice it to say the inseam is directly connected to other pant measurements. The waist, the hems, the inseams, and the outseams are all working with each other to grant your fit and mobility.

Alright, let’s get to measuring!

How Do You Measure Inseam on Pants

Remember, your inseam is the length between the crotch seam and the bottom of your pants. To get an accurate measurement, you might want to enlist the help of a friend. This way, you aren’t bending over, affecting the measurement, or trying to get a peak of visuals outside of your direct eye line.

One good way to go is to put on a well-fitting pair of pants. Perhaps they’re suit pants you’ve had tailored. Or maybe they’re a pair of jeans that flatter you, provide great mobility, and maintain a mostly straight inner seam as you move.

Once you have these ideal pants on, put your shoes on as well. You want to simulate how your pants wear in real life. This means pairing them with footwear that might add a bit of height.

Using a measuring tape, place the end of it right where your crotch seam is.

Then, move it down the inner part of your leg. Again, it may already have a stitched seam there. Simply follow that.

If it doesn’t, make sure to stop at the knee area and press the tape measure down so it doesn’t move. Using that as an anchor, move the tape to the bottom of the pant hem.

Voila! That’s your inseam measurement.

Pants-Off Inseam Measurements

Let’s say you don’t have someone readily available to measure the pants on you. That’s no problem at all — if you’re confident that you have the right pair of pants.

What I mean by this is that these are pants you’ve worn a lot. They’ve consistently fit you in a flattering and comfortable way. And you’ve worn them in a variety of outfits. Again, a tailored pair of trousers is a good example.

You can simply measure them on their own, on a flat surface, even though you’re not wearing them. After all, you know they fit well.

Start by laying your pants flat on a clean, even surface. A table or an ironing board are two excellent options.

Stretch the pant leg out so that it’s perfectly straight and unwrinkled. Then, fold the pant leg perfectly along the inseam so you can get a clean visual of that line.

Simply take the tape measure, start it at the crotch seam, and measure that line all the way down to the bottom of the pant leg.

There’s your inseam measurement.

Now, let’s say that you don’t even have a pair of pants with you. Perhaps you’re ordering a pair of pants online, and you aren’t sure which size inseam to order. 

In this case, you’ll have to find that friend again. At least, you’ll have to if you want the most accurate inseam measurement.

Stand up straight. Place your feet on the floor so that the space between them is the same as your shoulder width. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just do your best.

Now, have that friend put the end of the measuring tape at the very top of your inner thigh. They’ll then follow the length of your inner thigh where an inseam would be.

Have them stop at the knee area so they can anchor the tape measure there with their finger.

Then, they’ll measure the length of your inner leg all the way down to the floor.

The Importance of Wearing Accurate Inseam Measurements

When you have bad inseams, your pants aren’t just unflattering but potentially uncomfortable. Inseams that are too high can squeeze and constrain you. No one likes chafing. Meanwhile, inseams that are too low can get in the way of your mobility, particularly if you’re wearing harder material like denim.

With the right inseams, you avoid pants that are too long or too short. You get the right, most complementary proportions and avoid unattractive excess fabric. And again, they ensure that everything stays in place.

Here’s a really important style hack. You can definitely experiment with different, trendy fits as they go in and out of style. However, if you have the proper inseams and the proper shoulder fits, you can make most fits look good on you.

It’s a point I make in my analysis of whether or not the oversized clothing trend can work for shorter guys.

Of course, in my opinion, a traditional fit overall is the best, most timeless way to go. And it complements all body types. However, if you anchor the entire outfit in the shirt shoulders and the pant inseams, you can find the most intentional-looking versions of oversized and skinny-fit garments.


Still have questions about inseam measurements? Well, I’ve got answers!

How Do I Know My Inseam Size?

You can measure the inseam on a pair of perfectly-fitting pants. Or you can measure your inner thigh, starting at the very top and moving all the way down to the floor. 

What Should My Inseam Be for My Height?

On average, if you’re between 5’4” and 5’7” your inseam will fall anywhere between 28” to 32”. However, it completely depends on your unique proportions and body type.

Conclusion: Practical and Stylish

Going for the proper fit when it comes to your pant inseams yields positive results, both in function and looks.

By the way, knowing your inseam can also help you when you’re choosing a bike.

When in doubt, go for slightly longer pants. Getting clothes taken in is always easier than letting them out.

Do you know your inseam length? Which measurement method do you find the most reliable? Feel free to sound off in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter!

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