How to Measure Your Inseam

By: Kristen Hall-Geisler  | 
inseam measurement
Nobody wants their tailor up in their crotch, but it's good to know your inseam measurements. The good news is you can totally use a tape measure to find the measurement all by yourself. Gareth Brown/Getty Images

There's an idea that measuring your inseam is a bit, well, intimate. If you've seen that episode of "Friends" where Chandler visits Joey's professional tailor to be measured for a suit, you know that taking this measurement does involve putting one end of the tape measure in a delicate region: the crotch. We're talking about the crotch of your pants.

But during the pandemic, a lot of people shifted from buying clothes in stores, where they could try them on, to buying clothes online. And it turns out that the inseam of one's pants, even if they're comfy joggers, matters.


First, let's talk about what the inseam is. As you may guess from the word, it's the inside seam of the leg of your pants. It's the length from the crotch to the bottom hem, but it does not include the part of your pants from the crotch to the waistband; that is called the rise. The corresponding measurement on your body is from your physical crotch to the floor. You want to measure both your pants' inseams and your inseam (more on why in a minute).

The easiest way to get an accurate inseam measurement on pants is to lay your pants out flat. Put one end of a measuring tape at the crotch seam where the legs meet and run it down the pant leg to the bottom hem. That number is the inseam measurement for that pair of pants.


Taking Your Inseam Measurement

To measure your inseam, stand on a flat surface up against a wall with your knees straight but not locked. Hold the end of the measuring tape at your crotch, then drop the tape to the floor. Put one foot on the measuring tape to hold it in place. Now read the measurement at your foot. That is your inseam measurement. Use a floor-length mirror if that's helpful.

Now comes the interesting part: You can compare the inseam measurements of a few pair of pants to your own inseam. Knowing your inseam measurements and the inseam measurement of a few pairs of pants in your closet will make online shopping for pants far easier.


Sometimes you want pants to hit right at the ankle, so the inseam of those pants should be shorter than your inseam. If you want to wear heels with your pants, choose pants with an inseam that is longer than your inseam.

If you do this, you won't end up with pants that puddle around your feet or trousers that float above your ankles — unless that's the look you're going for.

In any case, you'll know which inseam length creates the look you want from any pair of pants once they're on your body. Whether you want skinny jeans, straight leg jeans or cropped pants, knowing your inseam measurement will guarantee your pants are never too long, never too short; they're always the perfect length.