The dreaded task of measuring clothes. It’s one of the many necessary evils in fashion. If you’re a young designer, measuring samples and checking finished garments for quality is paramount to your success. If you’re a reseller, letting your customers know the measurements of secondhand garments is key to providing a good buying experience. Or maybe you just want to know the measurements of clothes you already own to help you shop online. What ever your reason for measuring, we’ll explain the easiest way to measure clothes of all types and the tools you’ll need.
What’s Your Purpose For Measuring?
Depending on why, the method you use for measuring and recording measurements will vary. Remember, the act of measuring clothing does not only involve the measuring itself. One also needs to record the measurements. This could be done using traditional means or through various software offerings. Let’s review the reasons you may need to measure a garment.
You’re designing and making clothes
Are you just starting out in fashion design? If so, you can probably recite The Spec Manual by Michelle Bryant from front to back. It’s a fashion designers guide book for garment measuring and creating tech packs. Though it would be foolish to think one could find all design aspects in a single book. Because in the real world there are many variables that go into design. Fashion creation allows you to be an individual, thus there are no boundaries or limits to what one can produce. That being said, there is no one right way to measure in fashion production. There are guides, but it’s common for brands to set their own ways to measure.
The question remains, who are you making clothes for? Yourself? Your employer? Your own business? For the purpose of this post we’ll focus on those making clothes for themselves or to sell as part of their own business. If you’re part of a team designing clothes for a business that’s not yours, chances are you have process in place that will be difficult to veer away from.
You’re reselling clothes online
There are over 25,000 secondhand and vintage clothing stores in the United States alone. Even more exist online. Globally, the fashion resale industry is booming and according to ThredUP it will reach $64 billion by 2028. If you’re in, or are getting into resale, you’re doing more than just putting money in your pocket. You’re helping the planet.
Though reselling clothing doesn’t come without its challenges. For one, each garment needs to be measured and the measurement data input into your online listing. Though the measuring you’ll do for reselling clothing is much less than if you were making clothes. It also won’t vary depending on the brand as in the scenario above. You’ll measure each garment the same. We’ll show you the easiest way to measure clothes for resale.
You want a better online shopping experience
Shopping for clothes online is certainly easier than going to a physical store. Although it usually doesn’t equate to having a better experience. Knowing the measurements of the clothes you already own can drastically improve your success when shopping for clothes online. By success we mean you’ll get the right fit and won’t have to deal with the hassle of a return. No one likes returns.
There’s good news. Brands have started to share the actual measurements of the garments they sell. This is contrary to the generic sizing charts we’re all used to seeing. Why are retailers doing this? They’re struggling with a massive amount of product returns. Also, there’s too much competition out there and brands want you as a repeat customer. So giving you data points, like measurements, to be able to compare your own clothing to is a great way to ensure you’re buying the right product.
Clothes Measuring Tools You’ll Need
The primary tool required in measuring a garment is the measuring tool itself. I use the term tool because now that Tailored has created handsfree measuring from your phone, you no longer require a measuring tape. But if you don’t have Tailored’s instant measuring, below are other tools used to measure and process apparel.
Perhaps the simplest measuring device out there. The flexible measuring tape has been the primary tool for measuring textiles since time began. They’re super cheap and portable. It’s the only way to measure besides Tailored’s Capture technology, so make sure you have one.
Spreadsheet or somewhere to enter your measurements
When taking measurements, you need a place to write them down. A piece of paper and a pencil will do, but adopting a more technical method will save you time and hassle. We recommend using a spreadsheet. Additionally, if you’re selling clothing online and need to create size charts, there’s a neat tool called Sizely that will help you create one using the measurements from your sample garment.
Handsfree clothes measuring tool
If you haven’t heard by now, Tailored has created a way to measure clothing without using a measuring tape. Using a mobile device, simply take a photo of the garment laid flat and their Capture software will return a complete set of measurements.
Easiest Way To Measure Clothes
If you’re measuring for resale or for online shopping, the following tutorial will walk you through the easiest way to measure clothes.
Dresses are one of the most complicated garments to measure. In standard guides for measuring, one could be tasked with measuring over 40 locations on a dress. Though for your purposes this will not be necessary. We’ll simplify it for you by sharing only the most critical measurements for the purpose of fit.
- Waist – find the area of the dress where it will sit on your waist area and measure straight across. Double this measurement.
- Overall length – Measure this from the high point shoulder down to the bottom of the opening.
- Bust – Locate the underarm seam on the left and right side of your dress. Measure straight across and double this measurement.
- Sleeve – Some brands will measure the sleeve from the middle of the back to the end of the arm hole. You’re not going to do that. You’re going to measure the sleeve from the seam where the sleeve connects to the shoulder, then down to the end of the arm hole.
Men are twice as likely as women to return a top. Even still, taking proper measurements is key.
- Overall length – Locate the high point shoulder. This is usually where the neck seam and shoulder area meet. Measure straight down from this location to the bottom of the shirt opening.
- Chest/Bust – Locate the seam under each arm. Measure straight across the garment, from edge to edge. Double this measurement.
- Sleeve – Locate the area where the shoulder and sleeve come together. Measure from this seam to the edge of the sleeve.
- Waist – Locate either the narrowest point between the armhole and shirt bottom or the halfway point between the two. Measure straight across, edge to edge. Double this measurement.
- Bottom opening – Place the garment on a desk or table, press the bottom of the shirt flat and measure straight across the bottom. Double this measurement.
Jeans and dress slacks are the most returned items by both men and women. Nail these measurements and your customers will thank you for it.
- Waist – Align the front and back of the waist together in a straight line. Measure straight across from edge to edge. Double this measurement.
- Hip – Place your garment flat on a desk or table and press it flat. Find the widest part of the hip area. Measure straight across, edge to edge. Double this measurement.
- Front rise – Locate the seam in the crotch area and measure up from here to the top of the waist band. Follow along the curve of the zipper.
- Thigh – This one can vary depending on preference. Some will measure the widest part of the upper leg. Others will choose a specific distance down from the crotch seam (e.g. five inches)
- Inseam – Measure from the crotch seam down to the end of the leg opening. Be sure to follow the natural curve of the leg.
- Leg opening – Press the leg opening flat and measure straight across from edge to edge.
Skirts are one of the easiest garments to measure. It’s measured like a pair of pants or shorts minus the areas like inseam, thigh and leg opening.
- Waist – Measure as you would a pair of pants.
- Hip – Measure the hip as you would a pair of pants.
- Overall length – Measure from the top of the waistband to the bottom of the skirt opening.
Do You Need To Share Measurements?
Do you need to share the measurements with someone? If so, the way in which you recorded them will have a strong effect on how easy they are for you to share.
If you’re planning to send measurements to a tailor, on demand garment manufacturer or designer, Tailored has created the easiest way to share measurements. Using their Capture web app, you can easily measure a garment and share the measurements via email. Their tool even allows you to share measurements via CSV or PDF.
Get in touch with Tailored to learn more.