How to Measure Your Chest for Clothes

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Always take your chest measurement before ordering a tuxedo or other formal wear.
Always take your chest measurement before ordering a tuxedo or other formal wear. (Image: white rose chest boutinerre chest tux image by Paul Retherford from Fotolia.com)

When shopping for clothes from a catalog or online store, measure your body to determine which size to order. Even if you think you know your size, confirm that your measurement translates to your expected size every time you shop. To measure your chest for shirt, blouse or jacket purchases, wear a thin t-shirt and stand using your normal posture. For women, measure while wearing the type of bra you expect to wear with the clothing you seek to purchase. If possible, ask another person to help you take your chest measurement.

Things You'll Need

  • Cloth measuring tape
  • String and stiff measuring tape or ruler (optional)
  • Mirror or another person

Women

Wrap the cloth measuring tape or string around the fullest part of your chest, which on most women is usually around the nipple line. Keep your arms relaxed near your sides. Do not compress the breast with the tape or string or your measurement will be inaccurate.

Use a mirror or a friend to ensure that the tape or string wraps around your back in a straight line. Also check that the “zero” marking on your measuring tape or the very end of your string is the starting point of your measurement.

Pinch the tape or string where it touches the starting point with your pointer finger and thumb. Examine the number at your pinch location, or, if using string, lay the string out and measure the length from the beginning of the string to your pinch location.

Men

Wrap the cloth measuring tape or string around your chest, right under your armpits and over your shoulder blades. Keep your arms relaxed or a few inches away from your sides.

Use a mirror or a friend to check that the tape or string wraps around your chest and back in a straight line. Also check that the "zero" marking your measuring tape or the very end of your string is the starting point of your measurement.

Pinch the tape or string where it touches the starting point with your pointer finger and thumb. Examine the number at your pinch location, or, if using string, lay the string out and measure the length from the beginning of the string to your pinch location.

Tips & Warnings

  • Though American clothing stores usually ask for measurements in inches, many stores abroad and some in the United States require measurements in centimeters. Check the size chart on the store's website or in the catalog before measuring.

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