Most of us assume we know what size we wear. But how do you know? For many of us, this knowledge just resides in our brain, a leftover from our teenage years, and we really aren’t sure how it was decided, or where we learned it.

Part of the reason many of us don’t really know our size is that sizing can be subjective. Many brands use fast-food drink sizing—small, medium, large, extra large, etc. These sizes are often arbitrary and can change from location to location. 

Often, this type of sizing can be arbitrary even within a brand—you may wear a medium, but need a large in a slim fit line to avoid looking like you are about to bust your buttons. You may be an extra large, but need a large when wearing short sleeve shirts to avoid looking like a quick-service restaurant manager.

Knowing Your Numeric Size is Key

Unlike ladies’ clothing, where numbers can be even more arbitrary than small, medium, etc., men’s clothing has objective sizing information as well. A numeric size for men relates to specific measurements (typically inches in the US) of certain body attributes. This translates into much easier shopping once you know these numbers. 

Internet Shopping Saves Time

Many people do not enjoy lengthy shopping trips, and going out to try on clothes gets more cumbersome every day. 

If you have ever attempted to try on a typical dress shirt, you know the time it takes to unwrap the shirt, pull 15 straight pins out of it, remove cardboard collar stays, and unbutton it. Then you feel guilty when it doesn’t fit, or you don’t like the way color lays, and you decide not to buy it- someone gets to redo all that you just undid. 

The internet makes shopping substantially easier, with the ability to avoid crowds while shopping in your pajamas. Unfortunately, if you don’t really know your size well, you will not be able to shop online. While it is feasible to order several of the same things and send the extras back, you are then obligated to pay for more than you need and wait on a refund. Alternately, you could order what you work, then send it back for a replacement if it doesn’t fit. That is a lot of time lost. 

In an ideal world, you will cut down on such inconveniences by knowing your accurate size. While variations in the body and different brands/styles will lead to the occasional misfit, knowing your sizes makes getting the right fit much more accurate.

Four Numbers are all You Need

It is much easier to find your sizes with a little help from someone else. It is hard to hold both ends of a measuring tape and get an accurate reading while bent and twisted to get the tape where you need to. 

Once you have that help, you are looking for four numbers- inseam, waist, collar/neck, and sleeve. With these, you can purchase pretty much any normal wardrobe item except jackets/ coats. You may need to measure your torso length if you are very tall or substantially shorter than average, but those are outliers.

For pants, the only numbers you typically need are your waist and inseam. Your waist should be measured at your natural waist, where you will wear your pants. Your inseam is the length from the meeting of your inner thighs down to the lower hem. 

For your shirt, you may need a little more help measuring dress shirt fit. Because our upper bodies have more mobility than our legs, with the ability to rotate our arms and the flexibility in our spines, you should definitely seek assistance to get an accurate measurement.

With a few key measurements, you are ready to shop with confidence that you will find the right fit to help you look your best!