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How to Measure Chest Size + Chest Size Chart

Before beginning the hunt for a new button-down, it’s not a bad idea to know your specific measurements ahead of time. Learning how to measure chest size takes just a few minutes, and you’ll be glad you did so to avoid the stress of feeling helpless when shopping.

Knowing your chest size can make life easier for a variety of reasons. Not only does it improve your understanding of your body type, but it also allows you to shop online with greater assurance, never purchasing without feeling confident that it will fit you well. Proper measurements are the first step in making clothing purchases that help you look and feel your best, whether you’re going on a date or interviewing for your dream job.

Let’s dive right into the process of taking measurements so that you can feel confident as ever the next time you wear formal attire.

How to Take Measurements

Left Image of one man wearing a suit illustrating how to take measurements of another man wearing a button-down shirt

Understanding how to take measurements accurately is critical. If done incorrectly, you could end up with a tight collar that restricts breathing or sleeves that reach your fingers—mistakes to avoid at all costs. The process isn’t always as intuitive as you might think; shirts with neck sizes that exactly match your own, for example, will most likely be a bit too tight.

While it’s possible to take measurements yourself, you’ll get the most accurate results with a partner wielding the measuring tape and providing their input. For example, when measuring yourself you may need to look down at the number on the measuring tape around your neck. This stretches the tape and could result in an incorrect measurement—an easily avoidable error with a partner’s help.

There are five parts to taking measurements that this guide will walk you through. These measurements can be used for standard size articles of clothing, such as oxford shirts and non-tailored sports jackets. You may need to alter your clothes for the best fit possible, but these general measurements will help you get started.

What You’ll Need 

Before getting started, you’ll need a soft measuring tape that can wrap around your body easily. This will provide the most accurate measurements. You’ll also want to avoid wearing any bulky layers, as these could distort the measurement. If possible, it’s a good idea to undress down to a thin undershirt.

How to Measure Chest Size

5 steps telling readers how to measure chest size as well as an image of a person checking the measurement of a man’s chest

If seeing numbers like 36S, 39R, or 44L on dress shirts and sport coats initially confused you, you’re not alone. In reality, this size denotation is pretty easy to interpret. The number corresponds to your chest size and the letter corresponds to your height, with S meaning “Short,” R meaning “Regular,” L meaning “Long,” and XL meaning “Extra Long.”

If you’re between 5’7” and 6’ tall, you’ll probably fit best in a Regular (R). If you’re between 6’1” and 6’3”, you’ll want to look for a Long (L). Men under 5’7” and over 6’3” will want to look into Short (S) or Extra Long (XL) shirts.

With the semantics out of the way, let’s talk about chest measurement. Grab a partner to get started.

How to measure your chest size:

  • Stand up straight, with your arms resting comfortably at your sides. Don’t strike a T-pose or puff out your chest.
  • Take a soft tape measure and wrap it under your armpits at the widest part of your chest. The tape measure should be snug around your chest and shoulder blades, but not so tight that it compresses your chest.
  • The number in inches is your chest size.
  • Combine the above number with the letter designation that matches your height, and there you have it—your complete chest size.

    Chest Size Chart 

    Sometimes, even dressy tops will be marked in alpha sizing. This is the classic system of marking sizes as S, M, L, XL, etc. instead of using numbered measurements. After measuring your chest, see our size chart below to match your chest size with its alpha size counterpart.

    Men's Tops Size Guide

    Tommy John uses letter sizing for our clothing.

    Size

    Chest

    S

    34-37

    M

    38-41

    L

    42-44

    XL

    45-48

    XXL

    49-52

    3XL

    53-56

    4XL

    57-60

     

    How to Measure Neck Size

    Woman wearing a sage green shirt illustrating how to measure neck size by wrapping a soft tape around the neck of a mannequin

    Of all measurements, the neck has to be the most precise. It’s much better to have a shirt that’s a bit baggy than a collar that’s way oversized—or worse—that’s suffocating you. If you’ll be wearing a tie, it’s probably a good idea to size yourself a bit higher when in doubt.

    How to measure your neck size:

    • Wrap the tape measure about an inch below your Adam’s Apple, at the lower part of your neck—aim where you expect your shirt collar to rest.
    • Place two fingers between your neck and the tape measure to serve as a buffer. The tape measure should be taut, but not tight enough to choke you.
    • Once you have this number, round up to the next half inch for the most comfortable fit.

    How to Measure Sleeve Length

    Two men wearing similar blue button-down shirts and vests posing as one take the other’s sleeve measurement

    It’s important to know your sleeve size before picking out the perfect dress shirt. Sleeves that are too short can look pretty awkward and sleeves that are too long get dirty quickly from frequent contact with your hands. When measuring your sleeve length, be sure to bend your arm at your elbow slightly for extra ease. We naturally bend our arms a bit, so this technique will make your shirts fit more comfortably.

    How to measure your sleeve length:

    • Place one end of the tape measure on your spine at the center back of your neck and measure the distance to your shoulder joint (the top of your arm). Record this number.
    • Measure from your shoulder joint to the end of your wrist, where your hand begins.
    • Add the two numbers together for the most precise sleeve length.

    Like measuring chest size, this measurement can get a bit complicated. It’s not a bad idea to have a partner wielding the tape measure to make the process easier.

    How to Measure Waist Size

    Man at a clothing store illustrating how to measure waist size on another man who is wearing a button-down shirt blue vest and pants

    There’s a good chance you already know your waist size from buying casual pants. However, everyone wears their pants a little differently, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the standard measuring practice for dress pants.

    How to measure your waist:

    • Wrap a tape measure at the top of your hip bone and over your belly button.
    • Place one finger between the tape measure and your body as a buffer so that your pants don’t fit too tight.
    • Don’t suck in your belly when taking this measurement—your waistline will thank you.

      Waist Size Chart 

      After measuring your waist, you’ll want to know how your waist size is marked in alpha sizing. Take a look at our waist size chart below to learn and memorize your size.

      Men's Bottoms Size Guide

      Tommy John uses letter sizing for our clothing.

      Size

      Waist

      S

      28-30

      M

      31-34

      L

      35-38

      XL

      39-42

      XXL

      43-46

      3XL

      47-50

      4XL

      51-54


      How to Measure Inseam

      Green visual listing three steps to measuring the inseam of pants as well as a close up of a man’s hand measuring it

      When perusing the dress pants section of the store, you’ll notice that they’re marked with two numbers, such as 32x34. The first number corresponds to your waist size, and the second to your inseam. Since you want your nice pants to rest on your shoe without bagging up, getting an accurate inseam measurement is essential.

      How to measure your inseam:

      • Take off your shoes. Shoes add height and can interfere with the inseam of the pants.
      • Wear a pair of pants that fit well.
      • Have a partner with whom you are very comfortable measure the distance between the very top of your inner thigh to the bottom of your ankle.

      If you don’t have help, lay your pants flat on the ground and again measure from the crotch to the hem. While you’ll probably get the most accurate measurement with the help of a partner while wearing the pants, this method should provide you with a close-to-accurate measurement.

      Choosing clothes with cool designs is one thing. Making sure they fit your body well is another. A perfect fit is arguably just as important to your style as the design of the clothes themselves.

      We’re committed to providing unmatched quality, style, and convenience in clothing. Once you’re satisfied with your fit, we hope you’ll check out the latest in the fashion industry and start upgrading your wardrobe today.