How to measure your waist for jeans

Have no idea how to measure your waist for jeans? It's more straighforward than you think.

Waist measurements are confusing. Some folks suggest measuring your waist based on where your belly button is. Others suggest measuring the smallest circumference around your waist. And still others suggest measuring where your tummy is widest. Which one is right?

The answer is none of 'em. The best place to measure your waist is based on the rise of the jeans you'd like to buy.

Measuring Your Waist for Jeans

Here's the skinny.

  • For high-rise, you'll want to measure 11 - 12 inches above your crotch point.
  • For mid-rise, you'll want to measure 9 - 10 inches above your crotch point.
  • For low-rise, you'll want to measure 7 - 8 inches above your crotch point.

Crotch Point

What the hell is a crotch point?

Take out a pair of jeans. Turn them upside down and spread the legs. You'll find a vertical seam, a continuation of the zipper. You'll also see a horizontal seam, the two inner seams of your jean legs.

Where the horizontal seam and the vertical seam intersect is your crotch point.


How to measure your jean rise.

The distance from your crotch point to your the band of your waist is your rise.

You'll want to mimic the same when measuring your waist for a pair of jeans you'd like to buy.

With just a pair of drawers on, start with a measuring tape at your imaginary crotch point. Anchoring one end of the measuring tape at your crotch point, pull the other end toward your waist. Think of it as pulling the tape measure over an imaginary zipper.

  • If you'd like a low-rise jean, take note of where the tape measure ends after 7 - 8 inches.
  • If you'd like a mid-rise jean, take note of where the tape measure ends after 9 - 10 inches.
  • If you'd like a high-rise jean, take note of where the tape measure ends after 11 - 12 inches.

Once you've noted where the tape measure ends, use that point to measure the circumference of your waist. Just to leave no denim unturned, the circumference is a circle around the your waist.

If you're thinking, "Wait a minute. That means my waist measurement will change, depending on the style of jeans I buy," you're exactly right.


There is no such thing as sane jean sizing.

If you've bought more than a pair of jeans in your life, you know that different brands have their own artistic interpretation of a size chart. It's not terribly uncommon to see different sizing between jeans that share the same brand and style!

Given the lack of sanity in jean sizing, treat my recommendations to measuring your waist as a guide, not a bible. Always check the sizing chart specific to the brand to get some clue as to how they measure, then read the reviews to see hwhether that clue is remotely accurate. And jean sizing is about more than waist measurements. Check out my article, how do jean sizes work for the full picture.

You now know how to measure your waist for jeans.

Let me know in the comments below if you found my suggestions helpful!