If you wondering what is inseam, then you’ve come to the right place. In the fashion world it is a critical measurement to ensure proper fit for pants and shorts!
Today we discuss everything you need to know about inseam and why it is important to know how to measure it!
Affiliate links may be used in this post. To learn more, please review our full disclosure statement below (on mobile) or to the right (on desktop). Also, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks for your support!
What is Inseam?
Inseam is a clothing term used to describe the measurement of the inner leg line. The inseam on a human body is the measurement of the lowest crotch point to the ankle bone.
An inseam on a piece of clothing is the measurement of the inner leg seam, from the crotch to the bottom hem of the leg opening.
Inseam is a key measurement to know when buying pants or shorts! This measurement is a great guideline for know before buying new pants or jeans!
Why is the Inseam important?
Inseam is important because it ensure pants fit right and are not too long or too short. Knowing your inseam measurement for pants will ensure you achieve proper proportions in your pants.
Too long of a pant inseam will drag on the ground, underfoot, and/or cause bunching at the ankles. This can be avoided by either avoiding the pant purchase or by simply hemming the pants to match your inseam length.
Too short of an inseam will mean the pant legs will be too short on you. A short pant can only be worn with specific footwear without looking out of place. This could restrict how often and where you wear your pants.
Generally speaking, knowing your inseam and the pant inseam before buying will ensure you get the most wear out of pants.
What is Outseam?
Opposite of an inseam, the outseam is the measurement of the outer hemline of a pair of pants. It is the length between the waistband and the bottom of the leg.
The biggest difference between an outseam and an inseam is that the outseam is the entire length of the bottoms, while the inseam is just the inner leg seam measurement. The inseam does not account for the distance between the waistband and crotch.
How to Measure Your Inseam
The easiest way to measure your inseam for pants is to use your favorite pair of pants or jeans that fit you well.
Lay the pants out straight on a flat surface. Use a tape measure to measure the length from the crotch to bottom of the pants.
Another way to find your inseam is to simply measure from the top of the inside of your thigh down to your ankle. It is important to not measure all the way to the floor, be sure to stop at the ankle bone. Measuring to the floor will result in a length that is too long.
Now that we know how to measure an inseam, let’s look at ways to use it properly.
How to Use Your Inseam Measurement
Inseam provides the measurement needed to ensure pants (and shorts) fit properly.
Both your personal inseam measurement and the pant inseam should be known BEFORE purchasing a new pair of pants, especially if not trying them on.
TIP: The type of footwear you wear with pants will impact the pant inseam.
Generally speaking, pants can have AT LEAST 0.5″ (half of an inch) of additional inseam if your wear with heels. This of course can vary depending on several factors.
When wearing heels with SKINNY pants, you should be able to stick to your true inseam measurement.
When wearing pants with a WIDE LEG OPENING (flare, bootcut, wide leg, or straight fit), you should be able to wear a pant with a longer inseam so that the pants and shoes look good when worn together.
Can inseam be altered?
Yes! Pant inseams can always be taken up, or hemmed, if a pair of pants is too long for you.
Is Inseam the Same as Length?
No! The inseam is just the length of the inner leg seam on a pair of pants. The true pant length is a measurement of the outer leg seam, from the waist band to the bottom of the pant. This is the outseam.
The inseam does not account for the length between waistband and top of the thigh.
How to Measure on Pants
Steps to measure an inseam on pants:
- Lay the pants taut on a flat surface
- Adjust one leg so the the inner seam is facing up
- Fold over the other pant leg away from you (this is optional)
- Using a measuring tape, measure from the top of the inner seam to the bottom of the pant leg
How to Measure on Shorts
Steps to measure the inseam on shorts:
- Lay the shorts taut on a flat surface
- Adjust one leg so the the inner seam is facing up
- Using a measuring tape, measure from the top of the inner seam to the bottom of the leg opening
Short inseams are becoming more and more common, both for men and women. It is useful to know the length you are most comfortable in before purchasing shorts.
For me, 4″ shorts are the shortest I will wear, while 7″ shorts are the longest inseam that looks good on me, proportionally.
Shorts Inseam: The Guidelines
The inseam on shorts can vary, depending on the style. This inseam can be anywhere from 1″ to over 10″!
Many factors will determine the best short inseam length for you. Your height, lifestyle, wardrobe style, body shape, can all impact your optimal short inseam.
It is important to consider the fabric of shorts when deciding on the inseam that is best for you. Biker shorts (tight spandex style shorts) generally look best with longer inseam lengths. Short inseam length for tight fabric like this could make the shorts appear like an undergarment!
Here is what coverage to expect based on short inseam:
2″: This is very short, daisy duke style shorts. Certain body types can pull this off, while other body types may have some cheeky exposure.
2″-3″: A very short length, but should provide full backside coverage. This will leave thighs fully exposed.
4″: This is the perfect inseam for casual, everyday shorts. It hits around the mid-upper thigh and provides excellent coverage. See photo below. I’m just under 5’6″ in height.
6″: Generally, this length hits around mid-thigh and it super comfortable and flattering.
10″+: Around this length is what most would reference as bermuda style shorts, hitting at or just above the knee.
Tips on Inseam
- Your height does not determine your inseam. Everybody has different body proportions.
- Add .5 or an inch to your inseam measurement if you plan on wearing high heels with your pants.
- Consider fabric shrinkage: Add .5 inches to your inseam measurement if the material of the pants that you will buy tends to shrink.
- Style: Some pants are designed to be short (cropped pants or ankle pants). Knowing the fit and style will help you determine the right length for you.
Be sure to check out my shop page, HERE, to shop all my looks, outfit inspo, gift guides and more.
STAY IN THE KNOW: Don’t forget to sign up for my exclusive newsletter for STYLE TIPS, NEW POST ALERTS, AND MUCH MORE!
As always, thank you so much for stopping by today, I truly appreciate you!