What is the inseam on pants, where is it, & how to measure

Pants can make or break your look, from casual outfits to formal attires. For this reason, you must choose a pair that fits you perfectly. After all, people can see if you feel uncomfortable in your clothes. One day, your old pants suddenly tore, and you decided to buy new ones. But when you ventured into the uncharted land that is a clothing store, you found yourself overwhelmed by all the recondite terms. Inseam, rise, waist length – who knew shopping for something as simple as pants could be so daunting?

33 inseam pants

Fear not. You don’t need to star in Vogue to know your way around clothes. This article will tell you everything you need to know about inseams and pants in general.

There are a couple of things you should know, the same way you’d want to do your research before getting a bra or shower decor.

What is the inseam on pants?

American Eagle jeans

Located on both inner leg sides of the pants, the inseam holds the back and front parts of the fabric together. Although most pants feature this indispensable seam, it is most visible on jeans or other denim pants. It is because it tends to be placed outside and made from a different colored fabric. It goes from the bottom of the crotch well down to the leg opening.

So now you know what an inseam is and where to find it. But why should you need to?

Along with waist size, it is the most important factor to consider when purchasing a new pair of pants. A too short inseam will leave your legs bare. An unreasonably long one will cause the fabric to hang loose over your feet, meaning you might trip over it.

Avoiding modifications

black pants

Choosing the correct size will save you the toil and money needed for modifications.

Depending on your outfit, you might consider buying pants with inseams slightly longer or shorter than your ideal fit. We will go over these details in the later sections.

Remember that both inseam and inside leg measurements refer to the same thing. Even though you can sometimes find this crucial intel on the price tag, not all brands use this system. When hunting for the pair that would go best with your outfit, look for this information on the permanent label. You can find it on the inner backside of the pants. The first number stands for the waist size and the second one for the inseam measurement.

It’s not very different from wanting the right size bra or ring.

ladies' jeans

28, 30, & 32-inch inseam

Yogiplace Long Workout Pants

If you have trouble locating the inseam, consider trying these yoga pants for size. Made by Yogipace, they come in numerous inseam lengths. You can wear them to your yoga class and as a comfy option at home. The inseam is visible on this pair, meaning they are the perfect buy for if you are new to the world of fashion. They come in multiple colors, from black to navy blue.

Average inseam for height

men's dress pants

Even though measuring is still the best way to find your inseam length, there is a range where you can expect your inseam to fall. It depends on your height. Remember that your height doesn’t determine your inside leg measurement exactly. Rather, you can expect to fall within a certain interval.

For instance, if you are 5’2, your inseam length will range from 27” to 28.3”. People tall 5’4 can expect their inside leg measurement to be between 28” and 29.3”. Lastly, if you are 5’5, then your interval lies between 28.3″ and 29.9″.

As you can see, the inseam length is not set in stone for any one height. Instead, you can consider it a continuum. Still, it might help you double-check your measurement. For the expected length associated with each height, view the table below.

Average inseam length for different heights (in inches)

Height in ft inAverage min inseamAverage max inseam
4’1125.6″27.2″
5’126”27.6”
5’126.4″28″
5’227”28.3”
5’327.6″28.7″
5’428”29.3”
5’528.3″29.9″
5’628.7”30.3”
5’729.1″30.7″
5’829.5”31.1”
5’929.9″31.5″
5’1030.3”32.1”
5’1130.7″32.7″
6′31.1”33.1”
6’131.5″33.5″
6’332.7″34.3″
6’533.5″35″
6’734.3″36.2″

All this talk about inseams is futile if you don’t even know your inseam length. While it tends to be written on the label, all is not lost if you can’t find it anywhere. In case you have doubts about your sartorial savvy, don’t worry. We will walk you through this simple procedure.

pants

How to measure the inseam for men & women

  1. Start by perusing your wardrobe for your favorite pair.

    It means you feel comfortable in it. It should also be the same type of pants as those you are about to buy. Don’t measure yoga pants when you plan to buy jeans.

  2. Place the pants on the table and fold them in half by the vertical axis.

  3. Lift the top leg until you can see the inseam.

  4. Remove any wrinkles and folds.

    Otherwise, you won’t be able to measure the inseam correctly.

  5. Measure the inseam.

    Place the measuring tape to the bottom of the crotch and measure it down to the hem.

  6. For extra safety, you might want to measure it a couple more times to see if you’re getting similar readings.

  7. Write down the measurement exactly as it is.

    If you’re buying jeans, consider adding an extra 0.5 inches. The pants will fit you once you wash them. If you plan on wearing heels with these pants, add up to 1 extra inch to this number.

Alternatively, you can measure the length from your crotch down to your ankles. While this will give you a general idea about the number you’re looking for, we still recommend using the above method for greater precision.

How to alter an inseam

If you failed to purchase the tailor-made pants of your dreams, don’t despair just yet. Depending on how off you were, you might be able to fix your mistake with relative ease.

Whichever of the following procedures you plan to perform, consider performing a trial run on a pair you couldn’t care less about. Better that you make a mistake on this worthless piece of fabric before attempting to alter your precious garment.

striped pants

Hemming the pants

Hemming means shortening the pants at the bottom of the legs. Though you don’t meddle with the inseam itself, it is still a very effective way to remove the limp pieces of fabric hanging at your feet. What’s more, it’s quite simple.

  1. While wearing the shoes, you intend to pair with these pants, mark the hemline with chalk. It should be just below your ankles in most cases.
  2. Fold the pants in half. The legs must stack up nicely on one another. Otherwise, you may risk an uneven cut.
  3. Gauge the distance between the current hem and the mark you made.
  4. Next, you must ensure that both legs stick together while you cut. Place two sewing pins near the thighs to secure them.
  5. Using chalk, mark a fold line on both pant legs.
  6. Determine how much space you need to leave to fold the hemline. Measuring the original distance might help you with this decision,
  7. Add a new horizontal line below the fold line. It is where you’ll cut off the extra fabric.
  8. Cut away the surplus fabric with scissors. Make sure they are sharp, or you might end up with rough edges.
  9. Remove the pins that held the two legs together.
  10. Fold the fabric below the fold line toward it.
  11. Straight stitch the hem to the pants. Naturally, you have to do this for both legs.
  12. Fold them in half as you’d done before.
  13. Move them on an ironing board and iron them. This step eradicates all chalk marks as well as wrinkles. The amount of heat you want to use depends on the material. For synthetic fabric, use medium heat to avoid doing any damage. On the other hand, cotton ones can handle higher temperatures.
  14. Congratulations, you’ve shortened them successfully!

Letting out hems

women's dress pants

It is the opposite procedure of hemming. Most come with hems that can easily be undone, meaning you can elongate them if they’re too short. Just know that this is only a matter of a few extra inches. It won’t salvage pants that are far too short. Despite this, it might be worth your while.

  1. Turn your pants inside out.
  2. Undo the seam. It is best achieved with a stick picker. If you lack this machine, you may use scissors. Remember that they will not be as effective and might cause fraying.
  3. Once you release the entire hem, iron it flat to remove the marks of the former hemline.
  4. Congratulations, your pants are now longer!

What to look for in jeans

Price

It goes without saying that your budget affects your options. Although renowned brands are bound to produce quality jeans, they might cost hundreds of dollars. There are cheaper options that are just as good. It means you can comfortably buy new pants for below $100.

Waist Measurement

We weren’t kidding when we said this is the second most important factor when shopping for pants. Ones that are too wide are going to keep falling. Although belts can remedy this, it creates ripples and wrinkles. Surely, you don’t want to look like you wore a sack for pants.

If the waistline is too thin, odds are you won’t buy them – you won’t even be able to put them on!

Thankfully, measuring the width of your waist couldn’t be easier. Simply wind the measuring tape around the smallest part of your waist and take the measurement.

The waist measurement is the first number found on pants labels.

women's pants

Inseam measurement

Of course, your inseam measurement is pivotal when choosing your dream pants. Knowing the correct number will help you buy a perfect fit. Consider buying ones that are 0.5 inches longer in inseam and wash them immediately. That way, they won’t become too tight after they shrink. You should add up to an inch to your inseam length if you intend to wear heels.

You can find the inside leg measurement on the label. Here, it is listed as the second number.

The material

While original denim is made from pure cotton, synthetic alternatives have emerged in recent years. The most famous one is stretch denim, which is known for its elasticity. This is achieved by adding elastane and lycra. Some people dislike the feeling of synthetic fabric on their skin as they might sweat a lot.

If you want them to give you a little leeway as far as the fit is concerned, then the added synthetic fibers are a godsend for you. On the other hand, avoid them if they irritate your skin.

Rise

Yoga pants

Unlike inseam, the jeans’ length is measured from the waistline to the bottom of the legs. Sometimes called the rise, it determines how close to your torso the jeans will reach. Though it’s fashionable for men to wear jeans that don’t go above the waist, women have much more freedom in this department. It ultimately comes down to the style you wish to sport. The world’s your oyster.

Women’s jeans

Labeling the waist and inseam lengths is more common for men. For women, a unique system has been developed. The sizes have been split into three categories – petite, regular and tall. Each one of these is designed to fit women who fit into a certain height range.

Petite size

The petite size is ideal for women of 5’3 and shorter. Petite pants generally feature shorter hems and slimmer looks.

Regular size

It is called average size and is the most common out of all three. It is tailored specifically for women between 5’4 and 5’7.

Tall size

The tall size is intended for women whose height is 5’8 or more. Tall-sized jeans sport longer hems to balance out the tall figure.

To complete matters more, there are many different types of jeans out there. From skinny to boyfriend type, the list is exhaustive. Unfortunately, your ideal inseam is determined by both the size and type of your jeans. It creates countless variations that may deserve their own article. Alas, these are the trials and tribulations of every fashionable woman.

How long should jeans be?

There is a mildly annoying quirk when purchasing denim – it tends to shrink when you wash it for the first time. You can easily offset this by buying pants that are half an inch longer in inseam. Forewarned is forearmed.

The length then comes down to the style and outfit you chose. While you might think buying the same length as your inseam is logical, this isn’t always the case. Shoes play a huge role in choosing the correct inseam.

If you want to wear high heels, consider buying slightly longer models. Thus, we recommend that you take your shoes with you when searching for new ones you want to wear with them.

On the other hand, you can buy regular-length ones if you plan to wear sandals.

Taking care of your jeans

Once you’ve bought your jeans, you must acquaint yourself with their proper maintenance. Contrary to most types of clothing, you should not wash your jeans too often. It will prevent them from shrinking. When you have to wash them, ensure they are inside out and use only cold water. Doing so will prevent the indigo dye from coming off. Lastly, do not place them in dryers as they damage the delicate denim.

Maintenance is also important, whether it’s a dog fence or a tire.

FAQ

What does a 30-inch inseam mean?

A 30-inch inseam means that you’re the distance from the crotch of your pants down to the leg openings is 30 inches.

What does a 5 inseam mean?

It means that the inside leg measurement of these pants is 5 inches. Given the length, we’re most likely talking about shorts.

Is the inseam the same as the length?

The length of the pants is measured from the top of the waistband down to the bottom of the legs. This length won’t help you determine whether the pants will fit you or not. Rather, it indicates how far up they rise. The greater this length, the closer to your torso they will reach.

On the other hand, the inseam is measured from the bottom of the zipper down to the leg openings. As an important factor to consider when buying new pairs, you should be known your inseam size. If the pants don’t fit you, you might have to splurge on alternations that could have easily been prevented.

So, the answer is no. They are two separate measurements.

What height is a 30-inch inseam?

Because the inseam is not precisely determined by height, a person with a 30-inch inseam can be from 5’6 to 5’10.

Conclusion

To sum up, an inseam is a distance measured from the bottom of the crotch to slightly below your ankles. It is an important measurement to know since it determines where your hemline lies. Although you can’t determine your exact length based on your height, it might help give you a general idea. The most fool-proof way is to measure it yourself using pants that fit you well. When shopping, you can find this number on the permanent label.

It is always a good idea to buy slightly longer ones since denim shrinks in the washer. If you slightly miss your proper measurement, there are DIY alternations that can salvage the situation. Next time you take out the camper trailer, you’ll know you’re wearing the right jeans.