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HOF: How to measure for ebay

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
I’ve received requests from some of the members of this forum for instructions on measuring. In order to take advantage of the great deals on ebay one has to learn how to properly measure a coat that fits well and to compare those measurements to those provided by the ebay seller. DO NOT rely on a tagged size. I’ve measured at least 1500 coats and believe me – tagged size means next to nothing. Instead measure the jacket in your wardrobe that fits you best. Memorize those measurements. Then use them as a baseline when looking at possible purchases on ebay.  

So here goes. There are five measurements that most sellers provide when selling a tailored jacket. I’m using a (measured) size 42 Hermes sportcoat as an example.  

1) Chest measurement – this is the most important measurement. It is the measurement that varies the least, it cannot be easily changed (altered,) and it determines the size of the jacket. In general the tagged size refers to the chest measurement of the individual. So if your chest measures 42” you likely wear a size 42 jacket. It is a common misconception that a size 42 jacket would then have a 42” chest. This is NOT the case (if it did the jacket would be so tight you would have difficulty breathing and certainly would not be able to move.) Almost every tailor and manufacturer on the planet cuts the chest of the jacket 4” larger than the actual chest measurement of the individual. Occasionally 3” larger or as much as 5” larger but 95% of the time it is 4” larger. So a size 42 jacket would have an actual chest (outseam) measurement of 46.” Beware of ebay sellers who say a jacket is a size 42 and that it measures 42” in the chest. Either a) it actually measures 42” and the jacket is therefore a size 38, or b) it is actually a size 42 and they don’t know how to measure correctly. Or some combination thereof.

To measure the chest of a jacket that fits you well, lay it on a clean flat surface and button it. If it is a two or three button jacket button the second button (from the bottom) only. If it is double breasted button it completely. Arrange the jacket so that you get an accurate measurement. In the first picture the jacket is arranged properly. In the second picture it is stretched too far which gives an inaccurately large measurement. You can tell it is stretched to far because the lapels are buckled outward. In the third picture the jacket is not stretched out far enough. If you arrange it this way the fabric will be bunched up at the back of the jacket – giving an inaccurately small chest measurement. This same method applies to all five measurements. Make sure you stretch the area you are measuring to the point where you are measuring the full amount of the fabric present - but do not overstretch it. If you overstretch it you are simulating a jacket that does not fit.

2) Waist measurement. The waist of the jacket can be found at different points depending on the make. It is usually between the first and second buttons (from the bottom) or at the second button. The waist measurement is usually 2-4” smaller than the chest measurement. 2” smaller on jackets that are targeted at older men (Hickey Freeman, Oxxford, most Brioni & Kiton etc.) 4” smaller on jackets that are meant for younger men (most designers.)

3)    Shoulder width – This measurement should be taken from shoulder seam to shoulder seam at the
      widest point (as pictured.)

4) Jacket Length – Measure from the bottom of the collar to the bottom of the coat as pictured. Some sellers indicate the overall length instead. In that case you can usually assume that the “bottom of collar to bottom of coat” measurement is 1.5” less (1.5” being the height of the collar.)

5) Sleeve length – this is taken from the top of the sleeve at the shoulder seam to the middle of the end of
the sleeve (as pictured.) As you can see the end of the sleeve is cut on a slant so make sure to measure in a straight line down the sleeve. I also indicate in my auctions how far the sleeves can be let down. I arrive at this measurement by feeling how much extra fabric there is and subtracting 1.” (I figure there should be at least 1” of fabric to hem under although some tailors may be able to use facing and make the sleeve even longer.)

Standard variations – Within a certain size nearly every “standard” measurement is subject to change depending on the overall silhouette the designer or tailor is going for. Here are some common variations.

Chest  - The chest measurement is the only measurement that stays fairly consistent from brand to brand. And even that changes. Companies going for a slimmer, dressier look may cut the chest slightly smaller. Drape cut suits will have a slightly large chest. Also some “athletic cut” suits have a large chest measurement – usually combined with very wide shoulders and a very small waist. (Avoid this cut like the plague unless you are built like Arnold.) In general though, the chest is cut 4” larger than your actual chest measurement.

Waist – As mentioned the waist is usually cut larger on more expensive suits ($1000+) and slimmer on low-to-mid-range and designer suits.

Shoulder – Designers tweak the shoulder more than anything else. Currently they are running on the narrow side. You should determine a minimum (jacket) shoulder width for you personally. If the shoulder measurement listed in the auction is wider it may still look fine on you – it depends on the overall cut and also the look you are going for.

Jacket length – This is the other measurement that designers love to mess with. Currently jackets are being cut on the longer side. Generally 30” – 32” indicates a regular and 32” + indicates a long. The one rule to keep in mind – the jacket must cover your posterior.

Sleeve length – Sleeve length is the easiest alteration to make. Generally the sleeves will be too long as it’s easier to shorten a sleeve than it is too lengthen it. If the listed measurement is too short then ask the seller how much fabric there is to let the sleeve down.        

Older suits -  older (10-20 years old) suits almost always have a waist that is 4” smaller than the chest. In fact the chest and shoulders are usually narrower too. Often if I’m selling an older suit (Oxxford for instance) that is tagged a size 44 I’ll sell it as a size 42. I do this because the measurements correspond to a current size 42 Oxxford suit.

European sizes – generally you get the US size by subtracting 10 from the European size. For  instance a Euro 52 usually corresponds to a US 42. But there are plenty of exceptions so rely on the measurements. The Hermes jacket pictured is tagged a Euro 54 and it measures to a slim 42.

Made to measure – a made to measure garment will  usually have tagged size that is 1-2 sizes larger than the actual measurements indicate. I’m guessing they start with a larger pattern and then cut it down as needed but I’m not certain.

Previously altered garments – If you buy previously worn garments they may have been altered. In this day and age most guys leave their jackets exactly as they bought them. But never assume. Rely on the measurements.

The strange and the unexplainable – When the tagged size has no basis in reality you are usually dealing with an Armani. I’ve seen a lot of Black Label jackets that were tagged a size 58 Euro that measured to a size 44 or even a 42. So once again – measurements are your most reliable guide.

Alterations – I get a lot of questions about what can and cannot be altered. Basically you can almost always alter the sleeves. And you can usually have the back taken in or out a bit to change the waist measurement. It is difficult, sometimes even impossible to alter the chest or shoulder width. They say you can have the jacket shortened 1” or so but you would need a good tailor.

There is more to be written on how to measure shirts, pants etc. But I’ll have to do that later. I hope you guys find this helpful.
post #2 of 37
Very helpful, indeed. Thanks.
post #3 of 37
GREAT post....this is one of my favorite ebay sellers, guys. glad he took the time to post this info. i think he sold me my kiton suit.. andrew...stuck overseas for a while, can't email/ buy anything for several months. however, will be watching your auctions when i return.
post #4 of 37
Thanks for one of the best StyleForum posts ever, Andrew. Marcus
post #5 of 37
Thank you for your very informative post. The Foxx has piqued my curiosity: what is your eBay member name? I'd love to check out your inventory.
post #6 of 37
Thread Starter 
I don't want to post my ebay seller name as it would probably violate the rules of this board. If anyone would like to know, feel free to email me at
post #7 of 37
Thread Starter 
I've edited the original post a bit to make it clearer - you may have noticed the changes and I don't want anyone to question their sanity.
post #8 of 37
Thread Starter 
I've been referring my customers to this post and I'm tired of digging through the archives to find the link. So I decided to pull it back up to the top. I hope y'all don't mind.
post #9 of 37
Not at all. I've used it myself recently, and am also tired of looking for it. In fact I'll pin it. Definitely HOF.
post #10 of 37
Thanks AHarris, one question; I'm looking at single breasted suits but only have a double breasted one to measure from, can I use the measurement from that double breasted suit when shopping for a single breasted suit? NP
post #11 of 37
Thread Starter 
Thanks AHarris, one question; I'm looking at single breasted suits but only have a double breasted one to measure from, can I use the measurement from that double breasted suit when shopping for a single breasted suit?
You certainly can..
post #12 of 37
Just like to add another measurement variable, shoulder across back, from just below the seam on the back of one sleeve to another. That measurement plays a big part in the fitting as much as shoulder across the widest points. The second one on this link:
post #13 of 37
Here's a question, when measuring the shoulder, sometimes the jacket has that little puff at the seam where the sleeve meets the shoulder. Do you measure that little thick part at the top of the sleeve?
post #14 of 37
Thread Starter 
Here's a question, when measuring the shoulder, sometimes the jacket has that little puff at the seam where the sleeve meets the shoulder. Do you measure that little thick part at the top of the sleeve?
No, measure from seam to seam.
post #15 of 37
l know this has been answered many times but, what does an american size 7 equate to in U.K size and italian size? l want to start buying shoes on ebay but am unsure about sizing. Thanks in advance.
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