How to Measure the Inseam on Shorts

Spread the love

If you’ve ever been curious about how to measure the inseam on shorts then wonder no more. It’s not difficult at all.

Before we start there are a few things you need to get a proper inseam measurement.

First of all, what is the inseam and where is it on a pair of shorts? The inseam on a pair of shorts is referring to the length of the seam that runs from the crotch to the bottom of the shorts, along the inner thigh.

Showing the location of inseam and the outseam on a pair of shorts.

Showing the location of inseam and the outseam on a pair of shorts.

It helps if you have a tape measure but if you don’t, no need to worry, there are other ways to measure your inseam on your shorts.

Another thing you need to figure out is how long of an inseam you want in your shorts. So, you’ll need to take your own measurements and determine if you want your shorts to fall below, at, or above the knee.

Or maybe you prefer some short shorts or daisy dukes, if that’s the case then an inseam is irrelevant, and, good for you, throwing it out there for the world to see!

2 men standing on rock near body of water during daytime

These two have no need for talk of inseams (or outseams).

How to Measure the Inseam on Shorts

The inseam on a pair of shorts is the length of the seam that runs from the crotch to the bottom of your shorts.

    1. Lay your shorts on a flat surface and find the inner seam that runs from the bottom of the shorts to the crotch. Some shorts might have a welded seamless construction so just judge the midpoint on the inner part of the shorts.
    2. Run a tape measure or other measuring tool from the bottom of the shorts up to where it meets the crotch.
    3. The measurement is your inseam length
Measuring the inseam on the O'Neill Santa Cruz Board Shorts.

Measuring the inseam on the O’Neill Santa Cruz Board Shorts.

How to Measure Your Inseam Without Measuring Tape

If you don’t have a measuring tape, no need to worry, you can still measure your inseam using some common household items. If you’ve got a dollar bill and some string you have enough to measure anything on your body.

A tape measure, a USB cord, a string, and a dollar bill are all things you can use to take clothing measurements.

A tape measure, a USB cord, a string, and a dollar bill are all things you can use to take clothing measurements.

If you don’t have any string you can also use an electrical cord (not plugged in please) or long USB cord as well.

No, I’m not recreating an episode of MacGyver, here’s how it works.

Any currency will work, you’ll have to research the size dimensions of the currency you want to use. For this example, I’m using a U.S. dollar bill.

A U.S. dollar bill measures 6 inches with a tape measure.

A U.S. dollar bill measures 6 inches with a tape measure.

A U.S. dollar bill is roughly six inches.

You can use a piece of string and a dollar bill if you don't have a tape measure to take body measurements.

You can use a piece of string and a dollar bill if you don’t have a tape measure to take body measurements.

And to get even more precise you can fold the bill in half, this will give you a smaller 3-inch measurement. Fold it in half again, you have 1.5 inches.

Now, take your string and run it along the inner seam from the crotch to the bottom of the shorts.

Measuring the inseam on a pair of shorts with string.

Measuring the inseam on a pair of shorts with string.

Pinch the string at where it meets the bottom of the shorts to keep track of your measurement. Take a pen and mark that spot.

Grab your dollar bill. In this example, the inseam is longer than my dollar bill.

Using a dollar bill to measure the inseam on a pair of shorts

Using a dollar bill to measure the inseam on a pair of shorts. Six inches so far. I folded the bill so that I have 4- 1 1/2 inch folds (6 inches total).

The mark on the string hits around the middle of the third fold on the dollar bill, close to 4 inches.

The mark on the string hits around the middle of the third fold on the dollar bill, close to 4 inches. Add this to the 6 inches from the other dollar equals a 10-inch inseam measurement.

Using just the string and the dollar bill, I am able to measure the inseam on my board shorts. I marked the length of the inseam on the string and measured that length with the dollar bill. It measured to close to one and 5/8th dollar bill lengths, or 10 inches.

You can use this trick if you don’t have any measuring tools around.

Where’s the Outseam on a Pair of Shorts?

The outseam of a pair of shorts runs from the top of the waistband down to the bottom of the shorts along the outside seam.

Measuring the outseam of a pair of shorts.

Measuring the outseam of a pair of shorts.

If you don’t have a tape measure you can use the same dollar bill and string trick outlined above to measure your outseam.

How to Measure Your Inseam on Your Body

Measuring the inseam for shorts on your body is similar to measuring the inseam on a pair of shorts. You can do this with your underwear on.

You are going to measure on the inside of your leg from the crotch down to where you want your shorts to fall. Generally, a 9 to 10-inch inseam will fall to the knee or a little above. A 7-inch inseam will typically reflect more of a shorter swim trunk look. This all depends on individual body types and preferences.

You can use this inseam measurement on yourself to determine where you are most comfortable with the inseam falling.

Final Thoughts

Figuring out how to measure the inseam on shorts doesn’t have to be difficult. Even without a tape measure, you should be able to determine the length of the inseam and the ideal length that you prefer.

You will find that board shorts will typically have longer inseams and outseams than other types of shorts. There is a wide range of lengths with 10-inch inseams along with 21 to 22-inch outseams not being uncommon.

Maybe you prefer shorter shorts such as swim trunk-style shorts or volley shorts. Doing a quick measure of your inseam on your body will show you where these shorts will fall.

No matter what length you decide to go with, hopefully this article gave you a little help in the right direction in choosing what pair of shorts are right for you.