What Is an Inseam? & How to Choose the Right Fit

Woman sitting wearing jeans and a green cropped tank top for article "what is an inseam?"

If you’ve ever been puzzled by a size guide online or staring at a size tag, unsure of what it all means, then you’re in the right place. In this article, I’ll answer the big question, “what is an inseam” and unravel its significance in your wardrobe!

By the end of this article, you’ll be a pro at choosing the right inseam for any style, ensuring that you not only look good but feel good about your wardrobe. Let’s get into it!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Prices are accurate at the time of published article and are subject to change. Thank you for supporting my site and read more about my disclosure policies here.

What is an Inseam?

what is an inseam article with picture featuring what an inseam, length, and waist.

I know the reason you’re here is because you’re wondering, what is an inseam? To put it plainly, an inseam refers to the length of the inner seam of pants/shorts. It runs from the crotch to the bottom of the pant leg or hem. It essentially measures the distance along the inside of the leg, running from the top of the inner thigh to the ankle or whatever the hemline of the pants.

The Importance of an Inseam:

Understanding inseam measurements is important for several reasons, as it plays a significant role in determining the overall fit, comfort, and style of your clothing.

How do I figure out my inseam?

A pair of jeans laying horizontially on a carpet with a pink measuring tape measuring the inseam for an article titled "what is an inseam"

Figuring out your inseam is a straightforward process that can be done at home with a few simple steps. Here’s how:

  1. Gather Your Tools: You’ll need a flexible measuring tape and a pair of well-fitting pants with an inseam length you like as a reference.
  2. Locate the Crotch Point: Start by placing the pants flat on a table or the floor. Locate the crotch point, which is where the two seams of the pants intersect, forming a T-shape.
  3. Measure from Crotch to Hem: Using the measuring tape, measure from the crotch point to the hem of the pants. This measurement is your inseam length.
  4. Consult Size Charts: If you’re shopping for clothing online or in-store, consult the size charts provided by the brand or retailer. They often include inseam measurements for different sizes, helping you select the right fit.

Remember that inseam measurements can vary slightly between different pairs of pants or brands, especially if they have different styles or cuts. By following these steps, you can have a baseline of buying the best size pants for you!

How long should my inseam be for my height?

After determining what is an inseam, your next question is likely what inseam is best for your height! The answer to this question is going to depend on a few things but especially the style you’re looking for. But first, it’s important to remember that your height is not the only factor determining your inseam. By this, I mean one person who is 5′ 3″ could have longer or shorter legs than another. This is why it’s important to measure any existing pants that fit you well to get a general gist of what inseam length you should aim for.

The below chart will give you a general guide, but it’s important to measure and/or try on to see yourself. Whenever ordering pants online, I order 2-3 pairs in different sizes/inseams to see which are the best and then return the others.

If you’re looking for some recommendations for brands with shorter and longer inseams, keep scrolling!

A size charted explaining which inseam is appropriate for which height and which style of pant for article about what is an inseam

Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Inseam

Fit and Comfort:

The inseam length affects how well a pair of pants fits and how comfortable they are to wear. An inseam that is too long can result in fabric bunching at the ankles, while one that is too short can lead to tightness and discomfort around the crotch and calves. Finding the right inseam will make sure that your pants fit well and you are comfortable, which is the most important thing!

Style and Trend:

Inseam length is closely tied to the style and trend of the clothing. Inseams on different types of pants such as wide-leg, straight, or skinny, can dramatically affect the look of an outfit. Knowing how to choose the right inseam for your body type and personal style makes it a lot easier to shop what you’re looking for.


Inseam length can also be functional. For example, with activewear, the appropriate inseam can enhance performance and provide comfort. Longer inseams in athletic wear can protect your legs from chaffing, while shorter inseams offer better mobility.

There’s a lot more to inseams than you thought, right?!

Can I alter the inseam if it’s too long or too short?

Yes! You can alter the inseam of your clothing, although I only recommend going to a tailor for this unless you’re very handy with a sewing machine.

It’s generally more common to shorten an inseam which is where a tailor will measure your desired length and then trim and hem the fabric. This can done with just about any type of pant.

While it’s a little less common, it’s also possible to lengthen the inseam. The amount that you can lengthen the inseam depends on the available fabric within the pants. It’s possible that you may not be able to lengthen pants if there is not enough fabric available.

In my opinion, it’s always better to buy longer and get pants hemmed as opposed to buying shorter with the hopes you can get them hemmed to the appropriate length. The moral of the story: consult a professional. Don’t mess up your pants! However, if you are in a pinch and you’re working with flexible fabric, I recommend keeping hem adhesive on hand.

Brands with short inseams for petite/tall people

Here are my top 5 brands that offer short inseams for petite and tall people.

  1. Abercrombie: Abercrombie’s got your back no matter your body, offering wardrobe staples that fit like a charm for every body type.
  2. Aerie: Aerie’s all about feeling comfy and confident, no matter your body – they’ve got so many different sizes for everyone, making it easy to find your perfect fit.
  3. ASOS: ASOS is like a fashion treasure trove, offering tons of stylish clothes that come in different lengths, so you can rock the latest looks, whether you’re petite or tall.
  4. Madewell: Madewell’s got your style game covered, catering to both petite and tall folks with classic, versatile pieces that are designed to flatter various body shapes and sizes.
  5. Banana Republic: Banana Republic keeps it classy and polished for everyone, with well-tailored clothing available in a range of sizes and lengths to ensure a sharp look for all.

What is an inseam? Final Thoughts

I hope this article helped your understanding of an inseam! So, when you’re out shopping for pants next time, remember this simple yet significant detail. By knowing your inseam measurement and paying attention to it on clothing labels, you’re not just picking pants; you’re picking pants that are tailored to your shape, ensuring that every step you take is stylish and comfortable. So, here’s to a wardrobe that speaks volumes about your fashion sense while keeping you at ease.

With love or whatever,

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply