There’s that moment when you’re trying on jeans and you come to realize: These do not fit. Maybe it’s right at the beginning, when your foot can barely fit through the ankle opening of skinny jeans. Or perhaps it’s looking down and realizing there’s a pool of fabric still on the floor because the length is all wrong.
One of the best ways to avoid these mishaps and find jeans that fit you just right is to understand what an inseam is and how to measure it. Each fit and style of denim has a different inseam, and you should also take into account your personal measurements (e.g. height).
Here’s what you need to know about jean inseams, including how to measure an inseam and variations across styles.
Measuring Your Jean Inseam
An inseam refers to the distance between the crotch and the end of the leg opening. The simplest way to measure your inseam is to take a measuring tape and calculate the length between just below your crotch and the bottom of your ankle. If you are measuring a pair of jeans, lie them flat on a table and measure along the seam from the crotch the hem.
Once you’ve measured your inseam, you can look for a pair of jeans that correspond to the desired fit and style. For example, if you want a pair of straight-leg jeans and are very tall, look for jeans with a 36-inch inseam. For a more petite frame, opt for 28- or 30-inch inseam jeans.
The shorter the inseam, the shorter the length of the jean. So, if you’re looking for a cropped jean that hits above the ankle, search for 21- to 30-inch inseam jeans depending on your height. Meanwhile, for a straight leg pair that strikes above the ankle, a long inseam jean is your best bet. For these, look for a jean inseam of at least 27”, and as long as 34” (again, height-dependent).
It’s easiest to understand jean inseams when you look at how a different inseam length creates a unique denim style.
In a skinny jean, the inseam length will depend on if you prefer your pair to bunch at the ankle or not. The longer the inseam of the jean, the more the material will bunch at the end. Our Alexa Skinny Jeans in Dark Smoke SuperSoft is a versatile option for anyone looking for a skinny jean with options for both a long and petite inseam. The length on these jeans ranges from 28” to 36”, which makes them a perfect fit for almost any body type.
Boyfriend jeans should have a shorter inseam because they’re meant to hit just above the ankle. That’s why styles like Ada only come in lengths of 27” - 29”. Though they’ll be roomier through the hip and thigh, the inseam will not be that of a long inseam jean because these are meant to be worn like a crop denim.
For a longer pair of jeans, a straight-leg pair should hit right at the ankle. This style is incredibly versatile, and so having a wide selection of inseams to choose from is essential. Our Kendra Straight-Leg in Dark Brushed Feather Blue is a great example of a long inseam jean, with availability up to 36”. You can just as easily find a pair of straight-leg with petite and 30-inch inseams.
Don’t let another pair of jeans fool you: Know before you even try them on if that pair will fit you correctly. Now that you know how to measure an inseam and how they affect the styling of your jeans, you’re ready to go out and get your perfect pair!