With a little knowledge, shopping for dress pants can go from confusing and mysterious to easy and fun. When you’re trying to look your best in dress pants, measuring your inseam is incredibly helpful. Your inseam measurement is the length from the crotch to the bottom of the pant leg. Some pants have this measurement on the tag, but not all do. It’s best to know how to find your inseam length yourself – this way you’ll never buy a pair of ill-fitting pants again.

Many men struggle with feeling unconfident in formal wear. Dressing up takes confidence, and if any part of your outfit is ill-fitting, it shows. Because of this, it’s wise to know your way around each piece of an outfit, especially pants. These quick steps for measuring your inseam will leave you ready to confidently pick your next pair of dress pants.

1. Start with Pants that Fit Your Waist.

The inseam measurement isn’t the only factor that affects the fit of your pants. If the pair you’re trying on is too loose or tight around the inseam length won’t matter.

If you don’t know your waist measurement, you can find it yourself at home with a tape measure. However, if you have a pair of pants that fits perfectly, note the waist measurement, and use it as a reference for other pairs.

It’s important to note that just because a pair of pants fits your waist doesn’t mean it’s a perfect pair. This is where your inseam measurement comes in. Pants may fit your waist but be too short.

Additionally, if the pair of pants you’re trying on are categorized by style (i.e. “slim fit,” “relaxed fit,” etc.) this will have an impact on how you look in the pants and is important to consider.

2. Check the Tag.

If the pants you are trying on have the inseam measurement on the tag, you’re good to go. If the inseam is on the tag, it is typically in this format:

Waist Measurement X Inseam Measurement

For example 32×34.

Remember, however, that the inseam measurement is not always found on pants’ tags. Make sure you know you know your own inseam measurement before you go shopping just in case. You can find it at home by measuring the inseam on a pair of pants that fits. You’ll learn how to do this in the coming steps.

3. Lay Pants Flat to Measure.

If a pair of pants doesn’t have the inseam measurement on the tag, it’s time for measuring. Accurately measuring the inseam is easy when the pants are laid flat. This way, there’s no risk of wrinkles or folds – these will lead to a wrong measurement.

Fold the pant legs onto each other and lay the pair flat. Now you’re ready to measure. Remember, the inseam is the length of the line that runs from the crotch to the bottom of the pant leg.

The bottom part of your pant leg is called the hem – this is the piece of the fabric that is folded up into the pant leg. On dress pants, the fabric is sometimes folded onto the outside of the pant leg instead, making a cuff. Many dress pants come with cuffs sewn on, but hemmed pants can also have cuffs added.

If you measure pants that you already own and find that they are too long, adding cuffs can decrease the leg length. However, be mindful that not all types of dress pants should be cuffed. Flat-front pants (pants without pleats) should not be cuffed, as this creates a stylistic clash. However, single-pleated and two-pleat pants can look stylish with either hemmed or cuffed legs – it’s up to you.

4. Measure the Inseam with a Tape Measure

With the pair of pants laid flat, measure the distance from the crotch to the bottom of the pant leg. This is your inseam measurement. Double-check that there are no creases or folds in the pants. Because the inseam is measured in inches, even a small fold can render the measurement inaccurate. After measuring, write the measurement down in your phone for safekeeping. It’s now your secret weapon when shopping for dress pants.

In addition, if you’re not a fan of going to the store and trying on pants, you’re in luck. a major perk of knowing your inseam measurement is the ability to confidently buy pants online. When you don’t know your measurements, shopping for pants online can be hit-or-miss and often disappointing. Now that you know how to measure your inseam, you can worry less about trying pants on before you buy them.

If you’re still not sure where to start with picking out dress pants, it can be helpful to read up about how to recognize the features of different types of dress pants. Pleats, hems, and cuffs may all be foreign concepts at this point but have no fear. Now that you know how to measure your inseam, you’re off to a great start.