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How do I measure sleeve length?

Contrary to what you may think, the measurement of your sleeve length is actually not simply the measured length of your arm. This is because, when engineering a garment like a sports jacket, particularly with a hood, our designers piece together fabrics in such a way that the sleeve technically starts much higher in order to ensure room inside for your neck, shoulders and arms to move freely and comfortably.

This is why it’s super important to know how to measure sleeve length correctly. It allows us to help you find the best fitting, most comfortable and functional item of clothing for your body type, and will ensure that your new Free Country apparel is as practical and fitted as possible to most effectively help you get outside comfortably and safely.

When working with short sleeves or t-shirts, this isn’t as much of a concern. When you get into sports jackets or anything that protects you from the elements, you want to be more precise. This way, you can count on your gear to perform and fit well for years to come.

You may have had to do your measurements when measuring for a dress shirt size or just a dress shirt sleeve length. If you have, you probably have an idea of your measurements already. It doesn’t hurt to do it again and see if anything has changed. If you’ve never measured your sleeve length before, no worries. 

While you probably aren’t getting measured for a custom-fit suit, it’s good to know where you stand when consulting a size chart.

To measure your sleeve length:

There’s really not much to it when it comes to measuring arm length for a jacket. While you can definitely do it yourself, it’s better to have someone help you.

  • You’re going to need a flexible sewing tape measure or something similar that will be able to bend to your natural shoulder arches. If you don’t have flexible sewing tape, we recommend getting a large piece of string and using a marker to indicate the beginning and end of the measurement. You can then hold the string against a sturdy tape measure to read your numerical length.
  • We suggest standing with your arms directly by your side and having someone take the measurement for you for the most accurate reading.
  • Once ready, place the beginning of the tape at the back and center of your neck.
  • Trace it over the top of your shoulder, and all the way down to the end of your wrist. Try to trace over the top of the shoulder, not behind along your shoulder blade, as this will manipulate the measurement and make your sleeve length appear somewhat shorter than it is.

Be sure not to go past your wrist bones towards your hand; otherwise, this will extend the entire sleeve length, not only making them too long and therefore impractical to use, but also adding extra space all the way up to the edge of your shoulder, which will cause the entire jacket to sit incorrectly.

When measuring sleeve length for a jacket, you’re usually better off going a bit longer than shorter, if between sizes. While you don’t want sleeves that are too long, slightly longer sleeves allow for more room to layer and wear gloves with your jacket when the temperatures drop. If the difference is only a half inch or so, sizing up is just going to give you a bit more flexibility to add layers. Beyond that, you’ll probably just have a poorly-fitting shirt or jacket. 

If you’re just not sure how to do your shirt or jacket sleeve length measurement correctly (or you need to be 100 percent certain that you’re right), you can always consult a professional tailor. While most people will be fine measuring for sleeve fit at home, if you need the most precise measurements, that’s the way to go.