Your chest circumference is one of the most important measurements for sizing everything from sports gear and clothing to underclothing, for both men and women. Get the wrong chest measurements and you’ll be swimming in a chest protector that doesn’t fit right, pinched into a bra that cuts your breath off, or unable to button your suit jacket.
The process for taking chest measurements is the same for both men and women, aside from the obvious anatomical differences. To get the best measurements, your arms should hang straight at your sides, so ask a friend to help you if at all possible.
Stand in front of a mirror. Take off your shirt. Wear a regular bra with minimal padding to ensure a correct measurement. If you're measuring for a special occasion dress or shirt, wear the same bra you intend to wear on that occasion.
Wrap the flexible tape measure around your chest. It should pass above your breasts, under your armpits, and around your back. The tape measure should be level and flat when viewed from the side. Have your friend pull the tape snug, but not so tight that it pinches or wrinkles your skin as you let your arms hang.
Note the measurement, in inches, on the tape measure. If the measurement is odd, round up to the next even number for a sports bra, or down to the next even number for a regular bra.
Stand in front of a mirror. Take off your shirt or wear whatever underlayer you plan to put on underneath your sports gear or suit.
Wrap the flexible tape measure around your chest. It should cross directly underneath your armpits, over the highest part of your chest, and lie across your shoulder blades. The tape should remain horizontal, and flat against your skin.
Let your arms hang, relaxed, at your sides as your friend pulls the measuring tape snug but not tight. Note the tape measurement in inches. This is your chest measurement.