Formal occasions may require even the littlest boy to wear a suit.

How to Measure a Boy for a Suit Coat

by Michelle Powell-Smith

Accurate measurements are essential for making sure your little boy looks like a young gentleman in his suit coat, whether you're shopping for church, an academic event or a wedding. While some formalwear shops will measure boys, it's often easier to do it at home. Once you know how to properly take measurements, you can get the sizing done quickly with minimal wiggling or complaining and order a suit coat that fits.

Getting Ready

Smart preparation will speed up the measuring process. Have a flexible cloth tape measure, paper and a pencil at hand. Have the boy wear a tight-fitting undershirt. If you're measuring a very young boy, a favorite television show may help to keep him distracted and entertained while you measure. For toddlers, consider having a second set of hands available, since they may need assistance holding up their arms or moving for measurements.


Measure from shoulder to shoulder and across the back from the highest point on the shoulders. In a well-fitted T-shirt style undershirt, you can measure from seam to seam with the boy's arms hanging at his sides. If you have a well-fitted jacket, you can measure the jacket rather than the child to get an accurate shoulder measurement.


To measure the chest, have the boy lift his arms out to the sides, or have a helper hold his arms up. Measure directly under the armpits at the widest part of the chest. Some vendors may also want an overarm measurement. Take this measurement by having him hold his arms down at by his sides in a natural way. Measure around the body at approximately armpit level, including the arms in the measurement.


Take the back length measurement by holding the tape measure at the back of the neck with the child standing straight. Measure down to the base of the boy's bottom for a standard jacket. For a tailcoat you'll need a back length measurement that extends to the back of the knee. Measure sleeve length from the top of the shoulder blade to below the wrist bone.

Fitting Issues

Boys that are tall and slender or stocky may pose additional fitting challenges. Order a suit to fit the largest measurements, whether that is length or width. Plan to have garments taken in to fit a slender child or hemmed for a heavy one. You may be able to order husky sizes from some manufacturers, allowing for a better, more accommodating fit for a stockier boy.

About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.

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