Knowing the right size school uniform for your child feels like it should be an easy task, but it’s often rife with issues. The right fit helps your child feel comfortable and look smart, and can even save you money in the long run as you’re not investing in clothing that turn out to be ill-fitting and awkward.
Yet selecting the correct size can be a bit of a minefield when different items are sold by either age, height, chest or neck measurement. Your child may well want to wear an ‘age 10’ shirt, but their actual body measurements might require something completely different. Plus, children grow quickly – sometimes seemingly overnight – making it a challenge for you to buy a piece of uniform kit which fits them now and in the near future.
One easy way for you to ensure you’re choosing the correct school uniform size for your child is by having their body measurements to hand when you visit your school uniform shop or when ordering online.
There are five important measurements you’ll need for any school uniform purchase: waist, chest, leg, height and collar. All of them are easy to take using our guides. Use a flexible tape measure if you can – if you don’t have one, use a piece of string to take each measurement, lay it flat and then measure the length with a standard tape measure.
Below is an introduction to each key measurement, on the right you'll find some helpful videos with step by step instructions.
Your child’s waist measurement is needed for buying trousers and skirts, or any garment for the lower half of their body (including sportswear). Even if the garment is designed to sit on their hips – or they decide to wear it there – the waist measurement is what you should base your size selection on.
Measure your child’s waist by finding the narrowest part of their torso; this is normally a couple of inches above their hip bone and often, but not always, in line with the bellybutton. If your child has no natural narrower part to their torso, take their waist measurement from about halfway between the bottom of their rib cage and the top of their hip bone. Pull the tape measure so it’s snug but not tight against their waist and make sure they’re not holding their breath! You don’t need to add anything to the measurement for comfort as good quality school uniform will be designed with a little bit of ‘ease’ included.
The chest measurement of your child is needed for buying blouses, polo shirts, school jumpers, sweatshirts and blazers. Boys’ shirts are categorised by collar size, but it’s useful to have your child’s chest measurement on hand, just in case.
Chest measurement, along with height, is a measurement which is likely to change fairly dramatically over your child’s time at school as they begin to hit puberty. Taking their chest measurement regularly can help you make sure you’re buying the right size blouse, jumper or blazer for them even if their other measurements have stayed the same.
To take your child’s chest measurement, measure around the fullest part of their chest. For younger children, place the tape measure a few inches below their armpit and measure their chest there. For older children, particularly girls, the fullest part of their chest might be a little lower. Your child will be able to tell you what feels comfortable to them. Be sure not to pull the tape measure too tight as this can lead to buying shirts or blouses which are too small and strain at the buttons.
Your child’s leg measurement isn’t necessarily their whole leg, but their inside leg for trousers. It’s used to buy trousers and to choose between short, regular or long length in these items.
To take the inside leg measurement, ask your child to put on their school shoes and stand naturally. Run the tape measure down their inner leg, from their crotch to an inch or so above the ground where you’d like their trousers to finish. Try to ensure the tape measure is in a straight line, not wrapping around their leg, and don’t pull it too tight or they’ll end up with too-short, uncomfortable trousers.
To take your child’s skirt measurement, it’s easier if they wear an existing school skirt or other skirt that they like the length of. Measure from their natural waist down to the hem of the skirt, ensuring the tape measure is in a straight line. You should also check their school’s uniform requirements for skirt length to make sure any item you buy adheres to regulations.
Height is perhaps the measurement of your child you’re most used to taking and the method is very simple. Ask your child to stand against a wall, in bare feet or socks, with their feet flat on the floor and the back of their heels against the wall. Ask them to look straight ahead and then rest a pencil on top of their head, making a light pencil mark against the wall. Once they’ve stepped away from the wall, measure their height from the mark to the floor, keeping the tape measure straight.
Like their chest measurement, your child’s height can change significantly as they go through school, so it’s a good idea to take it regularly; even if you think they haven’t shot up, you’ll soon be able to tell when their trousers are above their ankles! It’s also the measurement on which you can base many of your school uniform purchases. If you’re shopping in a hurry, focus on the height guidelines – this will help you buy a size which is more likely to fit your child, whatever their age.
The final useful measurement to take for your child’s school uniform is their collar measurement. Mostly, it’s only boys’ shirts which are sold by collar size, just as with men’s shirts. Depending on your child’s school uniform you might not need to buy a formal shirt – polo shirts are sold by chest size or age rather than collar – so check the school’s requirements first.
To measure their collar, wrap the tape measure gently around the base of their neck. Put two fingers between the tape measure and their skin while you do this; this will ensure a more comfortable fit. Choose boys’ school shirts based on this measurement but do also check the chest measurement of the garment as well to make sure these two areas both fit. It’s better to have a comfortable, fitted chest and a slightly looser collar than a well-fitted collar and a chest that’s straining at the seams.